Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Just and Justifier
Pastor Steve Schell
Romans 3:21-26
There are realities within God’s own heart, ingredients in His eternal nature which cannot be ignored or changed, even by Him. They are essential elements of who He is, and who He is forms the foundation of all creation, of the spiritual and the physical worlds.

Justice and love are both completely true of God, but love is His dominant trait. Above all else He loves. This is why we exist, this is why He has given us freedom, this is why He has made the ultimate personal sacrifice to rescue us from our misuse of that freedom. He is the Rock upon which all of the universe rests. He defines what is good and bad, right and wrong, clean and unclean, beautiful and ugly. And He never changes.

In the passage before us Paul wants us to see that in order to save us God did not violate His own justice. He is able to give the gift of righteousness to those who have faith, not because He is morally indifferent to our sins, but because someone else paid our penalty. The cruel demands of justice, which show no mercy have been met. Today we’ll look into the heart of God and see there some frightening realities… and a depth of love beyond our comprehension.

His terrible justice (Ro 2:4-11)
Have you ever wondered why God puts up with some people? We’ve all known or known of individuals who are especially cruel and selfish, defiant rebels who either don’t believe in God or do believe but have no intention of changing their ways. Their lives are strewn with people they’ve injured, and sooner or later, we may wonder to ourselves, “Why doesn’t God stop this? Why does He sit back and let this continue?” Paul’s answer here may surprise and even shock us. He says God is patient with sinners for a reason… a terrible reason.
• To those who won’t repent, God gives absolute justice. If we’ve chosen to live apart from Him here on earth, once we die that decision becomes permanent.
• We will enter eternity unchanged, carrying our sin with us… full of darkness while immersed in the fire of His glory.
• The more we sin the more we damage ourselves, the more we damage ourselves, the more we suffer in eternity. This is perfect justice… people unable to repent, enduring forever the fear, depression, anger, lust, hatred, etc. that they invited into their own hearts one choice at a time. This is why Jesus said there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Lk 13:28).

The horror of this eternal reality is so great that God puts up with enormous provocation from sinners, giving us time to repent while we still can (2Pe 3:9).

His terrible verdict (Ro 3:23)
If given the justice we deserve every human would end up in that eternal torment. We all deserve to go there.

His righteous realities (Ro 3:24, 26)
God is not able to simply ignore our sins. He must be just, but He is also loving and because of His love He has found a righteous way to justify us. Here are some of the eternal spiritual principles that allowed Him to satisfy justice yet at the same time rescue people from the demands of justice:
1) Moral guilt can be transferred from one person to another. In other words, it is possible for someone to be punished for someone else’s sin (substitution).
2) But a person’s sin can only be transferred to another human. The animal sacrifices in the Bible were only meant as teaching tools and a focus of faith, not a moral equivalent (Ps 51:16, 17; Heb 10:4).
3) That human must be sinless (and no one is...)
4) That human must be willing. The substitution must be a freely chosen gift, not a compulsion.
5) The moral value of the payment must meet or exceed the moral value of the sin (how could the death of one human, even a perfect human, atone for the sins of the whole world?)
6) In order to pay for the sin of the world, God would have to die.
7) For God to die He would have to become a mortal man.
8) To be sinless He would have to be tempted, to be willing He would have to be offered an escape.

His wonderful decision (Ro 3:25)
God must be just. His love cannot violate His justice (even He has to play by the rules). But His love can righteously provide a way of escape for those He loves… if, and only if He or His Son is willing to die in our place. Such love goes beyond human comprehension (Ac 3:17, 18). In fact, in my opinion, not even the devil understood what was taking place on the cross (1Co 2:6-10) and that’s why he willingly encouraged a crucifixion which resulted in the salvation of billions of people. Such selfless love simply never occurred to him and thus God was able to conceal His plan.

Jesus is the centerpoint of history. Those who lived before the cross received the righteousness of faith made possible by the cross when they believed “in Him who justifies the ungodly” (Ro 4:5-8). When someone like Abraham or David called on God for mercy He was able to righteously forgive their sins because He looked forward in time and saw the cross. And now since the cross we have a much clearer picture. We know the name of His Son and what was done to Him, and when we call on Him for mercy God looks backward in time and sees the cross and is able to righteously forgive our sins.

His incomparable love (Ro 5:1, 2, 5-11)
If we grasp the depth of God’s love for us we will never doubt His commitment to save us. Paul says we can be certain (exalt, boast) that we have been rescued from God’s wrath and will live forever in His glory. He points us to two indisputable proofs of this fact:
1) v5 — Listen to your heart. The Holy Spirit who dwells in you is telling you how much God loves you.
2) vs6-11 — Look at what He was willing to do for you while you were still His enemy. He loves you at a level of personal sacrifice beyond human comprehension. So imagine how much He loves you now that you’re His friend (Ro 8:31-39).

This gift of incomparable love is given to those who receive it by faith, and faith is a choice. If we will, you and I can choose to believe God’s Word.

1) Was God patient with you before you became a Christian? Can you look back and see times He cared for you even when you didn’t serve Him? Give us an example.
2) Paul says that the Holy Spirit tells us God loves us. Think back to a moment when God told you how much He loved you. If you’re willing, would you describe what happened and how it effected you? 

Return to Sermon Notes