For God to say to you, “I am well pleased with you,” demands far more than your good outweighing your evil. The scales of justice are misleading when it comes to the justice and righteousness of God. What amount of payment is required for a particular sin in God’s economy is different than what we know about justice. The only way anyone can stand before God is with PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS! Nothing else will do!
That causes a serious problem for us because the second half of chapter one through the first half of chapter 3 makes it pretty clear that all are unrighteous. And it also tells us that God’s wrath is against all unrighteousness. If all are unrighteous and God’s righteous judgment awaits us then we need to find a way to be righteous.
But how can we become good? Maybe by keeping God’s law? Well, Paul says that no flesh will be justified by the works of the law…not to mention we don’t want to nor can we keep them. And what about the times we have already broken the law? How do we fix/erase those?
If that were not enough to cause us despair, how can God set a guilty sinner free and remain righteous Himself? Isn’t that evil not to punish the guilty? Indeed it is! That’s called injustice! All of this poses significant problems for us. How on earth can we be saved? What hope is there?!
I’m glad you asked! There is a way for us to be forgiven and counted righteous and God can remain righteous Himself by setting guilty sinners free. If the answer is not within us then it must be outside of us. Can we appeal to those who have gone before us to lend us some of their extra righteousness (you know that is a thing, right?)? Can we purchase merit with some amount of money? Can we do good things and make God like us? What about just doing what we can and trusting God with the rest?
I’m certain the answer to all of them is, no. The answer to our most serious problem—separated from God because of our sin—can only be fixed by God Himself. In other words, God must meet His own demands for us.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-
22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. – Romans 3:21-22
Here is the good news! The righteousness of God has come! Not in the form of the letter of the law but in a person—namely, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But how can the Righteous One (the Holy One) help us? I mean, yeah he’s righteous and good but how does that fix my problem?
Righteousness is available through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe!
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. – Romans 3:23-25
All have sinned…all are unrighteous but all can be forgiven and counted righteous by receiving them as a gift from God by His grace! Problem solved. Our sin debt is cleared because by faith it is forgiven. How? Because Jesus paid for the penalty of our sin, which was death. Therefore, by faith his death is our death. And by faith his righteousness is our righteousness.
We can be right with God—justified—by grace through faith in Jesus. And that’s how God can remain righteous in setting guilty sinners free. Because He is the just and justifier! Sin was punished so that God could have mercy on us! It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:26
Why this way? Why can’t we participate in our salvation? It feels like we should, you know. The reason is so that we would have nothing to boast about in ourselves and every mouth is stopped! There will only be forgiven sinner boasting in Jesus in heaven. We will not share in his glory like that. All praise and honor and glory forever and ever to the Lamb of God!
May Jesus weigh down the scales of justice for you by faith in him!