Romans 3 opened with this statement, “then what’s the advantage of being a Jew?” To the Jew-hating racist, this rant is a part of their bye-laws.
It is obvious that chapter three opens in the middle of a conversation and I can see the need to find out what the conversation is. As chapter two comes to an end, we come to understand that the Jews received the law. Most perceive the law as an ominous thing, but if you take this train of thought back to the original ten commandments it boils down to this, love God, love on people, and do the right thing. Loving on people doesn’t seem all that ominous.
Did you ever wonder why God felt the need to “oppress” these people He just rescued out of Egypt with what eventually became over 600 laws?
First, it was the Jewish religion that came up with a vast number of laws. Secondly, in trying to explain why I think God had to quickly bring the hammer down on these people, I will be polite and say perhaps it is oppressive because anyone who reads attentively about this event in Exodus, which parallels with Stephen’s testimony before the Jewish council, as seen in the book of Acts, you can come to the conclusion that the greatest majority of them were effectively Egyptians and had NO understanding or faith in God.
If you read my last post on Romans 3, then you also know that they were not Jews. The entirety of the story which includes the birth of Moses leaves me scratching my head as I try to figure out how Moses’ birth mother was able to hold to the oral heritage, that at minimum went back to Jacob and his twelve sons. When I read through the chain of events that brought Jacob and the family into Egypt, it almost seems as though God dissipated into the background.
Assuming that you struggle with what I just said, consider the generations of your own family, where the great grandparents may have held tightly to the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and yet just a couple of generations later the God of my grandparents is rarely mentioned unless it is used as a curse against another human. If it weren’t for God reintroducing Himself to Moses, we might not be having these discussions.
That being said, does being the proud owners of the law, capable of reciting so much of it, make you righteous?
No, it does not. Paul tells us that it is the doers of the law that are right with God; and, what a great mystery, like the Gentiles, who may not have been privy to these laws, still seem to obey those laws. At this point, we call this a moral standard and many of the Gentile world is living by it. Paul tells us this happens because God has written this moral standard – laws, upon the heart of every human.
How did this happen?
We are, every one of us, created in God’s image [This is the point at which many of you should start spitting on yourself as you try to disown and separate yourself from the God you claim to hate.]; and God’s image – His nature or character if you will, has that moral standard built-in. It is who He is. Wow, no wonder, even with all the evil you have done, Satan has been trying to kill you. You look like a child of God and you didn’t even know it.
With that let’s continue with Romans 3.
Romans 3:9 NLT 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.
Notice that Paul’s focus is upon the Jewish reader who has accepted Jesus Christ as the longed-for Messiah. Just the fact that these brothers can claim Jewish heritage, for most, gives them a sense of pride and righteousness. [My Jewish heritage dissipates into the background because it comes through my grandfather, and for some reason, which I don’t understand, disavows me as a Jew.] Having excoriated this church body, and by extension the global community of Jewish believers, you are NOT gaining an advantage merely because you hold to laws.
Dare I say, just because Paul tore into them, then I get to be elevated because I too am a believer and have faith in Jesus?
Paul says, NO, NOT AT ALL, because we are all under the power of sin. I have actually sat in church long enough to get the impression that merely because I came to Jesus all of my nasty habits and the trail of carnage I created just goes away.
Are you kidding me, what did Paul just say?
“all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.”
Like I have mentioned in previous posts, people in Recovery, even if it has been 15 plus years, know that the sin that so easily besets them is lurking out there waiting to lure them back into captivity.
Romans 3:10-18 NLT
(10) As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one.
(11) No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.
(12) All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
(13) “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.”
(14) “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
(15) “They rush to commit murder.
(16) Destruction and misery always follow them.
(17) They don’t know where to find peace.”
(18) “They have no fear of God at all.”
Well, that was discouraging and it is without hope. We will get there.
Romans 3:19-20 NLT 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. (20) 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.
So, we are all on the same playing field, and we are all sinful.
Romans 3:21 NLT 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.
