When someone is going to deliver a difficult message, they’ll sometimes ask you: Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? The word gospel comes from a Greek word that means good news. It was a technical term for a message of victory. But first, Paul delivers what some might consider bad news.
Paul explains that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (v. 23). It makes no difference if you are Jewish or Gentile, devout, or irreligious. We are all sinners and without excuse. There is more to this than merely recognizing that we are not God. Not only have we disobeyed God when Adam sinned, but with that act, humanity fundamentally changed. Sin affects every aspect of our human character. No part of our nature is left untouched by sin. As bad as this news may be, the universality of sin opens the door for good news. Since all have sinned, we all may experience redemption by grace through Jesus Christ (v. 24). God can offer this gift without compromising His standard of righteousness because “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement” (v. 25).
Atonement is the same word used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to refer to the mercy-seat, the gold covering on the Ark of the Covenant, where the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled (Lev. 16:14). Such language indicates that Jesus’ death was a propitiation or sacrifice for sin. By sending Jesus to die on our behalf, the Father was able to offer the grace of forgiveness freely without compromising His standard. He was able to “be just” (righteous) and “the one who justifies” (vindicates or declares righteous) at the same time (v. 26).
>> The bad news is that our sinfulness means we have no reason to boast before God. The good news is that we can receive righteousness through Jesus Christ. His sacrifice on our behalf does not set aside God’s law, it upholds it. Only Jesus can make you right with God.