Sunday’s sermon at church was entitled Not Guilty! Pastor Kevin took a break from our series in 1 Corinthians and did a quick survey of the first few chapters of Romans. One of the things that struck me was the wonderful words, “But now”. Kevin was talking about the phrase as used in Romans 3:21:
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets—Romans 3:21 NKJV
But now was the segue from our sinful state prior to regeneration by the Holy Spirit as evidenced by the words in Romans 3:10-18 to our righteous position in Christ through faith (Romans 3:21-22).
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18 NKJV)
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; (Romans 3:21-22 NKJV)
Let’s take a look at a couple of other “but now” phrases in Romans:
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.—Romans 6:22 NKJV
Now we have been set free from the slavery of sin, and in exchange we have everlasting life.
But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.—Romans 7:6 NKJV
We were previously subject to the Law. The Law was a law of stone, but God has now written His Law upon our heart, in newness of the Spirit. To live according to the power of the Spirit. See Jeremiah 31:31-34.
But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.—Romans 7:17 NKJV
Previously we were slaves (in bondage) to sin. It was our master. But now the LORD Jesus Christ is our Master. If we have been regenerated (born-again), we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. When we sin, it is not the prior bondage of the unregenerate person. But the flesh we still exist in, flesh that is subject to our previous fallen nature. BUT NOW, we have access to power to not sin. That power is now available by calling upon the Holy Spirit for strength.
Praise God for the “But now” phrases Paul has written to us here, by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.