Scripture Reading: Romans 3:19-24
But now! These two words, used together, always indicate a contrast between past and present. Something in the past has either been changed, or, put away forever. In Romans 3:21-22 we read, "But now a righteousness of God without (apart from ) the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even a righteousness which is by (through) faith of Jesus Christ unto (toward) all, and upon all that believe."
That God is righteous was no secret. The Old Testament declares this. "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Psalms 145:17). But that this very righteousness of God would, at some time be made available to men, was not known. "But now" this righteousness is revealed (unveiled) in the gospel (Paul's gospel) and nowhere else (Romans 1:17).
We seem sometimes so satisfied -- almost smug -- in our attitude, since God has imputed righteousness to us, that we forget that He has done for us vastly more than that.
If someone were to put a lot of money in a bank in my name, and refuse to let me have a check book, the money would be mine but what good would it do me? So in order that His righteous-ness may be manifested (put on display) in our lives, God has enabled us to appropriate it (Romans 5:1). Also, He has imparted His righteousness to us (Romans 5:17). And now, that righteousness must "reign" (be in control of our lives) (Romans 5:17; 6:18). All this is apart from law. The law never helped in our salvation. It cannot enable us to live godly lives.