Unto All and Upon All
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference. Romans 3:21-22
God Now Sees Us Apart from the Law
Until this time, in the book of Romans, the address of God has been to the one nation He delivered the law to - Israel. The covenants, sacrifices, priesthood, gospel and teaching of the word was given to this nation. The law could never remove sin, guilt, pay the debts or remove the fears of those who had sinned and were born into sin.
At the cross, the law was removed and righteousness was now available to all mankind, every color, race, gender, income and social level. God's righteousness, apart from the law, is a reference to salvation through Jesus Christ only. All that is required by man is faith in Jesus Christ and His plan of redemption. The barrier which caused God's anger toward our sins has been replaced with grace and compassion toward man despite his sins. God no longer sees mankind through the law. Once the law was removed, God can look directly on us in love. The thunder, wind and earthquake is over and the still small voice of grace is speaking.
Two Things are Said of God’s Righteousness to Us
First – It Is Unto All
God's righteousness is first said to be unto all. The emphasis here is that we, as Gentiles, were strangers and foreigners to the covenants of God. We have now been brought to the cross by the blood of Jesus and all that is required is our faith to receive the righteousness of God. This righteousness is first of all something we become, not something simply added to our life or something accounted us. We are not sinners just saved by grace. We used to be sinners, and now we have been saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And, as surely as Jesus became sin for us on the cross, we have become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The veil of the temple has been torn down and removed so all people can experience the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, when the Church began, the Holy Spirit moved into the bodies of all who believe in Jesus. We are the temple of God. God's righteousness lives in me and that righteousness is something I have become.
The Church today now has the covenants, the gospel and word of God to take to the nations. A Church made up of all people can take the gospel and word to all people, fulfilling the Great Commission, "into all the world" (Mark 16:15).
The same message given to Jesus to preach in His day has been given to us. We stand in Jesus' place as ambassadors of God, preaching "be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Second – It Is Upon All
God's righteousness is, secondly, said to be upon all. The same God who made us His righteousness has also clothed us with righteousness. The righteousness God made us is to be seen only by Him. But, the righteousness He has placed upon us, clothed us with, is for others to see - the world of demons and the world of people who surround us. “I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy” (Psalm 132:16). There is a salvation seen only by God, but there is also a salvation seen by the world which is a display of our inward nature of God's righteousness.
Let Righteousness Work
The promise given to Abraham and his children, that one day they would inherit the world, did not come because he followed the rules of the law. Romans 4:13
One day, Abraham discovered the difference between the law and faith. He hadn’t even been given the law, yet he was trying in his own strength to make it come to pass.
Even before the Ten Commandments were given, Abraham was trying to please God by his own works and one day he realized it could not be done. One day Abraham realized he could only please God through the righteousness of faith.
I believe Abraham had righteousness all that time but he just wouldn’t let it work. God kept trying to get through to Abraham, “Let me do it Abraham,” and Abraham kept trying to help God through his own works. Abraham tried to help God for twenty-five years before he finally said, “Okay God, You do it!” All those years it was Abraham’s self-effort until finally he received revelation of the righteousness of God through faith.
Let the World See
God's righteousness in us is not a product of our works nor is it sustained by our works. It is totally a product of God's grace and received by our faith. But, our outward righteousness is a display of our works to men. Not only does God need to see our salvation, people need to see it also. Outward righteousness that which is upon us, is a form of witnessing. We display the gospel by our words and by our deeds. We are not saved by works before God, but we are saved unto good works to be seen by men. James tells us we are saved before God and we are saved before men. Before God is by our faith and before men is by our works. God can see our faith, the world cannot. They can only see the display of our faith which is our works of love toward God and especially men. This is our clothing of righteousness, the outward display of our salvation.
Our walk of righteousness is living a sinless life before others. We need to show the world that God not only forgives all of our sins, but also gives us the power to live free from sin. Only a Christian has the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the word to resist sin. "Your word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against God" (Psalm 119:11).
I am sure you have heard the phrase, "actions speak louder than words.” This is very true for the Christian life. A member of the world's population would say it this way, "I would rather see a Christian witness than hear one.” In other words, they are saying they want to see the righteousness of God that is upon us, more than hear of the righteousness that is in us. If we are wearing a robe of righteousness, let us ever be aware of it and act like the children of God. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The crowds in Antioch saw Jesus in the life of the disciples and called them little Jesus'. What does the world see in your life?