'Showing and Sharing the Righteousness of God' (Romans Chp 3 Vs 19 to 31) - J Stewart Gillespie 

God Shows His Righteousness in Salvation 

There is a light that shines through the whole of scripture from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. 

The Word of God makes me aware that that Light and the apparent source of that Light are not one and the same! 

The Word of God distinguishes between the source and the substance 

Generally the ancient mind failed to do this: the commonest god to be worshiped by pagan man: Romans, Egyptians, Philistines, Hindus was the sun god. Why? Because the sun was regarded as the source of all light. Not so in the Word of God. 

Genesis chapter 1: Light is present from day 1 but the sun is not created until day 4 

From Genesis to Revelation the light may well be linked with the sun, the light may well shine as the sun rises morning by morning and diminish as the sun sets evening by evening but long before the sun ever arose for the first time there was Light and long after the sun has sunk for a final time, below the horizon of eternity; the true Light will still shine forever. 

In life my great passion must be to look beyond the horizon of time to lay hold of the eternal Light which radiates from God Himself! 

We often think of the 2 interchangeably but they are not, a bit like light and the sun! In Genesis chp1 ever before God creates the sun He says “let there be light” and at the end of all things there is no sun any longer in heaven for “the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev21:23). 

The sun and the light are helpful to us as a picture of the distinction between source and substance 

It is especially helpful when we recall that 'light' is often given to us in scripture as a picture of Gods righteousness (1 john1:7-10) 

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifest...” (v21) 

"manifested" - revealed or shown “φανερόω” from the Gk word to shine! Gods righteousness is able to shine, in its own intrinsic light independent from the law as the light and the sun! 

Just as it is possible for the light to shine without the sun, so it is possible for righteousness to shine without the law. 

It is Gods righteousness before it is ours : 

Not an inferior righteousness 

Given by God, not Gained by man 

Gods righteousness comes down not worked up 

Experienced by man not earned by mans efforts 

Gods righteousness is as operative in salvation as in condemnation 

Gods righteousness is satisfied by justification not denied 

Not playing off one Divine attribute against another! 

God is always what He is, unchanging 

"I am the Lord I change not." 

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever" 

God is not sometimes all knowing 
God is not sometimes all powerful 
God is not sometimes Holy 
God is not sometimes righteous 

It is not His love and grace desiring to save against His righteousness refusing to save. 

Sometimes we are painted a picture of God being in internal tension, His Righteousness desiring to condemn man and His Grace and Mercy Desiring to save man, this is not the case. 

Rather Gods righteousness comes through His grace (3:24) 

In salvation God is not working in order to deny an essential attribute of His being rather to satisfy that essential attribute of His being! 'I AM just behold and see, let the universe and the heavens examine, I have saved sinners from hell and I am the justifier of those who believe in Jesus.' 

Gods righteous work of salvation is not a contradiction of His condemnation of mans sin but rather a consequence of his condemnation 

Gods righteousness in salvation is not a different righteousness 

It is the attainment of that righteousness by a means other than the law (3:21) 

That righteousness which commences as Gods (3:21) continues as mans (3:22) 

f righteousness as a sta Not a second class righteousness, not a make do righteousness as if we couldn't manage it the proper way, so this will do instead! 

This is "Gods righteousness without law" (3:21) 

In other words we often think of righteousness as a standard, that standard is the law. 

The law did not give rise to righteousness because something or someone gave rise to the law! 

Therefore the righteousness which we have in the law is really a reflection of the righteousness of God which He gave in the law. 

To put it another way: the law doesn't give righteousness, righteousness gave the law! 

The law was Gods means of conveying His righteousness, like the sun is His means of conveying His light but He is not restricted to it! 

So Gods righteousness is greater than the law, since the righteousness gave the law. 

We may well reasonably ask the question: is there more to Gods righteousness than we know in the law? 

The answer is yes! 'The righteousness of God without the law' (3:21) 

This is an interesting idea but not a new one; that Gods Righteousness is greater than the law and extends in scope even beyond the law that He gave because it has already been “witnessed by the law and the prophets,” really the theme of Romans 3:21-31 and chapter 4. 

Is there discernible in the OT scriptures: 

A Righteousness of God “without law”? 
A Righteousness of God that saves rather than condemns? 

Gods righteousness in law is a righteousness that condemns man that finds fault with man, that ushers in judgment (3:20) 

Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18 & 19) 

Gods righteousness in law condemned Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen18:20) : “sin” - the knowledge of “sin” is by the law (Rom3:20), where there is no law sin is not imputed (Rom5:13) so they were under the law – perhaps Gods Creatorial and moral law of Rom 1 or the “law” of conscience (Rom2:14-15). In condemning Sodom and Gomorrah God acted in righteousness as a judge (Gen 18:25). But Lot and his 2 daughters and his wife were brought out of Sodom and Gomorrah! Was he legally righteous? cf. Gen 19:8; 20,32,33. Yet God was acting in righteousness in dealing with this matter (Gen18:25). God was righteous in condemning Sodom. God was righteous in saving Lot. 

