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  • Chad Werkhoven

Romans 3:21-26 - The 'Holy Grail'

You need one thing more than anything else. Find it here.


Romans 3:21-26 (NIV)

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 20: The Justice and Mercy of God in Christ

We believe that God—

who is perfectly merciful

and also very just—

sent his Son to assume the nature

in which the disobedience had been committed,

in order to bear in it the punishment of sin

by his most bitter passion and death.

So God made known his justice toward his Son,

who was charged with our sin,

and he poured out his goodness and mercy on us,

who are guilty and worthy of damnation,

giving to us his Son to die,

by a most perfect love,

and raising him to life

for our justification,

in order that by him

we might have immortality

and eternal life.



It would be tough to count how many sacrifices are presented to God throughout the course of the Bible. There are at least twenty specific sacrifices mentioned, starting with Cain & Abel's in the garden, and including ones from other key characters in the Bible, such as Abraham, Moses and David. I'll admit I thought that number would be higher, but when coupled with the nearly constant flow of sacrificial blood in the temple, the number skyrockets.

But here in Romans 3, we read of a much different sacrifice. This is the sacrifice God presented, which was a sacrifice of atonement - a word that quite simply means payment. So in a very real sense, God presented this sacrifice to Himself; He paid Himself the debt that your sins accrued.

The daily sacrifices in the Tabernacle and Temple were extremely bloody affairs. But they had to be, since they symbolized the payment for sins. As Hebrews 9:22 puts it, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. God had made clear in His original covenant with Adam (who represented you) that death would result from sin, and since blood represents life, all of those Old Testament sacrifices involved gallons of blood being poured out each day.

But Hebrews goes on to report that "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb. 10:4)." God needed to shed blood in the sacrifice He presented, but it had to be something more substantial than a beast. And so "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood."

Dig Deeper

The Holy Grail - supposedly the cup Jesus used during the Last Supper - has been the quest for intrepid explorers and imaginative screenwriters for centuries. If only a person could find that cup and drink from it, he would become immortal. Or so the legend goes.

But you don't need a cup.

What you need, more than anything else in all of creation, is perfect righteousness. This is what God demands in His covenant with us, and this will be the very first thing He asks of you as you stand before Him: Do you have the perfect righteousness required to attain eternal life?

Since you don't have this required righteousness on your own, v21 ought to really grab your attention: "The righteousness of God" - the one thing you need so badly - "has been made known." This righteousness, which has infinitely more power than a lousy cup, is not something that you need to seek or fight battles to attain. Rather, "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."

You likely have all sorts of problems and worries that you've set aside for just a few minutes as you read God's Word, and those problems will be right where you left them when your finished. But take a moment to give thanks that you've attained the Holy Grail - that is, the perfect righteousness of God that gives you the right to eternal life.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who demonstrated His justice against His Son so that He could demonstrate His mercy to you;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that as you return to the problems and worries of life, you'll remember that you have attained by faith the most valuable thing possible: eternal life in Christ Jesus.



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Ephesians 6


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