Posted On May 21, 2021

Romans 3:25–26, “25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Though Scripture is our only infallible authority, we can learn much about what the Bible teaches by considering the issues that have occupied the theologians of ages past. Considering today’s passage, few theologians are more helpful than Anselm of Canterbury, the medieval archbishop whose work Cur Deus Homo is among the most significant treatises on the atonement. Anselm wrestled with the key question that underlies Romans 3:25–26: how can our righteous Creator forgive sin and remain true to His character?

To those who think that being sorry for the evil we have done is the only thing God requires to forgive sin, Anselm says, “You have not as yet estimated the great burden of sin.” Anselm understood that the Lord could not vindicate His own character if He did not require payment for transgression. God is so honorable and our sin is so dreadful that a payment must be made if He is to pardon us without sacrificing this honor.

Speaking of sin and atonement in terms of honor does not do full justice to the biblical witness. Yet Anselm was correct that while God is not obligated to pardon us, He cannot violate His character if He does choose to forgive us. This is what the Apostle Paul teaches. Having established that the basis or grounding of our right status before our Creator is “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Paul describes this redemption as the propitiation— the satisfaction of divine justice—that shows God’s righteousness (v. 25). Scripture tells us repeatedly that our just God will not clear the guilty; He will not let sinners get off scot-free (Num. 14:18; Nah. 1:3). Just as a human judge is unjust if he does not punish convicted criminals with a just sentence, the Lord would be unjust merely to pass over sin. Before Jesus, God passed over sins, even the sins of the old covenant saints who offered sacrifices according to the law of Moses to atone for evil (Rom. 3:25). Justice was not done when people sacrificed bulls and goats; God accepted these offerings in His great forbearance because He knew His Son would offer the necessary atonement at just the right time.

In putting forth Jesus as our propitiation, the Lord vindicated His righteousness, ensuring that He remains just even as He becomes the Justifier of those who believe in Christ Jesus (v. 26). God provides what sinners need to be righteous in His sight without compromising His justice. When we are accounted righteous in Christ, justice is still done, but we do not feel the punishment our sin deserves. Instead, Jesus suffered it in our place.

Coram Deo

Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary on Romans: “In the drama of justification, God remains just. He does not set aside His justice; He does not waive his righteousness; he insists upon it… . If all he did was maintain his righteousness without extending the imputation of that righteousness to us, he would not be the justifier. He is both just and justifier, which is the marvel of the gospel.” Only in biblical religion does God remain just when He forgives people.

Just and Justifier, Copyright (2021), Ligonier Ministries.

Related Posts

The Matter of Whether Necessary Evil Is Biblical or Not

The Matter of Whether Necessary Evil Is Biblical or Not

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “Is a Necessary Evil Biblical?” What you’ll hear in this episode How Scripture Speaks of Evil. Three Helps for Facing Evil and Suffering. Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to the Servants...

Israel’s Temporary Hardening

Israel’s Temporary Hardening

Romans 11:23-24, “And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive...

Dave Jenkins- The Relationship Between Scripture and Tradition

Dave Jenkins- The Relationship Between Scripture and Tradition

On today’s Equipping You in Grace show, Dave considers the meaning of Sola Scripture, tradition, and the value of church history, the authority of Scripture, Christian conscience, and tradition, and why the Church has good answers to the issues of the day. What you’ll...

What’s the Problem? Dealing with Life

What’s the Problem? Dealing with Life

We live in a day where everybody seems to have problems constantly. I often feel like I am surrounded by people saying, “I do not know how to adult,” while I am sitting at my desk thinking, “Well, I do.” Sure, some of this is just a Western cultured joke, but the...

Broken Branches

Broken Branches

Romans 11:19-22, “19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the...

Approved Workers

Approved Workers

On today’s Warriors of Grace show, Dave continues the 2 Timothy series looking at 2 Timothy 2:14-21 and teaching Christians the truth and how to handle error correctly, and dealing with false teachers. What you’ll hear in this episode Dealing with false teachers....

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share2
Reddit
Email
Buffer
Tweet