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  • Writer's pictureBetty Dodge

Human Goodness Isn't Good Enough (Romans 1:16-17)

[For] I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [¹⁷For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."] —Romans 1:16-[17]

Romans 1:16 says the gospel is the "power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." The gospel is unifying, making all believers of all people groups around the world into one body, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Then in verse 17, we read that in the gospel, God's righteousness "is revealed from faith for faith." What does the Bible tell us about this principle?

Righteousness is not something man can achieve in his own strength. The Bible tells us "there is none righteous, no not one" (Romans 3:10). Righteousness cannot come from within us, but must be imputed to usput on us and in us by God, through faith in the righteous one, Jesus Christ.

Our definition of righteousness can get confused by our culture. Most people will try to be nice, be helpful, volunteer time and talent, and be good citizens, obeying the laws of the land. Society might even say such a person is a good person. Yet, while these behaviors are commendable, they cannot wash away the sin nature of a person or justify a person before God. Our attempts at goodness can never achieve the righteousness or glory of God (Romans 3:23).

God’s righteousness is revealed to us in the gospel. The righteousness He requires is given through faith in Jesus Christ: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Such faith will increasingly bear the fruit of righteousness in us. As it says, “...the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith.”

We learn about the depths of the connection between righteousness and faith as we go on in the letter to the Romans. As you read the verses below, by the grace of God through Christ Jesus, may He give you greater knowledge and wisdom to better equip you in the fight of faith.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 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 3:21-26)

For if, because of one man’s [Adam’s] trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:17-21)

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