"Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:21-28, NASB)."

Devotion 10 of 30


Apart from the Law

The first verse of our text makes this bold proclamation. It brings unrest to the legalist because it strikes his religion to the ground. "But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested" (Rom 3:21). The KJV reads, "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets."

Although "the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Rom 7:12), it could not make men holy, just, or good. It was a source of information, but not of power. It testified to the righteousness of God, but could not bring it within the grasp of fallen man. Rather, the Law confirmed the dreadful effects of sin upon the human race. It had rendered men impotent in the matter of perfectly doing the will of God. In the words of Scripture, we were "without strength" (Rom 5:6). Therefore, anything depending upon the strength of unregenerate man was destined to failure. That is precisely why the Law is said to have been "weak through the flesh" (Rom 8:3). Our condition required a Savior, not a commandment, a Propitiation, not a code.

It is not simply that the righteousness of God Himself is made known, i.e., that God is righteous. That is not the point of the text. The Gospel announces the righteousness of God can now be given to men because of the achievements of Christ Jesus. That is the news that makes the Gospel "good." As it is written, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. FOR in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith . . . " (Rom 1:16-17). I can recall very few times hearing Romans 1:16 preached from this perspective--but that is the point the Holy Spirit is making!

This righteousness is "manifested" in participation, not mere proclamation, although proclamation is surely involved. Having declared "there is none righteous, no not one," and that "the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God" (Rom 3:10; 1 Cor 6:9), it becomes apparent that righteousness must be given to us. It must be made known by some way other than human achievement, for God has already told us it is not possible for it to come that way.

God takes the highest and most thorough moral Law ever given, and says righteousness is made known "without," or "apart from," that Law. To confirm the means through which this righteousness is both made known and personally realized, the Spirit continues, "even the righteousness of God, THROUGH FAITH in Jesus Christ, TO ALL and ON ALL who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom 3:22-24, NKJV).

This is a righteousness to which we submit, not one that we develop. As it is written, "For they (the Jews) being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, HAVE NOT SUBMITTED to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Rom 10:3-4). By saying "Christ is the end of the Law," the Spirit does not mean the Law has been terminated and rendered void. Rather, it is no longer the means through which righteousness is appropriated: i.e., "Christ is the end of the law FOR righteousness."

To briefly summarize: God's righteousness is conferred upon, or imputed to, those who believe on His son. It is done apart from, or without, the Law. The Gospel announces this reality, which announcement empowers the Gospel to work salvation.

PRAYER POINT: Father, through Jesus Christ I thank You for a righteousness that does not depend upon law-keeping, but upon believing.