The People’s Court
Have you ever seen an episode of the Peoples’ Court? What are the usual proceedings in a case? Who are the main participants? This might be a silly example, but it helps us focus on what happens in a court hearing. In Romans 3:19-26, Paul switches metaphors and brings his argument into a heavenly courtroom scene. By doing so, he discusses what takes place when we’re saved from a judicial perspective.
Statement of Charges (3:19-20)
Up to this point, Paul has established that humanity is justly convicted of sin. We’re guilty as charged and the just punishment for our sins has been determined. In this scenario, the judge has an easy case and the court appearance is really just a formality. With guilt and punishment firmly established, there is no case to plead. How would you feel if you were standing before a judge simply waiting for the gavel to drop?
Justice through Faith (3:21-23)
But what if before the gavel dropped a new law was passed, which forced the judge take other issues into consideration. Under the old law, you were guilty and had no case. However, under the new law there was an opportunity to be declared innocent of all charges! Similarly, Paul explains that God has authorized a new form of justice, which is through faith. Whereas before one needed to abide by the Law, now God requires faith in Jesus Christ. How is this good news for all of us?
The Gift of Justification (3:24-26)
Some see this as a free get out of jail pass. But the gift of justification does not imply that a price was not paid. On the contrary, someone did pay a price for our liberty. God gave his Son and Jesus gave his life. What should be the appropriate response to such a gift?