Day 8

Faith Upholds the Law

from the Romans reading plan

Romans 3:21-31, Ephesians 1:7-10, Colossians 1:13-14

BY Andrea Lucado

Scripture Reading: Romans 3:21-31, Ephesians 1:7-10, Colossians 1:13-14

I love a good “before and after.”

Whether it’s watching the last ten minutes of an episode of HGTV’s Fixer Upper or following a designer’s Instagram feed, I just can’t get enough of those visual transformations. Give me all the before-and-after shots of your kitchen, bathroom, closet—even your hair!—magically morphed from cluttered to clean. I never, ever tire of them.

Reading Romans 3:21-31 reminds me of my makeover obsession. These verses are all about our “after”—who we are because of God’s grace “by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (v.24). The power of this passage lies in its contrast to the one before it. What would an “after” photo be if we never saw the “before”?

A beautiful kitchen is a beautiful kitchen. But when we see that kitchen as it once was—dated tile, linoleum floors, and missing cabinet doors—compared to its transformed state of marble countertops and hardwood floors, we appreciate its newness and beauty that much more.

So let’s back up to Romans 3:20, our “before” shot that says, “For no one will be justified in his sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.” That’s bad news for us. It means all the good stuff we did last week, all the good deeds and hard work—it’s all meaningless in itself.


But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets. The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
– Romans 3:21-22

This, friends, is the good news! No, we are not justified by the law, but we are justified in Christ.

God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.
– Romans 3:25-26

Now, imagine knowing this good news with no understanding of the bad news that preceded it. Imagine seeing the “after” without seeing the “before.” It wouldn’t really be good news then, would it? In light of the bad news, the promise found in verses 25-26 is that much brighter, more hopeful. The contrast is everything.

Our before is not a pretty picture. It is devoid of God and, therefore, full of despair. As Paul quoted the Hebrew scriptures, “all have turned away…ruin and wretchedness are in their paths” (Romans 3:12,16).


This passage today is our after. The ones who have faith in Jesus are righteous. Not the ones who do the most, achieve the most, or follow the letter of the law the best. Unlike those HGTV makeovers, it’s not the amount of work we put in that brings us from before to after; it’s Christ’s work on the cross that transforms us. He, and He alone, declares us righteous before the one true God.

Perhaps this is why I love seeing visual transformations so much. They help me to remember the gospel’s redemption in my own life. It’s a reminder I desperately need to hear, over and over again. It was not our blood, sweat, and tears that brought us back into relationship with God. It was His.

We are forever grateful, Jesus.


Andrea Lucado is a freelance writer, Texas native, and the author of the memoir English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith. When she is not conducting interviews or writing stories, you can find Andrea laughing with friends at a coffee shop or creating yet another nearly edible baking creation in her kitchen. One of these days she’ll get the recipe right.

Post Comments (93)

93 thoughts on "Faith Upholds the Law"

  1. Elizabeth Dawson says:

    As someone, who’s personality encourages her to run hard, fast, and far on her own merits, the freedom in these passages is wonderful!

    I’ve always known that it’s by faith in Jesus that we have our righteousness and right-standing in God, but somehow, I still struggle with the concept of not having to “do”, “prove”, or “be” anything but faithful in Christ and faithful to Christ!

    In this season, taking time to review the basics of Christianity in Romans, is bringing me such clarity of yes, my own shortcomings, but also the places in me that so desperately need to accept the freedom and liberation that comes from God’s Holy Spirit. We can become so bound up in senses of duty or achievement, but all we’re asked to do is come as we are, in full faith that Jesus IS Lord.

  2. Colleen Michelle says:

    The analogy of the before and after makes so much sense to me. Sometimes I can’t see the modern understandingbut that makes sense.

  3. Steph C says:

    “For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (3:28). So, so thankful that my redemption is based on faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, not on my own works of “righteousness”. Night and day. Before and after. His sacrifice has transformed me. It’s not about me pulling myself up by my bootstraps and fixing my life. It’s not about me obeying a checklist of good deeds. It’s all about me submitting my heart and will to God and Him changing me into His likeness. He has done everything.

  4. Jaz Scurry says:

    I have really really been enjoying this Romans study plan! I love the teachings of Paul and to get a simple breakdown of each passage has been blessing me!

  5. Rose Braga says:

    One God

  6. YZ says:

    I have just started this series and I’m currently struggling to show my friend how our before looks like.. It is indeed so difficult to show that the after is good news when she doesn’t think that we were all sinners and need God!

  7. Shari says:

    The world (aka the enemy) knows our name but calls us by our sin (reminds us who we used to be)…. God knows our sin but calls us by our name (reminds us we are His daughters, His Heirs, we wear many crowns, we have His authority…)!

  8. Joyce says:

    I’ve had people say to me, “I don’t need to go to church and do all that studying of the Bible because I always do good stuff and lead a good honest life.” I tell them, it’s not alllll about you and what you’ve done, but about what God has done and his love for you. Good deeds get you a pat on the back. Having faith in God gets you a seat at his feet in heaven!!!

    1. Shari says:

      Amen, Joyce! AMEN!

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