Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

Romans 3:21-26

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
The Propitiationary Sacrifice
The Propitiationary Sacrifice

General Idea: Propitiation or "propitiatory sacrifice" simply means that God takes our place. We cannot be saved by our own actions. We cannot rely on our own efforts, skills, personal connections, family background or our beliefs. Only Christ can wash us clean and declare us righteous, so we are saved from our sins (Eph. 2:8-9). The law is a mirror to show us our uncleanness and need for a Savior! The Law was viewed as a demand in the OT and some see it today as irrelevant and meaningless, but without the law we have no benchmark to see our need. The Gospel does not nullify the law, but fulfills it! Imagine if the judges did that in the criminal court! But Jesus does! So how did God who is holy and pure cleanse us dirty rotten scoundrels? Would He not be affected by our sin? Jesus led the perfect sinless life on our behalf; thus He took our place in perfection in life and sin in death. His Atonement coved us from God's wrath and covered God (protected) from being affected by our sin.

The primary theme for this section of Romans is Justification is by faith alone, righteousness is apart from the Law (3:21‑4:25). The promises of God will be of no use to us unless we have the understanding of God and the obedience to that understanding! We must not have a trace of self-interest in us if we call ourselves His disciples! Never say you cannot surrender yourself!

1. Righteousness comes by faith in Christ

a. The reformational slogan that challenged and solidified what the Bible and the Christian faith was all about. "Sola Fide," by faith alone. This act is divinely initiated.

b. Justification is by grace alone! It is grounded in the obedience of Christ who fulfilled the requirements for us.

c. Faith is the instrument and not the cause, Christ is the cause.

i. It is based on the faithfulness of our Lord, and not of our goodness. Just as animal sacrifice in the O.T. was a means of forgiveness and surrendered attitude because of a loss of something precious, but not the cause (Heb. 9:11-15; 10:1-4).

ii. Sacrifice pointed to what Christ will do in the O.T. Sacrifice cannot be a substitute by itself; it was an instrument, an object lesson.

2. All have fallen short of God's standards; ("whole evil is in man, and whole man is in evil" (Spurgeon).

a. Sin has affected all of our being and all of the world. Even if we have not committed any evil it is still our nature to do so.

b. We all have sinned, some more than others, but the smallest sin falls way short of God's requirements. This is what "total depravity" is all about (see last weeks theological note) and original sin (1 Cor. 15:42-49; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:24; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:10).

c. Growing in faith, education and commitment will prevent sin's practice, but it is still there.

d. God never justifies us outside of Christ!

e. We cannot save ourselves, it is impossible to be saved by merit. God is uniquely and totally just and fair as a judge.

f. The law is the mirror that shows us our fallen state, which gives the evidence for our guilt that Christ can only save.

g. The law is used correctly to reveal sin and point us to our Savior, and can be incorrectly perverted to promote a "works-based" theology.

3. The gospel must wake us up to the plight of other souls with passion and conviction.

a. If you are not caring for others outside of your circle, then pride is in the way. And your life is a false dedication to things that are not centered upon His will. We cannot earn our way, but our way must reflect His work.

b. It is beneficial to do good works, as it is a reflection of our salvation, but does not earn any merit toward it.

c. The Gospel is not contrary to the law; it is the historical fulfillment of the promise from the beginning, as Christ did our work for us:

d. The Gospel is not without the law (Eph. 2:8-8).

e. Redemption is the payment of a price to get something back, such as reclaiming an item from a pawnshop today or freeing a slave in Paul's time.

f. Our redemption is freeing us from the bondage of sin, that we cannot do ourselves (Mark 10:45; 1 Cor. 1:23-25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 9:15).

g. The sacrifice of Christ does not manipulate and force God to love and accept us, but God is the one who initiated it (John 3:16). This is the full expression of love in God's heart.

4. Paul was accused that he was promoting sin, because he was teaching a Gospel by faith and leaving out works, thus no accountability. However, those who are saved in faith should have no desire for sin, and if they do, they are to confess before forgiveness is granted (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 John 1:5-2:1).

a. Those who fall and repent do not stay down (Psalm 32; 37:23-24).

b. Fear of God is respect and reverence, which turns into trust and obedience. Without faith and trust we turn to atheism which requires more faith and more trust than what is conceivable and rational.

c. We are Reconciliation to God. God has a righteous basis for our justification through the sacrifice of His Son, for our sins.

d. Grace was not cheap for God. Christ paid a great debt by pleasing God's wrath, both in metaphysical pain and human pain of the crucifixion (Lev. 16; Psalm 103:12).

