Romans 3 is such an incredible chapter in the Bible. In Romans 1-2, Paul presents the bad news. He is like a defense attorney presenting his case against humanity. The verdict is that we are all guilty. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But, wow, praise God for the “but” in verse 21. Paul turns the corner and gives us the good news! The Gospel is that we have all sinned, but Jesus paid the price for us. We can be right with God through the grace of Jesus! Let’s dive deep into this incredible chapter today, then let’s live it out every day in our life.
A Biblical Loophole?
At the beginning of chapter 3, Paul addresses an argument regarding man’s relationship with sin under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. Let’s start with verses 3 and 4 below:
What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 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.”
Paul asks his questions rhetorically, so that he can show what others have asked and then present his response. If some Jews were unfaithful, that does not nullify God’s faithfulness to all. Paul affirms that even as every human being may be a liar, God remains true. He then quotes from Psalm 51 to show that our God is proved right and shown to be good in all our shortcomings.
This is where the possibility of a sort of loophole comes into play. In verse 5, Paul rhetorically asks this question:
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.)
Some people in Paul’s time were attempting to argue that, since God receives glory when His righteousness is on display in contrast to our sin, human sin ultimately leads to a kind of good. They then would argue that, if that were the case, God would be unjust to bring wrath against those who sin, and since God is never unjust, He therefore must not have wrath when we sin.
Perhaps the ones making this argument were hoping they could go on living their own way, without regard for what God says is good. But Paul emphatically refuses and refutes this idea:
Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
To sin intentionally is against the will of God. God’s truthfulness and righteousness prevails over all things; yet, someone who truly loved God and cared about His glorification would not disobey Him to that end.
Our obedience to God brings Him glory more clearly, and it benefits our neighbor rather than harming him.
The Purpose of The Law
What is the purpose of the Law of the Bible? Some people in Paul’s time likely held onto the idea that the Law would separate the people who were righteous from those who were unrighteous.
But the Jews and the Gentile were alike because they all fell into sins similarly. Verse 20 reads:
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
This, then, is the main purpose of the Law. Not one person besides Jesus has been, or will ever be, innocent under the standards of all the Law. But instead, the Law makes it known to us how much we all fall short of God.
Righteousness Comes By Faith
Paul has made it clear that none will be declared righteous by their obedience to the law. While this was a way in theory, it is in reality not something that man can accomplish due to his sinful nature. There is, however, a beautiful alternative. Verses 21 and 22:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Reading through verse 24, we see that this applies to both the Jew and the Gentile; the sacrifice of atonement completed when Jesus’ blood was shed covers all who believe:
There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Paul goes on to explain that we are justified by our faith. (To be justified means it’s “just as if I’d never sinned” in God’s eyes.) He also explains that the Law is not nullified by the justification we receive in faith alone. It is in our faith that we strive to uphold the law, because of our love for our God, who gives us salvation despite our shortcomings.
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