“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” Romans 3:21-22 Finally, Paul has arrived at the solution. God revealed His righteousness in many ways before the full revelation of the gospel; His law, His judgment against sin, His appeals through the prophets, His blessing on the obedient. But in the gospel, a new kind of righteousness has been revealed. This is the righteousness that God had planned from the beginning. Under the Old Testament law, righteousness came by people behaving but under the gospel, righteousness comes by believing. The law itself reveals the righteousness of God, because the law is holy, and just and good. The law bore witness to this gospel righteousness even though it could not provide it. The entire Old Testament is witness to the salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament sacrifices, the prophecies, the types, and the great gospel Scriptures all bore witness to God’s righteousness, but it could not provide it for sinful humanity. Only Jesus Christ could do that. “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (Galatians 2:20) Faith is only as good as its object. All people trust something, if only themselves, but the Christian trusts Jesus Christ. Law righteousness is a reward for works. Gospel righteousness is a gift through faith and the grace of God. It is a personal, individual faith in Jesus […]
“Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” Romans 3:19-20 This is the indictment of the entire human race. We are sinners and we are condemned to the judgment of God. We are found guilty before the court of God. We have no excuse. The law or our good works will not keep us from facing God’s judgment. “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?” (Malachi 3:6-7) This is the problem that Paul is addressing. The people don’t think that they have left God. They have never realized that they are sinners without excuse. Paul condemns us all but the good news is that he does not leave us hanging with no solution for our problem with sin. “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all. “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (Malachi 4:1-2) God has not […]
“They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace.” “They have no fear of God at all.” Romans 3:15-18 Paul pictured the sinner’s feet. Just as his words are deceitful, so his ways are destructive. The Christians’ feet are shod with the gospel of peace. “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” (Ephesians 6:19) But the lost sinner brings death, destruction, and misery wherever he goes. These tragedies may not occur immediately, but they will come. The lost sinner is on a broad road that leads to destruction. “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) The sinner needs to repent, trust Jesus, get on the narrow road that leads to life. The sinner has no fear of God. “Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all.” (Psalm 36:1) The sinner has pride in himself and to walk with God we must be humble. “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7) There is not one drop of fear. There is no dread of the final judgment. There is no cringing at the thought of hell. If they truly feared God, they would be running to Jesus.
“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” Romans 3:13-14 Paul is emphasizing human speech, the tongue, lips and mouth. Jesus talks about the connection between words and character. “You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:34-37) The sinner is spiritually dead by nature. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” (Ephesians 2:1-3) Therefore only death can come out of our mouth. The condemned mouth can become a converted mouth and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. Our words are so important. Our words destroy or build up. Be careful about your words. Let Jesus speak the words of life through you.
“No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” Romans 3:11-12 Paul is presenting his evidence with quotes from the Old Testament. The reason Paul is quoting the Old Testament is twofold. This is not Paul’s opinion or thoughts, but those belonging to God alone. This is not the voice of social conscience or cultural morals. This is God’s own prosecution against mankind. This is God’s indisputable case against the human race. The second reason that Paul is using the Old Testament is to show that this prosecution is nothing new. This case was embedded in the Old Testament all along. What Paul is writing is simply an echo, or repetition of the case that has already been submitted by the Law and the prophets. “Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good! The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!” (Psalm 14:1-3) There is none of us that have done right, we are all human and we are totally lost. It is impossible for us to do good. Really, we are just not very smart. If we were smart, we would be seeking God and His righteousness. Paul is bringing witness, after witness, after witness to the stand. What we have in verses 10-18 is the signature passage in the entire Bible for total depravity of the fallen human condition. This is the supreme passage for the doctrine of total depravity.
“Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.” Romans 3:9-10 This is Paul’s summation for the first major section of Romans. This first section of Romans establishes the condemnation of the entire human race. The message of the wrath of God is critically important because there is no good news of our salvation until we first know the bad news of our condemnation. There is no understanding of the salvation that God has for us until we understand from what we are being saved. This is the case that Paul is presenting to us. It is an air tight case and there is no higher court that we can take our case to. The supreme judge and the deciding jury is God Himself. Paul is the prosecutor who is bringing God’s indictment. We must realize that we are under the power of sin. The human race has been under this power since Adam and Eve disobeyed God. To be under the power of sin means to be under the penalty of sin. It means being held captive under the power of sin. To be enslaved to and dominated by sin. Paul is maintaining that all people are under the tyranny, domination, and condemnation of sin. It is as if we are under the whole pile of sin, and we cannot escape from underneath it by our own efforts. I was once under this pile of sin and it had its power over me and I never realized this until God showed me my sinful nature. We must get to our bottom before we […]
“But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.) Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world? “But,” someone might still argue, “how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.” Romans 3:5-8 Paul is summing up his argument with the Jews, that the Jews are guilty before God just like the Gentiles. Paul raised three questions. What advantage is it to be a Jew? Paul’s answer, the possessing of the Word of God. Will the Jewish unbelief cancel out God’s faithfulness? Absolutely not, it will establish it. If our sin commends His righteousness, how can He judge us? We do not do evil that good may come of it. God judges the world righteously. It is true that God will use the unrighteousness of man to accomplish His work and bring praise to His name. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is a perfect example. Part of the way God glorifies Himself in man’s sin is by righteously judging that unrighteousness. For both Paul and his readers, it was a given that a judgment day was coming, when some will be acquitted and some will be condemned. He didn’t need to contest this point; it was simply understood in that culture. The problem was that many of the Jews of his day believed that God would condemn the Gentiles and save the Jews. Paul is making […]
“Then what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God. True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” Romans 3:1-4 Paul continues to write about the Jews. He is building his theme in the Book of Romans which is being right with God. The Book of Romans is a book that if we study it in prayer, we can see how God has been preparing for the coming of the Messiah. Paul carefully explained in Romans 2 that the possession of the law or circumcision will not save a Jewish person. If this is the case, then what is the advantage of being God’s chosen nation? Paul knows there are many advantages God gave to the Jewish people. He entrusted them with the oracles of God, which speaks of God’s written revelation before the time of Jesus. He gave the Jewish people His Word, and that is an indescribable gift. This was their prime privilege, that they were God’s library-keepers. Paul will later expand on the advantage of the Jewish people in Romans 9. Jewish unbelief does not make God wrong. The fact that the Jewish people as a whole had rejected the gospel did not mean that God’s faithfulness to them was in vain. It is no new thing, for there have always been some that did not accept the revelation of God. No matter if people […]
“For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.” Romans 2:28-29 Paul tells us that circumcision guarantees nothing. True religion is about a matter of the heart. It is about the inner man, not the outer man. It is not about how we look it is about how we act. To be sure, circumcision was a sign of membership in the covenant community of Israel, but it was only a sign. The true Jew is not one who is merely circumcised outwardly. It is about an inward circumcision of the heart. The circumcision Paul intends here is in keeping with the promise in Jeremiah. “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord. “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, […]
“The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God’s law. But if you don’t obey God’s law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. And if the Gentiles obey God’s law, won’t God declare them to be his own people? In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God’s law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God’s law but don’t obey it.” Romans 2:25-27 E Stanley Jones asked Gandhi how Christians could make Christianity naturalized in India, not a foreign thing…but a part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India’s uplift? What can you tell me to make this happen? Gandhi replied, “First, I would suggest that all of you Christians…must begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down. Third, emphasize love and make it your working force.” Gandhi also said that he had no problem with Jesus Christ, but he had a problem with Jesus’ followers. When I was first called to the ministry and started attending Bible College, all the students put a clergy sign on their cars. I would not put this on my car because at times I felt that I did not want to be a stumbling block to anyone. At times I do have some road rage when I am driving. It is not that I am ashamed of Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him; I just wanted to be sure that I was the Christian that Jesus wanted. I have matured over the years and I might put one on my car now. Hypocrisy in the church was my excuse for not going to church far too long. The Book of Romans is about being right with God and being right […]