Hi everyone: Back from my week of R&R: Here is the summary of the first four chapters of Romans. It is pretty simple: St. Paul is arguing that the human race is broken, flawed, sinful and unable to help itself. The Old Testament Law only serves to show us how broken we are and how impossible it is to lift ourselves above our depravity. St. Paul goes on to argue that no amount of human striving and effort can change this. It is not possible to make ourselves righteous in the eyes of God. It is only in faith (trust that fully depends on) in Christ that the human being can be transformed, elevated and redeemed. See the end of Chapter 4:22-25 "therefore his (Abraham) faith 'was reckoned to him as righteousness.' Now the words, 'it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, bur for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification."
To be justified before God is to stand before God "just as if I'd never sinned" that is completely forgiven for our past sins and free to live into anew life.