In the first four chapters of Romans, Paul makes it very clear that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. There isn’t a sacrifice we can make, a good deed we can do, nor a price we can pay to obtain salvation. The apostle taught it is only because of grace through faith that we are justified. Now that was a pretty radical concept to the Jewish people whose whole lives were wrapped up in the Law and a system of works.
After all how could God possibly show the goodness that comes with receiving His grace so freely, without regard to our worth or merit? But in Romans 3:28 Paul reiterates, “…a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” And he illustrated his point with the example of the great Jewish patriarch Abraham.
The word justified means, “declared, or made righteous in the sight of God”. The Jewish people believed that Abraham was justified by his works, because he kept the Law. But Paul argues that in the Old Testament it is written that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (v. 3)
God made a promise to Abraham that seemed impossible. (Gen. 15:1-6) And even though it took 25 years for him to see that promise fulfilled, Abraham never lost faith. It was his faith that God counted as righteousness, not Abraham’s works. And just as Abraham was declared righteous because his faith, so are we through our faith in Christ Jesus.
We are all sinners, whose sin keeps us eternally separated from God. But because of the work of Jesus on the Cross, by faith in Him we are, “justified by a gift of His grace.” (3:24). Everyone of us is guilty of breaking the Law. And the Law’s penalty for sin was death. Even though Jesus lived a perfect life, He paid our penalty so we could receive His righteousness. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)
The moment we receive Jesus as our Savior that righteousness covers us. We are justified. The Law fulfilled, our sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean. For as in Romans 8:1 God promises, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1) Did you get that? I mean really get that? No condemnation. None! No matter what the enemy may tell you to the contrary.
God’s mercy is never ending, His love unconditional. He wants for nothing and yet He wants us. He wants a close and personal relationship with us. And because of this He provided a path to reconciliation through His Son Jesus. It is our faith in Jesus that deems us righteous, and because of that righteousness we can receive eternal life. This is God’s precious gift to us. An irrevocable gift (Rom. 11:29) which can not be earned, and one offered out of His perfect love.