Lent Devotional: Romans 3:21-26

by Jonathan Haefs

Romans 3:21-26 (click here)
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 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. 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. (Romans 3:23-26)

How can God forgive sinners?

That’s a question nobody is asking and everybody should be asking it! We all just expect God to forgive… that’s kinda his job isn’t it? And, aren’t I worth it! I mean… deep down, I think we all believe that we actually deserve forgiveness. We ironically believe that we deserve grace.

In reality, not only do we not deserve grace, but giving grace is actually a real problem for God! For, how can he graciously forgive sinners and still be righteous? In other words, how could he sweep sin under the rug and still be doing what is right?

How can God forgive sinners?

None of us would think a judge is just if he or she simply let all criminals go free. That would not be right! None of us would think an employer just if they simply let one of their employees take advantage of everyone else by skipping work all the time and blaming their unproductiveness on others. That would not be right! None of us would think our parents were just if they let our siblings get away with everything, especially if it meant we had to take responsibility for their mistakes! That would not be right!

In an infinitely greater way, it would not be right… God would not be righteous if he simply swept sin under the rug. No! He treats sin justly, rightly… it all bears the wrath it deserves! So the question lingers…

How can God forgive sinners?

God himself answered that question by taking on flesh! Jesus Christ served as our substitute and bore our sin along with all the wrath it deserved. God’s righteous justice was poured out upon our sin at the cross! There… God was just! AND at the cross God was the justifier, making sinners right with him so that they may be forgiven!

“This was to show God’s righteousness” declares Romans 3! This was to show how God can forgive sinners! Not by sweeping sin under the rug, but by sweeping it onto himself! This is the heart of the Gospel good news… God substituted himself for you!

We serve a righteous God who deals justly with sin… and he does so in the most loving way so that we get him!

How can God forgive sinners? By being the only one who is just… AND the justifier!

*All previous devotionals may be found at 
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.