Paul has sent this letter to Rome to encourage the Romans. In this chapter of the letter he anticipates some of the questions that they may have been asking based on the first 2 chapters. It seems to me that he realizes that some of what he has said may be going over their heads so to speak or confusing them. The Jewish people knew they were God’s chosen people. They were the ones who had been given the law and the rituals to keep and had handed down for generations these practices and rituals. They had some beautiful traditions that in their minds justified them and made them feel closer to God. Paul is preaching to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles and in so doing some of the Jewish people may have been feeling a little torn. Because they were used to the traditions and they were used to the rituals but is Paul saying that none of that is important anymore. “By no means!” Paul points out that the faithfulness of God is not based on our faithfulness nor our faithlessness.
“By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar…” Romans 3:4
This is such a comfort to me. God is true whether I am living in my faith or struggling in my faith. No matter what is going on in the world or around me. No matter if there is a Coronavirus, or people who do right or don’t do right. God is true!
Paul also seems to be pointing out that when unrighteousness abounds that God’s righteousness is magnified. However he also addresses in this that there are some people who might actually try to use that as a means to excuse their own unrighteousness. They, in their thinking may be saying God would be unrighteous to inflict His wrath on us since our unrighteousness shows His righteousness. Again,
“By no means! For then how could God judge the world?” Romans 3:6
We talked a bit about God’s judgment yesterday and I mentioned that I would much rather fall under God’s judgment than mans. God judges rightly and He is always compassionate, fair and true. One day we will all fall under God’s judgment. We must always be careful not to twist the grace that God gives so freely as a license to sin or to remain the same. Yes God’s righteousness and God’s grace is a free gift to us but the point is to make us better, not to justify us because “I am who I am”.
The second part of this chapter points out to us that “None are righteous”. What I think and what I glean from reading in several translations and commentary is this. The law was given to the Jewish people and they thought that their possession of the law is what justified them. Paul is pointing out that they are not righteous because of the law, nor are the Gentiles righteous because they don’t have the law (nor the traditions) as their gauge. The law was given to point out sins. It is a measure to use. Verses 10 – 17 show man’s depravity and the many ways that man sins against God. But it is all men, not just the Jew, not just the Gentile, but all men! But also just being a good person and keeping the law will not justify you.
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20
We can’t keep enough rules and regulations to make us right in Him. But there is good news here in the latter part of this chapter.
God gave us the law and He gave us the prophets in order to bear witness to sin. But God gave us His righteousness through Jesus that through our faith in Him there is no distinction anymore.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)
I have known verse 23 for years and have had it memorized and have quoted it, but why oh why have have I not been quoting the whole thought? Yes we all sin and yes we all fall short of his glory but oh how exciting that we are justified by his grace. If you believe in Jesus He has redeemed you! Already! Jesus came to be the propitiation of our sin, by his blood. That word, propitiation just means substitute sacrifice. He was our sacrifice, through His blood on the cross we can have faith. This was to show God’s righteousness and it is to be our justifier if we have faith in Jesus. God is the God of Jews and the God of Gentiles.
“since God is one – who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary we uphold the law. (Romans 3:30-31)
Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you for sending Jesus to be my substitute sacrifice for my sins. Thank you Lord for your grace. Lord, help me to uphold the law through the faith I have in you and by the grace you have so freely given.