Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”
Here we find another set of questions and answers…remember the diatribe we talked about several weeks ago? This is the same thing. At this point, Paul knew questions would be filling the minds of his Jewish readers. Rather than just keep going, he took time to answer the questions.
I don’t know about you, but it’s helpful for me to look at verses 27-31 as Paul’s introduction relating to the subject of justification; in particular, to justification by faith only. In these verses, Paul quickly touched on the basic points he wanted to make about faith before developing them at greater length with respect to Abraham. Paul was using these questions to develop his argument for justification through faith alone.
So why was Paul’s first question about boasting? I think there are two reasons:
First, remember that he was speaking to his Jewish audience…he knew what was going on in their minds because he was one of them before his conversion. He was proud of his heritage and his ability to toe-the-line. In Philippians 3:5, he even described himself as being from the “Tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; and as to the law, a Pharisee.” If anyone had reason to boast, it was Paul! He wanted to drive the point home that he already made in Romans 2:17 where he said that their “privileged position” didn’t give them reason to boast.
Second, Paul wanted everyone to know that boasting was the language of Humanity’s fallen self-centeredness. To speak of deeds, abilities, or characteristics in a manner showing pride or self-satisfaction is simply wrong. When I think of my own life, I have to admit that if there is even a smidgen of credit for any effort on my part, I’ll take credit for all of it. Again, it’s wrong and it’s boastful. I think this is the point Paul was making here. Paul wants our confidence to rest securely in Christ alone, nothing else.
In fact, Paul felt so strongly about this that he told us “boasting” is altogether “excluded.” I find it interesting that the word used for “excluded” means “to shut out”. I don’t know why, but when I hear this, I think of a door being forcibly slammed shut with a loud BOOM.
There is no room for boasting in our own efforts to earn God’s favor…it is a guaranteed fail.
Think about a time you’ve been around a person who is boastful. I think I’m safe in saying that most of us don’t like it. Why is that? To me personally, sometimes I think it is an affront to God. Yes, we may have giftings in certain areas of life, but how much of that did we really control? It’s not until I think about how much is truly out of my control that I get a more realistic picture of my situation. The deeper I look into what is out of my control, the more humbled I become. As a believer, it leads me to praising God and not to boasting in myself. Praising is the activity we justified believers ought to be doing because it will be what we’re doing throughout eternity.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible.