Now it remains to be seen how God receives us into his favor by means of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what St. Paul means by adding that “in him we have redemption through his blood, that is to say, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Here we are first of all given to understand that the enmity which God bears us is not with respect to our nature, but with respect to our corruption. I say it is not with respect to nature because, since God has created us, it is certain that he cannot hate us. But since mankind is utterly corrupted and given over to all evil, God must be a mortal enemy to us and an adversary against us, until the remembrance of our sins is buried out of his sight. For we are worthy of eternal death until we are restored again, because God, being the fountain of all justice and righteousness, must detest the evil that he sees in us. Therefore, until our sins are blotted out, it is impossible for us to hope that God should either favor or love us.
But let us notice here how St. Paul uses two words to express how we are reconciled to God. First, he sets down the ransom or redemption, which amounts to the same thing, and afterwards he sets down the forgiveness of sins. How then does it come about that Godâ€™s wrath is pacified, that we are made at one with him, and that he even acknowledges us as his children? It is by the pardoning of our sins, says St. Paul. And furthermore, because pardon necessitates redemption, he yokes the two together. The truth is that with respect to us, God blotted out our sins according to his own free goodness and shows himself altogether bountiful, and does not look for any payment for it at our hands. And, in fact, what man is able to make satisfaction for the least fault that he has committed? If every one of us, therefore, should employ his whole life in making satisfaction for any one fault alone, and by that means seek to win favor at Godâ€™s hand, it is certain that such a thing surpasses all our abilities. And therefore God must necessarily receive us to mercy without looking for any recompense or satisfaction at our hands. . . .
The whole life of our Lord Jesus Christ has become our ransom, for the obedience which he yielded in this world to God his Father was to make amends for Adamâ€™s offence and for all the iniquities for which we are in debt. But St. Paul speaks here expressly of his blood, because we are obliged to resort to his death and passion as to the sacrifice which has power to blot out our sins. And for that reason God has set forth in types under the law that men could not be reconciled to him except by that means.
Now it is true that Jesus Christ not only shed his blood in his death, but also experienced the fears and terrors which ought to have rested on us. But St Paul here under one particular comprehends the whole, in the manner common to Holy Scripture. In short, let us learn to find all our righteousness in Godâ€™s showing himself merciful towards us of his own free goodness. Let us not presume to put before him any virtue of our own to put him in our debt, but let it be sufficient for us that he receives us freely into his love without any worthiness on our part, but only because the remembrance of our sins is buried out of his sight. And again, let us understand that the same cannot be done but by the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is where we must wholly rest.