Presentation on theme: "Romans 3:1-8 Surrounding context of Romans At the church in Rome, a Jew (or Jews) had come in and boasted about their keeping of the Old Testament Law,"— Presentation transcript:
Surrounding context of Romans
At the church in Rome, a Jew (or Jews) had come in and boasted about their keeping of the Old Testament Law, then attempted to convince the Christians that they also had to obey the Law. In Romans 2, Paul explains that no Jew can be saved by trying to obey the Law of Moses. In Romans 3, Paul puts forth a question – now that Christ has come and fulfilled the Law, is there any benefit to being an ethnic Jew at all?
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? (Romans 3:1-3)
Paul's explains that it is of great benefit to be ethnically Jewish, because it was to the Jews that the Holy Scriptures came. He then asks: if some Jews ended up being faithless, does their faithlessness does affect God's trustworthiness?
By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” (Romans 3:4)
God's trustworthiness is not affected by the faithlessness of the Jews. The Jewish God is still faithful, despite the unbelief of his distinct ethnic people. And even if everyone in the world was a liar, God would still be true. Even if there was no human in all of existence who knew and spoke the truth, God would not be any less true. His truth and goodness does not depend on the whims of created beings.
But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) (Romans 3:5)
Take note of Paul's peculiar statement in 3:5. “I speak in a human way.” We'll address this a little later.
Next, the tone changes a bit. Paul is now referencing the reality that God gets great glory by revealing his wrath over the unrighteousness that rejects the truth: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18)
Paul also points to a reality he'll analyze more deeply in Romans 9 - that God preordains all things, including human sin: though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! (Romans 9:11-14)
As God pours out wrath on the unrighteousness that suppresses the truth, his own righteousness is revealed. In light of this, Paul asks, “If human unrighteousness causes God to be glorified (Romans 1), and if this process is actually preordained by God (Romans 9), then isn't God unrighteous to pour out his wrath upon sinners? Is he unjust for punishing those that he, himself, has preordained to sin?”
Paul's answer: By no means! For then how could God judge the world? (Romans 3:6)
Paul says, “Of course God is not unjust for pouring out his wrath on the sin he's preordained! If he were unjust for doing that, there is no way he could bring judgment upon the entire world!” He argues that God is totally righteous in both preordaining sin and pouring out his full wrath on it. Next, Paul says this:
But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. (Romans 3:7-8)
“But wait a second,” Paul interjects. “If I suppress the truth of God by my unrighteousness (the lie), and ultimately God gets great glory from his wrath being poured out on me for that suppression – aren't I doing God a favor? Aren't I working to glorify him, in an abstract way? Without evil there can be no good, right? So doesn't my evil end up bringing glory to God?
Paul asserts that “some have slanderously charged [us] with saying” this, which means there were false teachers in the church at Rome who were accusing Paul and the other Apostles of teaching this bizarre doctrine: “Because God gets glory through punishing evil, people should therefore act evil so that God may be glorified in punishing them.” (Sinning that grace may abound)
This point of false doctrine was actually widespread in the early Church, and is addressed several times in the New Testament. The idea was that if the Jewish Law was fulfilled in Christ, and now humanity was under Grace (undeserved mercy), someone could therefore live a life of heinous sin, and, in so doing, glorify God. Why would it glorify God? Because if you sinned, and sinned, and sinned – but then prayed a prayer to Jesus for forgiveness, you would be forgiven – and God would be glorified for his grace toward you.
In the case of Romans, a Jew (or Jews) had crept into the church, and were trying to use this line of reasoning to discredit Paul and the Apostles' teaching. They were trying to convince the believers that they had to both accept Christ AND obey the Jewish Law if they were going to be saved. “Paul teaches that we should sin so that grace will increase!” They slanderously charged. “But the Old Testament teaches that only the righteous will enter the Kingdom of God!”
