With Advent on the mind, I read these words:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 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. 26 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.Also, encouraging, though, were the notes from the Gospel Transformation Bible:
If previous verses might lead to despair, Paul now sets forth grounds for rejoicing. What Abraham set his hope on by faith, so that God granted him a righteous standing (Gen. 15:6), Jesus Christ has accomplished “for all who believe” the gospel promise as Abraham did (Rom. 3:22). Yes, the sinful human condition is universal and terminal (v. 23). But believers “are justified” by God’s “grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 24). The term “redemption” suggests a picture of slaves being purchased and freed. God sent his Son to be a “propitiation”: he satisfied the demands of God’s wrath by his death on the cross in the place of sinners. When he “passed over former sins” (v.25) prior to Jesus’ coming, God did not merely dismiss the charges against the guilty. Rather, God’s righteous demands were met in Jesus’ death. God proved to be “just” in not overlooking sin, and he also freely chose to act as “justifier” for “the one who has faith in Jesus” (v.26).
Our hearts are moved as we marvel at the wisdom of God in providing a righteous way of rescue for guilty sinners that does not in any way compromise his justice and holiness. We marvel, too, at God’s great love in sending his own Son to accomplish this salvation.