3:26to show his righteousness. God’s judicial righteousness is demonstrated in the gospel. Under the Mosaic sacrificial system, forgiveness was offered through (but not on the basis of) animal sacrifice. As the New Testament recognizes (Heb. 9:11–15; 10:1–4), such sacrifices cannot substitute for the sins of humans. The real significance of the Old Testament sacrifices lay in the way they pointed forward to Christ through whom God would deal with human sin in an appropriate and final way. In view of what He would later do, God could righteously pass over “former sins” (v. 25). The work of Christ reveals both the justice of God (He does punish sin in the Person of His own Son, 8:32), and the righteousness of God’s way of salvation by “faith in Jesus” (v. 26). In dealing with Christ as sin-bearer and the human person as sinner, God does not compromise His own holiness, nor the necessity of sin’s being atoned for. Yet He graciously provides a salvation that mankind was incapable of obtaining. In this respect, Paul sees the Cross as the manifestation of the glorious wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23, 24).
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