Romans 3:25-26: How can a Holy God forgive sins?
I want to begin by asking a theological question, that given our present day concerns you probably wouldn’t ask but is a central question to the Bible. How can a Holy God forgive sins? Given our present day man centred approach to life the question is usually reversed, ‘How can God not forgive sins?’ Our question concerns itself with the morality of forgiveness, a central concern in the Bible. For example, in Proverbs 17:15 it says, ‘He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.’ So the Bible condemns the action of justifying that is declaring righteous those who are in fact guilty. And then Paul goes on to tell us in Romans 4:5, ‘And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.’ Here we are told that God justifies the wicked/ungodly. How can a God who is just by nature, holy by nature and righteous by nature justify wicked people? Is this a double standard from God that He can be a bad judge but we cannot? I trust that you see the importance of this issue. The reason it is so central to the heart of biblical thinking is because it is concerned with the glory of God, and manifesting His divine glory to the world that God in all His glory might be praised. The Bible is often concerned with ‘the vindication of God;’ the demonstration of God as perfectly holy, just, truthful and righteous. Romans 3:25-26 is Paul’s attempt to vindicate God’s action of forgiving sinners while not violating His own holiness and justice. Paul is zealous for the honour of God and so explains how it is that God is able to be just and yet still declare guilty sinners righteous. Getting at the heart of this question we will be looking at the ideas of propitiation, blood, and God as Just and the Justifier.