Justified by Faith Alone!

21 November 2021 AM – Romans 3:9-31 – Ro2021 – Scott Childs
Introduction: John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, was born in 1725 in the UK. His mother, a Christian, taught him the Bible, but she died of TB when he was just seven. From age 11 to 17, Newton accompanied his father, a Navy ship’s captain, on his sea voyages. Several years later, Newton took a job with a slave trader on an island off the western coast of Africa. After more than a year of living in abusive conditions, in 1747 Newton managed to escape the island.
He took work aboard the Greyhound, a ship based out of Liverpool. The following year, as that slave-laden ship was bound for home, it encountered a violent North Atlantic storm. On March 21, 1748, Newton was awakened in the night to find the ship in dire trouble, and one sailor already washed overboard. As Newton pumped and bailed, he became convinced that he would soon meet the Lord. Recalling Bible verses about God’s grace towards sinners that he had learned from his mother, Newton whispered his first feeble prayer in years. That night, God justified the sinful John Newton and changed his life. Biography of John Newton, Author of Amazing Grace (learnreligions.com)
Transition: As we study Romans 3, my goal this morning is to answer the question, “How can we be justified?” (made righteous) However, before we can answer that question, we must deal with two more problems that stand in the way of justification.
The first problem is that stands in the way of justification is that …
  1. Sin Dominates (v.9-18)
a.         We are all under sin (v.9).
1)         We are all under sin’s dominance. We cannot escape it.
2)         We are all under sin’s destruction. It ruins our lives, our character and our relationships.
3)         We are all under sin’s doom. It condemns us to hell.
b.         Scripture affirms this (v.10-18)
1)         Paul here quotes several Old Testament passages (Ps 14:1-3; 53:1-3; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; Pr 1:16; Is 59:7-8; Ps 31:1).
2)         Each of these quotes affirm that man has a sin problem.
The second problem is that stands in the way of justification is that…
2.        The Law Dooms (v.19-20)
a.         We are all under the law (v.19)
1)         The phrase “under the law” means that we all live within the sphere of the law. The law condemns us.
2)         God’s law applies to every human in order that:
a)         Every mouth may be stopped. No one can truthfully deny he or she is a sinner.
b)         All the world may become guilty before God. God’s law upholds His righteous standard and reveals our great failure.
b.         The Law gives light but no life (v.20).
1)         Because the law cannot give life, all efforts to obey the law will fail to justify any sinner. It is impossible for a human to live a perfect life from birth until death.
2)         When we lived in PNG, when we turned a light in the kitchen at night and cockroaches would run in every direction. The light did not create the pests or kill the pests, it only revealed them. Similarly, the law does not create man’s sin nor does it solve man’s sin problem, it only reveals it.
3)         The purpose of the Law is to give us a precise knowledge of sin, but it cannot justify the sinner. It gives light but no life.
4)         This is one reason why keeping the Sabbath law has nothing to do with salvation. No part of God’s law can save.
Now here is the answer to our question, “How can we be justified?”
3.        Christ Delivers (v.21-31)
a.         God provided His righteousness (v.21-24)
1)         The righteousness of God was already visible. The Old Testament Scriptures, called the law and the prophets, testify of this.
a)         In your mind go with me to the afternoon of Jesus’ resurrection day. As He walked with the two men on the road to Emmaus, He spoke from the Old Testament about Himself. (Luke 24:27) “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
b)         Very likely, one of the many Scriptures Jesus expounded that afternoon was Isaiah 53. It revealed God’s plan for making sinners righteous through Christ. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
2)         Not only is God’s righteousness visible, it is also available (See v.22). It is available by faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. It is available to EVERYONE.
3)         God does not have one version of justification for the religious Jews and another for the godless Gentiles, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (v.23).
a)         We have all sinned from birth.
b)         We daily fall short of God’s glory or praise.
4)         Verse 24 completes the thought begun in verse 22, “… to them that believe … being justified freely…” Though no one deserves it, God justifies all who believe. In other words, God declares each one righteous. That undeserved gift is possible through the redeeming payment made by Jesus Christ. That is the amazing grace of Jesus!
b.         God gives His righteousness to believers (v.25-31)
1)         God set forth Jesus Christ, God the Son as a propitiatory sacrifice.
a)         The word translated propitiation refers to the mercy-seat on the top of the Ark of the Covenant in the OT. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest took two goats. One he killed, carried its blood into the holy of holies and sprinkled it on the mercy-seat, picturing payment for man’s sin. The second goat he let go into the wilderness, picturing the removal of man’s sin as far as the east is from the west.
b)         Christ, on the cross, became the actual propitiatory sacrifice. His blood paid for man’s sin in full and took our sins away forever. This is the ultimate act of love.
c)         William Newell states, “That there must be propitiation does not indicate, primarily, that God is offended and must be appeased; but that God is holy and cannot by sinful creatures be approached.”
2)         However, God planned that the only way to have that propitiation applied to the sinner’s account it is by faith alone. “Faith is the persuasion of the mind that something is true, resulting in complete trust.” Skc Christ paid sin’s guilt in full for every human, but only those who place their trust in Him may receive it.
3)         God declared His righteousness…
a)         First, for sins of OT saints in the past who offered animal sacrifices to cover their sins.
b)         Second, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (v.26).
4)         No one can receive God’s righteousness by trying to obey God’s Law or by doing good works. A sinner is justified by faith alone (v.27-28). When a sinner admits his guilt, realises that nothing he can do will rescue him from hell, and he completely trusts God’s promise alone to justify him based on Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, at that moment God will justify him and declare him righteous.
Conclusion: We have found that Sin Dominates and the Law Dooms, but Christ Delivers. Because Christ became our propitiatory sacrifice, we can be justified, totally forgiven and be reconciled to God. How can we be justified? We can be justified ONLY by faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.
            While millions of religious people know about the death and resurrection of Christ, many of them have not yet received His salvation. They have never truly repented of their sins and trusted Christ’s sacrifice alone for justification. Have you? Are you positive?
Song: Amazing Grace – 236 Think about the words as you sing.