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Thoughts on Romans 3:21

Rom 3:21  But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

But now a righteousness from God,

Righteousness - The general usage, according to Webster's, is conformity to a standard.
    Whose standard? God's. Is it possible for man to uphold God's standard? Nope, never has, never will, not while we are living on this earth.
Since man cannot uphold his end of the righteousness spectrum then we are wholly dependent upon God's righteousness.
    Now "a righteousness from God" would imply that the ability to carry out the Spirit's intention comes from God and is God designed. Here is the logic that I see in this. If it was the righteousness of God then it would his alone, and while the mentors attributes surely have an impact they are still the mentors and not mine. Obviously we can assimilate some aspects, but are we mimicking or truly trying to emulate one we love. To say that the righteousness is from God implies that he has given those attributes to us.

    Now God is perfect in every way, and one might think that we should act the same way that he does, especially if God gave us his attributes. Sadly, we are broken receptacles and destined to leak.

    Here is the good news in this. God, having done this for us, only sees us this way, regardless of our choices.

apart from law
    Righteousness was deeply imbedded in the following of laws, but we know that no one could do it, save Jesus, and the law never made anyone righteous. Therefore there is nothing that we can do to make ourselves righteous.

has been made known
    This is a past tense idea. Paul continues to define it, but here is the catch; it is nothing new, for it was there all the time. Have you ever given this some thought. Paul did not just make this stuff up. Everything he taught, he taught from the Torah, or direct revelation from God. Wait a minute, some might say, I thought the Revelations about Christ were all new information? No.

to which the Law and Prophets testify.

    For thousands of years God's prophets spoke of a righteousness that was to come and no one seemed to hear. The law that controlled and governed their lives spoke of this righteousness and yet they (Israel, and now we religious folk) could not see it.
    The law and the prophets testified to it. They spoke of it like lawyers; validating its claims, and lifting it up as true and worthy of regard, but that was as far as it got. That truth was Jesus and he was God's method of restoring us back to the place of our creation, one which was pure and had the ability to commune in unbroken fellowship with God.

    Certainly there are more than enough things that attempt to get in  the way of our returning to fellowship with God. Satan for one, the first to explore pure selfishness, would love to have you worshipping him and not the Father, but it is possible and many have found that place of fellowship. Enoch did, and one day he walked off this earth. Paul seems to have found that place it, and so have others. It is not impossible, but it is a path filled with land mines that are only intended to distract you.

Look at some of these passages.
(Jeremiah 31:11 RV)  For the LORD has ransomed Jacob, and redeemed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
    The writer is speaking prophetically and in the past tense. "For the Lord has ransomed Jacob," and yet that physically had not happened yet. Where did the ransom come into play? At Christ's death and resurrection. Still to come at the time this was written, and yet in God's eyes it was a done deal.
    What is it to ransom someone? To pay the price that is demanded for the release of those captive. In return for payment the captives are set free. Now there is a concept. Christ's death and resurrection paid for our release from sin and bondage to the debt, and gave us the opportunity, once again, to become sons.
    Who is the one "stronger than he"? He being Jacob/Israel. We are talking about a nation, and yet this one was stronger. If you are captured say by Babylon, would not Babylon be the stronger one? Certainly, but the implications are larger. In this case it is the captor, Satan. There was only one price sufficient to pay off this debt to such a one, and that was Jesus blood.

(Jeremiah 31:31 GNB)  The LORD says, "The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
    While only moments ago he spoke in the past tense of a ransom being paid, he is now speaking of a future time when he will make a new legal agreement with his people. Are we not talking about the same time though. Paul, in his letter to the Romans talked about covenant not taking effect until the testator passes away. Christ passed away and took the old agreement to the grave with him. In its place a new covenant or legal document was created. One more binding and yet because it is written upon the heart offers more freedom. This says that the covenant is with Israel and Judah. Are we then excluded? No, we are brought in by adoption.

(Romans 8:15 MKJV)  For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father!

(Romans 8:23 MKJV)  And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body.

(Galatians 4:5 MKJV)  that He might redeem those under Law, so that we might receive the adoption of sons.

(Ephesians 1:5 MKJV)  having predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Jeremiah 31:33-34 MKJV
(33)  but this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel: After those days, says Jehovah, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
(34)  And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.

(Ezekiel 36:25 GNB)  I will sprinkle clean water on you and make you clean from all your idols and everything else that has defiled you.
    Remember that we are washed by the water of the word. Ephesians 5:26 KJV  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

(Isaiah 53:1-12 KJV)  Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?  (2)  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.  (3)  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  (4)  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  (5)  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.  (6)  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  (7)  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.  (8)  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.  (9)  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.  (10)  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.  (11)  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.  (12)  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

I will tell you this. While I believe that I see a merciful, forgiving God in the Letter to the Romans, apparently there are few that also see this. As I sat at coffee the other morning (there were only Christians there and one was a pastor friend.) the discussion got around to sinners and how they are lost unless they straighten up. It was much more explicit than that, hopefully you get my drift. My memory does not serve me as well as it should and I feel so ill equipped to do battle with people. Perhaps that is not my calling, but my spirit was so disturbed by their lack of understanding of how thorough the ransom  was that paid by Christ death. Folks I have to tell you. Jesus was enough, and God not only knew it, but saw to it. Now if someone is lost it is only because they refuse to accept that God paid their way and he did it through Jesus Christ his Son. The letter to the Romans does tell us that one must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, (I suppose that really takes in a lot when you think about it) and you are in. How easy is that, unless of course you refuse to believe.


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