This does not exclude our responsibility to work for the purpose of sanctification. Works are not for justification but for sanctification. Works do not save us, but they are essential for transformation! To put it bluntly, we have to practice being God; we have to learn to live as God lives. Is that not how one becomes proficient at something?
God shows in many places in the Bible that He is pleased with our obedience. Our works do not save us, but they please Him (see Hebrews 13:16; Colossians 3:20; I John 3:22; etc.). He is so happy when we work at sanctification because they assist in the transformation process.
Parents ought to understand this. We are pleased by the stumbling efforts of our child to please us. So is God! He looks on our motives, intentions, and the principles involved in what His child is doing. He does not just look at the quantity or the quality—He looks at us as His children, who are trying to imitate Him.
Sanctification is absolutely necessary to prove to God our righteous character and belief in Jesus Christ.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 9)
God can forbear with us because Jesus Christ came to this earth and died for all of us. If we repent and ask God forgiveness, then Christ's blood covers all of our sins. Justice has been done. The sin has been paid for by the blood of Christ. God can thus forbear with us and allow us to "get away" with our sins for a while, because if we repent, then Jesus Christ's blood covers our sins, and justice is done. A person died for those sins—our Creator, Jesus Christ.
But if we do not repent, what happens? We die, and the penalty is paid. So this is a kind of legal maneuver by God. His forbearance is allowed under His legal system because Jesus Christ's blood pays the penalty for our sins. He can be merciful and lenient for a while, and whether we repent, or whether we do not repent, justice is ultimately served because a death occurs—either Jesus' or ours. This is the legal basis for why He can be forbearing. He has already taken care of it, one way or the other.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Justification is not something that one earns by any kind of lawkeeping or good works, but God freely gives it to those who repent—turn from their sinful ways—and have faith in His Son's sacrifice.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Saved By Faith Alone?
We are justified through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is the payment for our sins, thus freeing us from sin's penalty, and at the same time, God accounts—or imputes—Christ's righteousness to us. The righteousness that enabled Him to be the perfect sacrifice is accounted as if it is ours! This then makes it possible for us to have access into the presence of the holy God.
But this does not do away with law. It establishes it! It places the law in its rightful position in our understanding of what God is working out in our lives.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 29)
One translation of this verse renders the last phrase, "sins that are past, through the forbearance of God," as "for the remission of sins during the time that He withheld His hand." Picture a father whose children are misbehaving, and he pulls back his hand to cuff them, yet he withholds it. This is what God means. He was ready to strike out at us because of our sins, but He withheld His hand during that time. It is as if He stopped Himself. He had every reason to strike out, but He did not, mercifully. It is a vivid picture. Any parent can relate to it.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 8): Ephesians 4 (E)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Romans 3:25: