Romans 3:9 states, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.” This verse establishes that all people, regardless of their background, are subject to sin. No one is exempt.
In verses 10 and 19, the apostle Paul emphasizes this point further. He writes, “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one'” and “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.“
Verse 23 concludes this section by stating, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” These verses collectively remind us of the universal nature of sin. Every person, without exception, has sinned and falls short of God’s perfect standards. Sin is not exclusive to a particular group of people but permeates the entire human race.
Righteousness, as mentioned in Romans 3:10, is the state of being right in God’s sight, conforming to His holy and perfect nature. It is the ability to stand in God’s presence without fear or guilt.
While sin separates us from God, righteousness allows us to have a restored relationship with Him. It is a state of moral and spiritual integrity, in which we align our lives with God’s perfect standards. It is being morally and spiritually upright, reflecting God’s character in our lives.
Contrary to societal standards, righteousness does not originate from our own efforts or adherence to human laws. God’s judgment is not based on the laws of men but on His divine law, which transcends human regulations.
Self-Righteousness vs. True Righteousness
Self-righteousness is a deceptive mindset that leads people to judge their righteousness based on human standards. It involves comparing oneself to others and finding a sense of superiority in adhering to societal norms. However, according to God’s standards, any violation of His law makes us transgressors. Self-righteousness, therefore, is a flawed and inadequate measure of true righteousness. And so self-righteousness is insufficient for salvation.
James 2:10-11 affirms this truth, stating, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.“
Even a single transgression of God’s law makes us guilty before Him. Just as breaking one commandment renders us a transgressor, committing any sin, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, makes us lawbreakers in need of God’s forgiveness.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a parable aimed at those who trusted in their self-righteousness rather than in God’s grace. This parable teaches us the importance of humility and recognition of our sinfulness. The parable features a Pharisee and a tax collector.
The Pharisee, a strict adherent to religious laws, prayed to himself, not genuinely seeking God. He arrogantly boasted about his righteous acts, thanking God that he was not like other sinful people. The Pharisee’s prayer demonstrated a self-righteous attitude devoid of true humility and dependency on God.
The Pharisee represents those who trust in themselves and their own righteousness. They compare themselves favorably with others and rely on their works.
On the other hand, the tax collector, known for his corrupt practices, stood at a distance, acknowledging his unworthiness before God. He beat his chest in deep remorse, pleading for mercy. Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector recognized his need for God’s forgiveness and approached Him with a humble heart.
Jesus concludes the parable by stating that it was the tax collector, not the self-righteous Pharisee, who went home forgiven.
This parable reveals that true righteousness is not achieved through self-exaltation but through humility and reliance on God. The tax collector’s humility and genuine repentance opened the door to receive God’s mercy and salvation.
Humility and Salvation
Humility plays a vital role in receiving God’s grace. 1 Peter 5:5 affirms this, stating, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humility is not about speaking negatively about ourselves in the presence of others. It is about recognizing our total dependence on God and acknowledging His authority.
Pride, on the other hand, rejects the need for God and exalts itself.
True humility involves recognizing our complete dependence on God rather than boasting in our own achievements.
Salvation is a gift of God’s grace, freely offered to all who believe. Ephesians 2:8-9 declares, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Our salvation is not achieved through self-effort or a checklist of religious actions but through faith in Jesus Christ. We must believe in Him as our Savior, acknowledging our sinfulness and our need for His redeeming sacrifice on the cross.
It takes humility to admit that we have fallen short of God’s standards and are in need of His forgiveness. Romans 1:29-32 emphasizes that all sinners deserve death. We cannot rely on our own merit or good works to save us. Instead, we must turn to God with a humble heart and seek His grace.
The Cost of Redemption
The cost of our redemption was immeasurable. 1 Peter 1:18-19 reveals that we were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ, who was sinless and blameless.
God gave the best He had to offer—His Son—to purchase our freedom from sin and its consequences. The innocent died for the guilty, and through His sacrifice, we are redeemed and reconciled with God.
Jesus became our substitute, willingly laying down His life to pay the penalty for our sins. He took upon Himself the punishment we deserved, bearing the weight of our guilt and shame. His sacrificial death on the cross serves as the ultimate demonstration of God’s love and grace towards humanity.
Receiving God’s Gift
God’s gift of salvation is offered freely to all who believe. It is not a cheap or insignificant gift but one that cost God dearly. The value of the gift is determined by the price paid, and God gave His very best—His Son, Jesus Christ.
Just as a gift must be received to benefit from it, we must personally receive God’s gift of salvation through faith. Faith goes beyond mere intellectual agreement; it involves trust and reliance. In the context of Salvation it means relying completely on who Jesus is and what he has done for us to be made right with God.
Romans 10:9 states, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Salvation is found in placing our trust in Jesus Christ alone, surrendering our lives to Him and acknowledging Him as Lord.
In conclusion, Romans 3:9, 10, 19, and 23 highlight the universal reality of sin, emphasizing that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards.
True righteousness is not attained through self-righteousness or conformity to societal norms but through faith in Jesus Christ.
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector teaches us the importance of humility and genuine repentance in receiving God’s forgiveness.
Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, made possible by the costly sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
By believing in Him and surrendering our lives to Him, we can experience the transformative power of God’s love and receive the gift of eternal life.
Have you ever accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, surrendering your life to Him?
If not, you can pray this prayer and begin a new life in Christ.
I come before You in the Name of Jesus, seeking Your forgiveness. I confess that I’ve gone astray and long to be right with You. Your Word says that if I confess with my mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in my heart that You raised Him from the dead, I will be saved (Romans 10:9). I believe and declare that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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