Consider the text of Romans 3:10-26.
10as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13“THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14“WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; 15“THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 18“THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” 19Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. 21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Now let’s just let the Word of God simmer in our minds for just a moment. Ponder the profundity of what the Apostle Paul was inspired to write here. With quotes from numerous Psalms and the prophecy of Isaiah, he paints a pretty dismal picture of the condition of humanity. There is no one excluded from the assessment. Perhaps the most damaging statement lies in verse 18 when Paul quotes Psalm 36:1 telling us (by way of the church at Rome) that we do not fear God. Read the whole verse in Psalm 36: “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.” This is the state of humanity. Read verse 20: “…by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight.” That means that we can’t be good enough. We can’t do enough of the right things. We can’t live a life that is worthy enough. We can’t earn our way to heaven. There is NOTHING we can do in and of ourselves that will justify us before a holy and righteous God. We are completely hopeless. Until…
Verse 21 gives us very good news. There is a righteousness that has been revealed that has nothing to do with keeping the Law. It is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe.” Does this mean that I can come to God even though I have messed up? Does this mean that God will accept me even though I constantly disappoint Him? Does this mean that I can spend eternity with Christ in heaven despite my horrible past? Yes, yes, and yes. Let’s keep reading, shall we?
We are ALL sinners. We have ALL sinned. This is why Paul says at the end of verse 22 that there is “no distinction.” All of humanity is in the exact same condition with the exact same need. None of us is any better off or worse off than any of the rest of us. We ALL fall short of God’s holy standard. That is what makes the rest of the passage so unbelievably beautiful! Everyone who believes in the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus as their only hope for being justified before God is given a priceless gift. We are justified by the grace of God “through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation (substitutionary sacrifice) in His blood through faith.”
So how are the guilty justified? It’s pretty simple, actually. God is the “justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
There is no second option. There is no plan B. Jesus is the only plan there is. God displayed His great love, grace, and mercy by sending His Son Jesus Christ to live a life that we are incapable of living and to die a death that we fully deserving, so that all who would believe in Jesus, accepting by faith the sacrifice He made for us through His death, burial, and resurrection, would not suffer eternal separation from God, but instead would enjoy eternal fellowship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If you want to be justified before God, embrace the gospel. Believe in Jesus. Trust in His finished work for your salvation. There is no other way.