This morning we move into Romans chapter 3
Just by way of review, I want to remind you that in the first two chapters Paul as been addressing three types of people.
The first was the “depraved.”
This is a person who said, “There is no God” they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.
This exchange only led to depravity…to a debased mind.
The second type of person we looked at was the “critical moralizer.”
These kinds of people are real good at pointing out everyone else’s faults, but are completely blind to their own.
And the Last two-weeks we looked at the third kind of person; they were Paul’s own Jewish people.
Paul focused in on their wrong belief that somehow their cultural heritage was a guarantee of God’s favor.
They looked to external activities instead of matters of the heart.
Remember the heart is the very center of our being, the core of who we are.
They thought that just because they went through the physical act of circumcision,
they were somehow “good to go” with God.
When in essences they were looking to circumcision as some kind of good luck charm.
They completely missed the point that God was concerned with the condition of their heart…
“Circumcision of the heart” was what mattered most to God.
And it’s at this point Paul’s Jewish readers may hear Paul saying,
“Their special privileges as God’s own chosen people were now revoked.”
Remember, Paul has been preaching now for 20 years.
He has fine-tuned his message…he knew just when and what kind of objections would come up.
In fact, if Paul were saying these things in person, there’s no doubt in my mind someone would have stood up and object to what Paul was saying.
Remember, Paul wasn’t beaten, flogged, imprisoned, and run out of town, because he was tickling peoples ears…
Paul’s Gospel was jarring; it rocked their world.
What Paul is saying up to this point is this: “All people, of all types, need the gospel.”
It’s at this point that some objections are raised.
Here in Romans 3:1-8 Paul shares four objections with us.
When you first read this it can be tricky… you can loose track of who’s asking the questions and who’s responding.
So I think it’s really helpful to remember that Paul is having a dialogue between himself and an imaginary person.
Don’t think this is weird or anything like that…
You and I do it all the time… just think back to the last time you returned an item to the store… how many times have you ran the conversation through your mind?
You might think this is crazy, but it helps me to think of it as an episode of Law and Order.
Paul the prosecutor is laying out his case before the jury and he has just made a devastating blow, and then the defendant’s lawyer jumps to his feet and interjects with his objections.
I want you to keep that thought in your mind and let’s work through these objections and responses.
Listen as I read our Passage:
“1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: ‘So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.’ 5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases His glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’ 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—‘Let us do evil that good may result?’ Their condemnation is just!”
Our First Objection is:
1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?
It’s as though the objector is saying, “Paul, you’re undermining God’s covenant!”
“Come on Paul, If it is being a Jew inwardly that counts, if it is the ‘circumcision of the heart’ that matters, then is there any advantage in belonging to the Jewish nation or in being physically circumcised?”
This would have been a natural response to what Paul had been saying.
And as we read through Romans at this point we’d expected him to say something like…
“That’s right, there is no advantage for you bunch of losers!”
But this isn’t what he said… instead he said: There is great advantage!
2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.
Yes, there was great value, but the value was different from what they had been thinking. It was a value of responsibility rather than security.
They had great privilege because they were the overseers, the custodians, of God’s special revelation;
They were entrusted with the very Words of God’s.
Paul wanted them to know that these privileges didn’t make them any better than anyone else.
No, In fact, it made them even more responsible to live up to God’s requirements.
Rather than focus on their responsibilities, they shifted their attention inward on themselves. They took pride in their privileged position; they missed God’s concern for the heart… Paul says this is wrong.
Let’s look at the next objection:
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?”
Here the objector is basically saying:
“Okay, I’ll grant you that not all Jews believed.”
“So are you saying that God would go back on His promises?”
“Come on Paul, don’t you know that it was God who chose Israel as His people and made a covenant with them?”
“So, could the unbelief of some cause God to break His promise?”
Paul’s response was to forcefully say, “Not at all!”
Today we might say something like, “Are you crazy! …That’s insane.”
4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: ‘So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.’”
Basically, Paul’s point was this: “Whenever there is a question whether God or man is right, always proceed on the basis that God is right and every man is a liar.”
Paul reminds his readers of what David wrote in Psalm 51:4 about his sin of adultery and murder.
God is faithful to his Word, and His Word includes His commitment not only to bless His people but also to punish them for their sin.
In God’s covenant, there were blessings and cursing’s.
“Do this, and blessing will follow. Do that, and cursing will follow…”
The truth is, God will never break His covenant.
This is good news for us! There is great hope for us in this truth Paul shares here.
As we study God’s Word, you’ll notice that a patter emerges.
We learn that God never changes and never lies (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29).
God has never failed (Isaiah 51:6).
We can trust in His proven character.
We can trust that God will be true to Himself.
He will never cease acting like God.
He will never cease being sovereign, being holy, or being good (1 Timothy 6:15; 1 Peter 1:16).
This is why Paul replies so forcibly to those who would question God’s faithfulness.
God is Faithful!
But our objector is persistent!
Think of someone you’ve argued with. Before you’ve finished making your point, you can see in their body language that they have already formulated another question and it is right on the tip of their tongue.
I think that’s what was happening here, but Paul beat them to the punch and asked their question:
5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?”
Remember that Paul has been preaching for more than 20 years….
He knew at this point of his argument people would ask, “If that’s the case Paul, why does God condemn us?
If our unrighteousness causes the righteousness of God to shine more gloriously, how can God bring His wrath?”
Paul was almost embarrassed to bring this argument up, so he made clear to us that he was using a secular argument.
Paul wants us to know this argument is unworthy of serious consideration.
Because, if there were any possibility of God being unrighteous, then how could He be fit to judge the world?
