I must admit: Romans 1, 2 and the first part of 3 were not my favorite. A positivity girl, I squirmed and grimaced my way through those first 81 verses. I told myself, “not me!” I wanted to point the finger at others. I wanted to only see the good in me, the positive side of the story, the good stuff I did, the right choices I made. I wanted to ignore the truth: that I am no better than the next person. I wrestled and wrestled with the message: I am not good. I am a sinner. I am a sinner just like everyone else.
This group of believers in Rome were divided – who was right? Who was better? Paul continued to level the playing field – We are all common in our sin.
Then verse 21:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 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. 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 3:21-26
Those two words, two glorious words that finally bring the good news my positive heart needed to hear:
Paul turns it around. We are not only common in our sin, but we are also common in our salvation. I have studied through this verse many times over the last months, combing through the richness of the language Paul uses here. Stacey Thacker and I discuss several in this week’s video (see below), but here, I want to show you two beautiful definitions that made what God did through Jesus Christ come to new light for me.
1. “Justified as a gift” (v. 24)
I love giving gifts; it’s one of my love languages. But the best gifts are always the unexpected ones. People expect gifts for birthdays or when they are good. It’s when we don’t deserve the gift that it truly has meaning. I love the ESV version of this verse because it uses the word gift. The Greek Word used for gift is dōrea, and it means “given unearned or without recompense. Not involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration.”
God gave us the gift of Jesus freely – without expecting a return benefit. In verse 25, Paul writes that God held back judgement- passing over the sins previously committed. Y’all, God knew ours hearts. He knew we would turn away. He knew we would sin. He knew we would forget, yet He sent His son anyway. Who does that?! Who loves despite our faults? Who pursues even when we run away? And He does it freely – not expecting a return benefit.
2. “through redemption that came by Jesus Christ” (v. 24)
The thing about a gift is that is doesn’t cost the receiver anything, but it does have a price: one that the giver pays. Redemption is one of those big churchy words (see video below for more on this), but it means “a releasing effected by payment of ransom.” It’s the Greek Word apolytrōsis. He removes the debt of our sin because He paid the ransom. The cost was dear: the life of His Son. But oh, what good news. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we can come near. We can access to this faith.
What good news! A gift we didn’t deserve at a price paid for us. That is the foundation of our faith. As we enter the season of Lent, let us set aside time each week to let these truths marinate in our hearts. Let us remember the high price paid for us. Let us not forget the good news of Jesus Christ and how that changed the world.
Or listen to the audio:
For this Week:
- Read Romans 4, focusing on Romans 4:18-25
- Gather with some girlfriends and talk about what you read.
- Discover: What three truths did you learn from this passage?
- Discuss: What do you of Abraham’s history (refer to Genesis 15)? Despite his mess ups, his actions were “credited to him as righteousness.” How does this encourage you?
- Share: Read vv. 18-25 in The Message version. According to this passage, how would you define hope? When you situation seems “against all hope,” how can you practically remember God’s promises and power?
- Memorize Romans 4:20-21
- Come back next week for Video 4.