Rahab the Harlot (Joshua chp 2) – condemned to die on at least 3 accounts by Gods righteousness in the law: as a cananite, as an inhabitant of Jericho, as an harlot maybe even as being a false witness (2:4), yet Rahab was saved out of Jericho! On what did she depend for her salvation? What gave her the confidence to betray her own people and trust in the Lord? “Ye shall also show kindness” (2:12).... “true token...” (2:12). This is a righteous principle: kindness for kindness, like for like, devotion for devotion! Yet how could she lay claim to Gods righteousness and to that of the righteousness of His servants? She was not righteous and had no righteousness of the law? Gods righteousness condemned her, how could she rest upon that righteousness? We may well say to Rahab: 'I would keep quite about righteousness if I were you!' It was Gods righteousness that would condmen her. Here was a righteousness apart from the law. “We will deal kindly and truly with thee” (v14). A pledge of fairness and righteousness. The righteousness of God that condemns her is the righteousness of God that is able to save her. Gods righteousness condemns Jericho. Gods righteousness saves Rahab. 

The Man Born Blind (John chp 9) 

In John chapter 9 the Lord will create eyes and give light, He will save from blindness. What does that have to do with the righteousness of God? How is Christ revealed in John chp 9? Remember that each miracle in John's Gospel is a “sign”, Christ is being revealed as the “light” in Johns Gospel! There are 2 features of light in the scriptures: 

Light reveals and illuminates understanding 
Light brings in Gods righteousness (1John1:5-7) 

It is as Christ is revealed as the righteousness of God that He moves to save this man from darkness. The Light of God, a picture of His Righteousness, a righteousness which does not utterly destroy this man but which illuminates this man in his darkness. 

God Shares His Righteousness by Faith (v22) 

Gods righteousness unobtainable by law / by deeds (3:20) is attainable by faith, ours by “faith” (3:22) 

Rahab put out the scarlet thread 

Lot went out of Sodom and Gomorrah with the angel, did not look back 

The blind man went and washed in the pool of Siloam. 

If the righteousness of God is not by law then I do not do nor do I keep something to gain it, so how do I gain Gods Righteousness without law? 

I rest in it! I depend upon it! I trust in Him! 

The righteousness of God is not bound by rules / codes / acts / deeds and therefore cannot be received by rules, codes, acts or deeds, it is received by faith! 

Grace brings justification (v24). 

How can God make me righteous if I am a sinner? 

There are 2 words that appear in this section which in English are quite different but in Greek are in fact very similar: righteousness: 'Standard of God ' and justification: 'Standing before God.' 

God Satisfies His Righteousness by Faith (3:25-26) 

Salvation does not run contrary to Gods Righteousness 

Salvation is constructed by Gods Righteousness 

The Cause of Salvation lies in Gods Righteousness : “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (Jas 4:17). If there was a way to save men and women and to maintain Gods character if God failed to take that step He would not be perfectly righteous!It would constitute a sin of omission! The plan of salvation is thus in one aspect a product of righteous necessity! God cannot fail to be less than perfectly righteous! The angle could not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah until Lot was out (Gen19), a scarlet thread was provided for Rahab, Christ did not walk by on the other side of the blind man as the did the priest and the Levite in the parable of the good Samaritan! 

Illust: Car driving too fast, speeds by on a blind bend, ends upside down on a roundabout, bodies lieing out on the ground, 2 people injured and intoxicated, could take the view that they have broken the law, sinned and this is the inevitable consequence of their actions leave them to it! Would this be a righteous response? 

Salvation is constructed by Gods Righteousness The whole plan of salvation is carefully constructed in such a way as to maintain Gods righteousness. Salvation is not a way of getting off with sin! It is the means of buying back the sinner (3:24). God in saving the sinner provides a sacrifice for the sinner. If God saves, God sacrifices (3:25). The cost is real and the cost is paid. The righteousness of God is built into the whole plan of salvation. Righteous ends by righteous means (3:25,26). 

Salvation is Completed and Concluded in Gods Righteousness Gods work in the past in “remitting sins” (v25) is fulfilled now at this time (3:26) in the work of Christ. 

God Saves by His Righteousness - not mine (3:27-31)


Notes from our bible study teaching series of messages preached systematically, verse by verse, through Paul's letter to the Romans. Free to download audio mp3 recordings of this sermon and other sermons are available at the end of this blog and on the website page.    

Yours by Grace in Christ    

Dr J Stewart Gillespie