Monday, 18 March 2013
…to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:26
As a demonstration of what has occurred in and through Jesus Christ, Paul says “At the present time.” This is the Greek en to nun kairo and it establishes a link to what was said in the previous verse – “God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” The type of time Paul is speaking of is an on-going movement of time, such the running of a watch as it clicks forward.
As time progressed, God often passed over the sins of the people without bringing judgment on them. This doesn’t mean that God “overlooked” them, but that judgment was merely withheld. All sin will be judged, but out of His mercy, and looking forward to the cross, He stayed His hand of judgment. During this time, as noted in the previous verse, God either didn’t fully punish sin in men or He withheld punishment through an impermanent system of offerings. This was enacted through the nation of Israel as a temporary system of atonement.
Being temporary in nature they only looked forward to something far better. This is the propitiation mentioned in verse 25; it is the shed blood of Jesus. Christ’s offering “at the present time” demonstrates God’s righteousness – looking back on those of the past and forward from the time of Calvary.
This demonstration of His righteousness is that “He might be Just…” What Paul is saying here isn’t speaking of His benevolence, but rather that the integrity of His nature is in no way violated. He remains Just though the sacrifice of Jesus; nothing is morally compromised. This is the very heart of the gospel. God’s perfect character is maintained and yet fallen man is reconciled to Him in the process. It is the highest point of the turning of the universe and to which nothing in the continuum of time could ever compare.
The integrity of the law is maintained through Jesus because He fulfilled the law. Further, because the law already gave the precedent in the doctrine of substitution – an innocent animal in place of man’s sin – the doctrine may satisfactorily continue on and be complete in the more perfect sacrifice of Jesus. All of the moral character of God is seen on display in this great act. Nothing is compromised, nothing is overlooked, and what occurred displays the absolute perfection of God’s plan and the infinite wisdom He possesses.
And not only is He Just in this action, but He is also the “Justifier” in what occurs as well. The One who retains His moral integrity through the giving of Jesus, is also the One who has accomplished all things through Him. Apart from Him, there can be no justification and thus Jesus’ words in John 14:6 can be more clearly understood –
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
No other avenue is available to be restored to the Father because no other avenue can maintain His integrity. Thus what Jesus said about the narrow gate and the wide gate in Matthew 7:13 is easily seen to be true. Jesus is that gate and apart from Him there is only a wide highway to the narrow confines of hell. But through Him is the avenue to the splendid and wide expanse of heaven’s glory. All of the majestic wonder of this paradise is available in only one way – to “the one who has faith in Jesus.”
The gospel is so simple that people miss it time and time again. They trip over the stumbling block. The words of Paul today show the demarcation line. On one side are those who attempt to be justified on their own merits, and on the other are those who depend on faith alone in the works of Christ Jesus for their salvation. There is nothing we can add to it and there is nothing that can be subtracted from it. At one moment in the history of man, God did what was otherwise impossible and He reconciled us to Himself.
Life Application: God asks for faith in what He has done. Nothing else can satisfy our sin-debt because nothing else can meet His perfect moral standard. Take time today to reflect on the cross of Jesus. Understand that it alone is God’s provision for your soul. Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord and in the glory of His cross.
Oh God, I look at the splendor of Your creation and I marvel at its beauty. And yet the creation can never meet the splendor of the Creator. How infinitely beautiful You are. I long to gaze upon Your glory for all eternity, and I know that I can because of the work of Jesus. Thank You O God… thank You for Jesus. Amen.