21 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.
There is a great scene in the movie City Slickers where Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, is alone with Curly, played by Jack Palance. Curly is giving Mitch some life advice.
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean [expletive].
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: That’s what you have to find out.
In one way Curly was right, there is truly only one thing that matters in this life from which all of life can be measured. Where he was wrong is that one thing cannot be discovered it must be revealed; which is the point that Paul is making in this passage.
You see the one thing all of humanity needs is the righteousness of God. Paul just spent almost three chapters explaining that we all lack any true righteousness of our own and then he begins verse 21 with the greatest words for us to hear – but now.
Our greatest need is righteousness, God greatest provision is his own righteousness. This righteousness comes to us apart from our law keeping; it comes to us as a gift that God freely bestows upon those who have responded to his calling in faith and repentance, to those who have placed their trust in Christ for salvation.
This is the “one thing” in this life you need for the life to come.