Romans 2:12-3:20 August 19, 2001
Scripture Reading: "Since I Am In Christ - - -" by Neil Anderson
Paul's argument in 1:18-3:20 is intended to establish the reason why God has unleashed his saving power in the gospel.
Salvation for both Jew and Gentile is available only by doing good (2:6, 11, 13).
The power of sin prevents both Jew and Gentile from doing good (3:9-19).
Therefore: No one can be saved by doing good (3:20).
In the last message we said that Paul is leveling the playing field here in regard to our need for the gospel. We said that this is liberating to anyone who is new in our midst and struggling. But it is also liberating to the mature Christian because being alike under sin there is no pretense to maintain.
For the immature Christian: no pretense to assume.
For the mature Christian: no pretense to maintain.
And so Paul not only levels the field, he now proceeds to pat down the soil and pack it harder beneath our feet.
Illus.: Asphalt Paving Process
It is not complete until it has been made a useable road – the last part of the process is the steam roller to smooth and harden the surface.
It then becomes a highway to the gospel once we are prepared for it.
They have no excuse, but just in case someone might come up with some argument or another, Paul anticipates them – and obliterates them.
He is trying to raise our level of consciousness regarding the truth of the gospel and our need for it.
Those who have been Christians for a long time, perhaps like these in the Roman church, can get lulled away from what really brought them to Christ in the first place.
We can assume comfortable Christianity. In a sense, we can develop an increasing case of unconsciousness.
And Paul wants to shake us alive again.
God's wisdom in this through Paul is amazing since it would be but a few short years before intense persecution would break out in the empire and in Rome in particular.
Under intense persecution, our absolute remembrance of the full truth of the gospel is paramount.
His frontal assault will prove to be necessary to bring them through it. It would also be very hard to come through it without having peace between the Jews and the Gentiles in the church.
Paul wrote Romans in AD 57 and Nero began his persecution in AD 64.
Claudius had expelled the Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2, Rom. 16:3) at least from AD 51-54.
So when Paul wrote this the church was probably in upheaval due to the Jewish Christians coming back into the church that for awhile at least was composed entirely of Gentiles.
The Jews and Gentiles needed reconciliation and Paul was showing them the way.
It would be the way of the gospel. The Jews especially needed a refresher – but then, don’t we all ---.
In what ways might we tend to be lulled into unconsciousness about the true nature of our sinful condition? Legalism, lineage, laceration.
We can be lulled into unconsciousness about the true nature of our sinful condition by legalism – thinking that possessing knowledge of the law is as good as obeying the law (vv. 2:12-16).
We can be lulled into unconsciousness about the true nature of our sinful condition by lineage – thinking that our special relationship to God is as good as obeying the law (vv. 2: 17-24).
We can be lulled into unconsciousness about the true nature of our sinful condition by laceration – thinking that our covenant ritual is as good as obeying the law (vv. 2:25-29).
But the true nature of the law is to shake us into consciousness about the totally irredeemable and abject sinfullness of our own nature that leaves only the nature of God to trust (3:1-20).