Archive for June 26th, 2019

Romans 3:5-8

In Romans 3:5-8 Paul continues to explain life to the Jewish leaders of that day. They wanted to claim salvation based on their heritage, but Paul says that isn’t how it works. Paul was familiar with the line of thinking that says, “God is in control of everything. Even my evil will ultimately demonstrate His righteousness. Therefore God is unjust if He inflicts His wrath on me, because I’m just a pawn in His hand.” “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.)” The leaders were looking for a way to excuse themselves from having to be held accountable to God’s law.

But Paul says that’s not how it will go down. Paul dismisses the question of these leaders easily. If things were such they suggested, then God could judge no one. “By no means! For then how could God judge the world?” Scripture is clear that God will judge each of us. When we die, we’ll stand before a holy and just God and face Him needing to account for our life and the choices we made. What will be obvious is our sin, and that will preclude us from entering heaven on our own merits. But if we’ve received His answer for our sin, the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross, we’ll approach His judgment covered by the blood of the Lamb and God won’t even see our sin, just Christ’s righteousness covering our sin.

Paul re-states the objection of his questioners: “If God will glorify Himself through my lie, how can He judge me, since I seem to indirectly increase His glory?” This was a perversion of Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith. “But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?” If you take this thinking far enough, you end up saying, “Let’s sin as much as we can so God can be glorified even more.” This shows us that one way to examine a teaching is to extend its meaning and consequences and see where you end up. In this case, you end up with the enemies lies. How we live does matter, and someday we will stand before a righteous God condemned by our sin without the blood of Jesus to cover them through faith.

If we find ourselves accused of preaching a gospel that is “too open” and too centered on faith and grace and God’s work then we find ourselves in good company with Paul. But that grace and freedom does not excuse how we act. God rightly condemns anyone who teaches that we have a license to live in sin. “And why not do evil that good may come?–as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.” Twisting the glorious free gift of God in Jesus into a supposed license to sin is perhaps the peak of man’s evil ways. It takes the most beautiful gift of God and perverts it and mocks it. This twisting is so sinful Paul saves it for last, because it is beyond the depravity of the pagan, beyond the hypocrisy of the moralist, and beyond the false confidence of the Jew.

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