In Romans 3:21-24, Paul speaks of the great Gospel truth of redemption.
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (NKJV)
THE PRICE IS PAID! All that has been required to purchase our freedom has been met. Paul, in these verses takes us into the slave market. You must remember that when he wrote these words, men and women were bought and sold as pieces of property.
This is a perfect illustration of our condition without Christ. Sin enslaves us. The fetters by which we are held are unbreakable insofar as human effort is concerned. That’s why the Apostle underscores here that none of us can be saved by keeping the law. The righteousness God provides is “apart from the law” (Rom.3:21a).
This righteousness by faith, however, was not unknown to those living under the Old Covenant, “being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.” (Rom.3:21b). No one has ever been saved by their own goodness—not even the Old Testament saints. For example, Abraham was declared righteous by faith, “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen.15:6). The faith of those believers in that prior dispensation looked forward to the coming of Christ, while ours looks back to the cross. Still, that is the only way anyone has ever been saved, “even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference” (Rom.3:22).
The reason this is the universal provision is that there is a universal problem—we are all enslaved to sin, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom.3:23). Christ, however, has come into the slave market of sin and paid the price to free us. That’s what “redemption” means (v.24).
We are justified “freely”—at no cost to us, for it cost Christ His very life’s blood. It is said to be “by His grace,” meaning Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves—nor did we deserve it and would never merit it. So, we have been set free from sin’s penalty—we are saved; free from sin’s power—we are sanctified; and one day, free even from sin’s presence—to be glorified!
How do I respond to this?
I bow my unworthy head, and say, “Thank You, Jesus!” I bend my knees and submit to my new Master—no longer a slave to sin, but to the Savior—not held by fetters of domination, but chains of devotion. I become a slave to love.
“And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
‘Jesus died my soul to save,’
My lips shall still repeat.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain—
He washed it white as snow” (Elvina M. Hall)