Without the keeping of the law?
Hold up a minute. How did this law thing start? With ten commandments that told us to love God, people, and to act right. That never went away and besides, those commandments are a part of that moral fiber that speaks you constantly, whether you obey those laws or not.
So how do we get to be right in God’s eyes?
Romans 3:22-23 NLT 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. (23) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Oh, and by the way, “this is true for everyone who believes,” because everyone has sinned and, therefore, falls short of God’s standard.
Perhaps another way of looking at this is to see us all as being genetically damaged. This genetic damage is undetectable since it is a common marker throughout the DNA of all humanity; and, few will contemplate the idea that we got this damage from Adam and that he became damaged by eating that fruit. Many refuse to believe that our DNA can be damaged or modified by something we put into our bodies – this is happening as we speak through the global mRNA injections.
Our situation is really quite hopeless unless we have a savior, and we do – it is Jesus Christ, the one who put Himself on the cross for us. He paid the sin debt and made us acceptable in God’s sight. As Pastor JD Farag of Calvary Chapel Kaneohe, Hawaii, says, “But God.” God is always there and has a plan.
Romans 3:24-25 NLT Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (25) For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,
People have asked, why didn’t God just destroy Satan, throw away Adam and Eve – as they were obviously broken, and start over?
The answer is right there in the passage above, and it has everything to do with this moral character that makes Him who He is, a God that cannot lie – and you will find no untruth in Him. Genesis tells us that God gave Adam dominion over all the earth. You will rarely hear anyone tell you how extensive this dominion was. Adam’s eyes were wide open when he handed control of the earth to Satan. Satan, from that moment forward, had legal control over the earth, and Adam had sinned. By God’s law, the wages of sin was death, and no one has been able to escape that legal demand.
So God, through the legal process which has been there before time began though not so evident to the Gentiles, inserted His Son into the earth, free from the genetic alterations that embedded sin within us, and beat Satan at his own game by becoming the unblemished lamb, the sacrifice for sin; and, rose from the dead to be the high priest that poured His blood over us, freeing us from the debt that sin demanded.
We are now free to follow Jesus back to the Father. Of course, while we live on this earth, none of us are free from death, but we will be once we are in the presence of the Father, and it is this change that we see in 1 Corinthians 15:52 that makes that happen.
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:52
“ God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
Verse 25 states, “ For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.”
If you had not been walking through Romans like this, would you have understood that this is referring to Christ’s journey from the cross to the throne?
I am not sure I fully understand why, but occasionally I have to remind myself that the full journey, which was necessary for us, took Him into hell, and up to the throne room in heaven – the pattern for the one here on earth.(Hebrews speaks of this.)
Romans 3:26 NLT for he (God) was looking ahead and including them (The Gentiles) in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
In speaking to the Jews he says,
“Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.” Romans 3:27 NLT
Why would Paul feel a need to say something like this, unless it was common for the Jews to boast about how superior they were?
Who were they boasting to?
The Gentile believers who were a part of this combined body in Christ.
Romans 3:28 CJB “Therefore, we hold the view that a person comes to be considered righteous by God on the ground of trusting, which has nothing to do with legalistic observance of Torah commands.”
Doesn’t it make sense, based on the terminology in the verse above, that the context of this letter, has in part, the heart and actions of Jewish believers?
“Or is God the God of the Jews only?
Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles?
Yes, he is indeed the God of the Gentiles;” (Romans 3:29 CJB)
Even if it causes you to choke.
“because, as you will admit, God is one. Therefore, he will consider righteous the circumcised on the ground of trusting and the uncircumcised through that same trusting.”(Romans 3:30 CJB)
The terminology “God is one, was a Jewish understanding.
“GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies enthroned over the cherubim-angels, you are God, the only God there is, God of all kingdoms on earth. You made heaven and earth. (Isaiah 37:16 MSG)
And lastly, for those who think that grace removes all responsibility from their lives.
Romans 3:31 NLT “Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.”