Paul addresses this issue more explicitly in Romans 5 & 6: Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21)
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)
Why couldn't the Jews accept the idea of free grace? Why did they insist that if God's grace through Jesus was free, it necessarily meant that this teaching would lead to people sinning as much as possible?
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:18-20)
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 21-24)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
The Good News of God's free grace to believers through Jesus' atoning death on the cross is a stumbling block to those with worldly wisdom. They simply cannot get their heads around the idea that God would make salvation available to anyone, with no basis on works. To the Jews, this grace was not in line with the Old Testament. In reality, though, human pride resists the Gospel, because it reveals there is nothing a human being can do to save him or herself from the wrath of God. According to the Gospel, grace is either free, or not at all.
Only God can save you – you cannot save yourself.
Take a step back. Let's think through the concept of sinning more and more in order for God to get glory by forgiving you more and more. Have you ever known someone who claimed to be a Christian, but lived in perpetual, heinous sin?
Often, if you confront a cultural Christian about their sin, they'll say something like, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), or, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye” (Matthew 7:5).
In a place like the Tenderloin, it seems like everybody thinks they're saved. I could ask someone dealing drugs on the corner, “Hey, are you a Christian?” And they might say, “Yeah, my whole life...” But then I might ask, “If you're a Christian, why are you selling crack and painkillers to these broken people who need rehabilitation, not drugs? Why don't you give them Jesus instead of death? You're exploiting drug addicts for your own selfish gain!”
To which the drug dealer might reply, “You don't know me! I'm covered by the blood! I'm covered by the blood! My sin is paid for! It is finished! Judge not! Take the log out of your eye, you hypocrite! You don't know me!” You ever known anyone like that? Someone who believes that Jesus' death on the cross is a license to sin without consequence? A “get out of hell free” card?
Do you believe that your sinning ends at the cross – or that it begins there?
Let me be very clear. If you claim to be a Christian, and yet refuse to give up your sins – you will not enter the Kingdom of God. You will go to hell, forever. This does not mean “losing your salvation.” It means you were never saved to begin with. A saved person is possessed by the Holy Spirit, and therefore cannot continue in perpetual, heinous sin without repenting. It's impossible.
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6)
No one who abides in [Jesus leads a life of perpetual, unrepentant sin]; no one who [lives that kind sinful life] has either seen [Jesus] or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you...Whoever makes a [lifestyle out] of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning... No one [who is born-again] makes a [lifestyle out] of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot [live a life of sin] because he has been born of God. (from John 3:6-9)
If you claim to be a Christian, and yet keep on choosing a lifestyle of sin without repenting, you are simply proving that you were never born- again by the Spirit of God. If you live in continual, unrepentant sin, you are not saved.
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:15-16)
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)
Now, check this out. Remember how I told you to take notice earlier about a particular statement in Romans 3:5? “I speak in a human way” (from Romans 3:5)
Watch what Paul says in Romans 6:19, after telling Christians that they are slaves to righteousness:
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. (from Romans 6:19)
“I speak in a human way” (3:5) “I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations.” (6:19) What is Paul getting at?
The answer can be found, again, in 1 Corinthians. Paul explains that Wisdom from God can only be discerned by those who have truly been born again:
For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11)
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)
In Romans, Paul has to explain these realities “in a human way” because he knows that many of the listeners are not born-again, and do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. He has to speak “in a human way” because only a human being would be arrogant and petty enough to question the righteousness of God. Even Satan, in all of his pomp and jealousy, would not be stupid enough to believe that the Jewish God was unjust. Such idiocy could only be believed by the race of men. Thus, Paul must speak in a human way.
Do you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you? Do you have the Mind of Christ? Do you love the Words of God – the things of God? Do you love what God loves, and hate what God hates?
Do you believe that you are born-again? If so, have you seen a remarkable positive transformation in your life since you first claimed to be a Christian? Over time, has sin dramatically decreased in your life? Has obedience increased?
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13)
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14-15)
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” - Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15)