This reasoning is ludicrous.
God will judge the world, that’s a fact (see Gen. 18: 25). And He is right in judging it.
God cannot overlook sin, even when it becomes the occasion for a greater display of His mercy and glory.
But our objector is still not satisfied with Paul’s responses.
The last objection is found in verse 7…
The argument goes like this:
7 Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases His glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’
He’s arguing that it’s unfair for God to condemn Jews for acts that enhance His glory.
Paul responds with a counter question intended to show the ridiculousness of such an objection:
8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—‘Let us do evil that good may result?’ Their condemnation is just!”
It would be crazy to think that any act is justified so long as it brings good in the end?
But as crazy as it sounds, there is this impression out there that this is what followers of Christ think.
I’m sure you’ve heard this same kind of “license to sin” argument before. It is a false argument.
But yet it is one that is leveled against the gospel of God’s grace.
It goes something like this, “If you could be saved just by faith in Christ, then you could go out and live in sin…
…Since God’s grace abounds over man’s sin, then the more you sin, the more His grace abounds.”
To this line of thinking Paul says: “Their condemnation is just!”
The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
Remember Ephesians 2:8-10,
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Did you catch that…“to do good works,” not “to live in sin.”
So does this mean that a Christian can live any way he wants? No!
James tells us that faith without works is dead.
The believer does not have a license to sin!
It’s just the opposite; we were made for good works.
In fact, the believer’s lifestyle should be evidence of their salvation.
We’re to live a life that demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians chapter 5.
We’re to conform to the likeness of Christ.
If we are truly believers in Christ, then we can’t live in sin anymore (John 3:6-9).
You see…we were saved to serve!
So what do we do with these objections we see in these eight verses?
Let me give you three conclusions and then a couple of applications.
- Know that God is faithful even when we’re not.
Every one of us stands guilty before God. No one will be exempt from God’s judgment on sin.
We can shake our fist at God, but until we come to the realization that we alone are sinful and condemned before God, there is really no hope for us.
Our hope can’t be found in rituals or spiritual activities no matter how religious and symbolic they seem.
No, the basis of our hope is found in Jesus!
He’s the one we are to place our hope in. He alone offers us eternal life.
We can’t earn it; all we can do is accept it as a gift from God. This is the good news of the gospel.
- Because of our relationship with Christ, we have great privilege and responsibility.
It’s easy to understand how some of the Jews had lost sight of the responsibility they had.
And if we’re not careful, we can just as easily make the same mistake.
It happens when we start to just go through the motions in our walk with Christ.
If we’re not careful, things that work to help us grow—things like bible reading, scripture memorization, devotions and so on—over time become something you’ve just “got” to do, instead of something you “get” to do.
We can’t let this happen to us…we’ve got to keep the Gospel fresh in our mind.
We’ve got to be on guard against letting our relationship with Christ become something we “just do.”
We never want to get to the point where we’re just putting in time.
Realize that we have been given a trust…and it’s the Gospel!
The Gospel’s message sets us free from sin and it’s a massage that we need to share with others.
We can never lose sight of this great privilege we have.
Because of the Gospel there is reason and purpose in all that we do.
- No matter what we’re going through…know that God can be trusted… Remember He is faithful!
The main reason we should trust God is that He is worthy of our trust.
He is not like us… He never lies and never fails to fulfill His promises.
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 89:34).
He alone has the power to bring to pass what He plans and purposes to do.
Isaiah 14:24 tells us,
“The LORD Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.’”
You and I can be confident of this: His plans are perfect, holy, and righteous, and He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His holy purpose (Romans 8:28).
If we strive to know God through His Word, we’ll find that He is worthy of our trust,
and our trust in Him will grow daily.
To know Him is to trust Him…we can’t trust someone we don’t know.
You see, “to know Him” that is the secret of learning to trust God.
Trusting Him naturally follows when we understand why we should.
This is the point Paul has been driving home in the opening chapters of Romans.
So today our application is this:
- Be on guard against anything that can give us a false sense of security.
Remember our security is found in Christ alone, nothing else.
Over the last few weeks we’ve seen all sorts of ways people can have a misplaced confidence
about their relationship with God.
This isn’t something we want to get wrong; it’s a matter of life and death.
We need to put our hope in Christ alone, He is our solid foundation that Matthew 7:24-27 tells us about.
Remember when Jesus said:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock…”
To stand firm on a solid foundation means that we become people who are hearing and responding, disciples of Christ, not a phony superficial one.
Build your life on Christ.
- Stand firm on God’s promises
A huge promise is found in Romans 8:1-2:
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
That’s a promise for us who’ve placed our trusted in Christ as our Savior.
Does it mean that we’re going to be sinless and free from worldly troubles? No.
The fact is…we’re all going to stumble at times.
But ultimately even our failures do not diminish God’s faithfulness to us.
Remember, perfection is not the goal, but it’s the direction of our life of our life that matters.
Make sure your life is pointing in Christ’s direction.
How do we do that?
Confession… When we mess up, we fess up and we move on.
1 John 1:9 says:
“But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
We’re not, “In when we don’t sin” and “out when we do.” Remember, Christ has set you free from sin and death.
Remember that nothing can separate us from God… Nothing!
But there is something that can break our fellowship with Christ and it’s called sin.
Don’t let your sin break that fellowship…
Know that Christ wants you to come to Him just as you are… He doesn’t want you to cleanup before you come;
He doesn’t require a certain amount of penance from you; He just want’s you to stop and turn back to Him.
When we confess, we’re offering our heart, the very core of our being, to God.
The Result of confession is freedom!
Lets Pray… Would you offer your heart to God today?