Pride is our biggest barrier to know Christ and receive His redemption. We by our fallen nature tend to only seek the pleasure of ourselves and are unable and unwilling to seek God. We have to be awakened by the Spirit to see Him as Savior and to receive His redemption. Without being sought we would never have the faith to see or receive Him. We would just remain in our pride and blinded to our situation of sin. This means we cannot achieve anything spiritually on our own efforts. We cannot be saved, we cannot grow, we cannot worship, and we cannot even serve Him effectively. The great comfort is knowing that He does the work, we only respond. But if we say we are acceptable just by who we are, that I am OK, I do not need Christ for my salvation and or growth we have nothing but pride that leads to our permanent death. Jesus Christ took your place and absorbed God's wrath, He paid your debt! So be willing to allow Him to take you beyond your self, beyond your pride so you remain in Him and not in your pride (John 3:5; 15:5).


Learning Outcomes: a. Know what righteousness means in a deep surrendered level and be able to apply it with the proper attitude and commitment (Gal. 2:20-21; James 1:19; I John). b. Know how righteousness makes you feel and respond to others and yourself. c. Lead a righteous life by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the guidance from the Word!

1. Have you ever been devoted to a rock star or some other celebrity, perhaps even joined their fan club?

2. Propitiation' means what?

3. Why do a lot of people assume that they can be saved by their own actions? Such as I'm a good person, so I will go to Heaven?

4. Who is the One who washes us clean from sin?

5. What do we need to do to initiate this process?

6. What does the law do?

7. Does the Gospel eliminate the Law?

8. Read Eph. 2:8-9; how does this passage tie into Rom. 3?

9. So how did God who is holy and pure cleanse us dirty rotten scoundrels?

10. Would He not be affected by our sin?

11. Why do some Christians teach that the OT is not for us today? What can you say to them to show them the correct reason for the Law?

12. Where does our righteousness come from?

13. What was the church like before the Reformation?

14. Why is justification by grace alone so important to understand the Christian faith?

15. Is faith the cause of us being saved?

16. Why did people in the OT have to make sacrifices?

17. Who has fallen from God's standards?

18. How and what has sin affected your life? (Yours and others close to you)

19. What if you were able to live a perfect sinless life yourself today, would sin still have an affect on you?

20. Why do you suppose we still have the nature to do evil, even though Christ died for our sins?

21. Is there a difference in the size of sin in God's eyes?

22. How will growing in faith, education and commitment will / may prevent sin's practice in your life?

23. Why is it impossible to be saved by merit?

24. Do you see God as the uniquely and totally just and fair Judge?

25. What can you do to help others see God as fair and loving, a perfect judge?

26. What is the principle evidence that you are a sinner?

27. How can the law be used to incorrectly pervert truth and promote a "works-based" theology?

28. What must the gospel do to 'wake us up' to the plight of other souls with passion and conviction?

29. What happens when you and your church are not caring for others outside of your circle?

30. How can you best reflect His work in your life?

31. What is beneficial about doing good works, if we are not saved by them?

32. Why is the Gospel not without the law? (Eph. 2:8-8)

33. How would you explain redemption to a friend?

34. The sacrifice of Christ does not manipulate and force God to love and accept us, even though God is the one who initiated it (John 3:16). So is God right in doing this because most people will not accept His gift and thus will go to Hell, even people we like and consider good?

35. The Jews charged Paul as promoting sin and teaching that there is no accountability. How and why is this not true?

36. Those who are saved in faith should have no desire for sin, but we do anyway, so what are we to do?

37. What will you do today, this week to confess your sin and seek His forgiveness (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 John 1:5-2:1)?

38. What will happen if you decide not to repent (Psalm 32; 37:23-24)?

39. The fear of God is respect and reverence, so what can this insight do for you?

40. Grace was not cheap for God. Christ paid a great debt by pleasing God's wrath, so how can you live your life in response to His gift and sacrifice?

Theological thoughts:

"Sanctification" is the growth we have and do, in Christ, in our trust and obedience. That He provides this is not saving action, it is a response action where we become more like Christ's character. True Sanctification (His Part) is surrendering ourselves entirely to the Holy Spirit, to have His way working in us. Consecration (our part) is being (Gal. 6:14) dedicated to God's service! A bold determination to be interested in only what God is interested in! Usually total surrender requires a crisis to unbalance our lives because we tend to be hardheaded and not yield to God's leading. God will bring us to the point that He requires of us and if we ignore His subtle nudges, be aware; He will use a more severe means to get our attention. So, what do we do? Well, it is simple, or so it seems, to rely on Christ absolutely first and foremost in your life. When Christ takes hold of your life, the course changes to match His will, or so it should. Our life is no longer our own for He is LORD. What this means is our will and desires must be put off and surrendered to Christ! And the biggest and best most fantastic journey will enfold in your life. I personally cannot imagine living any other way (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Luke 24:26; John 15; 17:2; Phil. 3:10; 1 Thess. 4:3; Heb. 2:10).

© 1998, 2004 Into Thy Word from "Walking by Faith: Impressions from the book of Romans," by Richard J. Krejcir ã 2000)

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