1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 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.” 5 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.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
Does anyone watch, or read courtroom dramas? Books, movies or TV shows based around court trials? Court room drams can be exciting. As the trial plays out you do not know who is going to win. You root for one side or the other, and there are twists and turns. Usually, one of the lawyers really starts to appear brilliant, the questions are rapid fire, someone is on the stand, sweating, fumbling for answers, the attorney fires off question after question, Isn’t it true that you were secretly involved in ......you know how it goes.
This draws us in. We have a favorite side, and we think Aha! he has got ‘em now, there is no way for him to weasel his way out of this. Then what happens?
The defense attorney jumps out of his seat, and exclaims, I object!. Your honor, the prosecutor is clearly badgering the witness. Right? Then the judge tells the defense attorney to re-phrase the question, and the whole thing starts over again.
In the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul is carefully building a case for guilt of the guilt of the human race. It started back in chapter 1, verse 18,
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
The wrath of God is being revealed against mankind. Paul starts to lay out his case, first against the Gentiles, or those without God. Then in chapter 2, he places the Jewish people on the stand. Paul points out that the Jews are a bit hypocritical,”you who pass judgement do the same things”. in Chapter 2, verse 1. He presents a case that they are in fact sinners too just like those that do not know God.
These are serious accusations, if true. The Jews think that they are not subject to God’s judgement in the same way as the Gentiles, because they are His sons and daughters. They are already in the kingdom. In the Jewish mind, you are born a Jew. You are either born as God’s sons and daughters, or you are not. In or out.
Then he concludes chapter 2, with this Bombshell. We talked about it 2 weeks ago, it echos all the way back to the Ezekiel prophecy in Ezekiel 36:26.”I will give you a new heart and a new spirit...
Here it is again, in Romans 2:28, and 29.
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Now, if we could leave it there as only applying to 1st century Jews, we could just put it aside, and move on and say it does not apply to me, I don’t have to worry about it, not applicable. I wish it were that easy, but it’s not and here is why.
Remember this letter is written to the Church in Rome. The “Jews” that he is talking to, in their sinfulness are in the church. If they are in the church, but do not have a new heart, they are unconverted. They are false converts.
Do we have false converts today? Absolutely. Churches are full of them. Jesus in talked about them in Matthew 13, churches will always contain false converts. What do false converts in the church look like today?
Every Sunday, all over the world people gather in churches. In those churches are those that know Jesus Christ. They are the ones, that have genuinely repented of their sins and gave their life to Christ with a whole heart dedicated to the Lord Jesus.
But some of the people in those churches are like the Jewish people that Paul is talking about. They think they are in because they are part of the external church. They mistakingly think salvation depends on what the externals. Maybe, they don’t say it in those terms, or maybe they do not think about it that way, but they behave that way. It goes like this.
They were born to Church going parents, perhaps baptised as an infant. They then think that the baptism does something to effect their position in God’s kingdom. Some, surely went to Sunday School, were confirmed, and became members of the church. Thinking that doing those things causes God to look on them with favor. Yet their heart remains unconverted. They have not repented of their sins, and they continue on in sin. Maybe they do not love their neighbor, or they are engaged in some type of immorality, or lying or stealing. And it does not bother them. Their sin causes them no sadness. They do not love Jesus.
I am going to read those for us, but rather than saying Jews, I am going to use Christians so that you get the feel of how this applies to the church today. And instead of circumcision, I am going to use baptism, since that is considered a parallel.
“A person is not a Christian who is one only outwardly, nor is baptism merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Christian who is one inwardly; and Baptism is Baptism of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. “
Now, think about this for moment, both in their context and in ours. These people have spent their lives being a Jew. Their circumscision is important, it is a physical symbol, in the flesh of their membership, and Paul is saying that they are under God’s judgement? This is not going to go over very well.
Likewise, imagine standing in front of whole Church and telling them that even though they have spent there whole lives coming to church, and doing what they think is what they need to do, then telling them that they are not saved. Imagine telling them that Baptism is not what saves them. This is hard stuff to hear.
So it is at this point that people would want to jump up and say I object! Paul, you mean to tell me , that there is no advantage to being a Jew? No advantage to coming to church for all theses years?
All this is a waste of time and money?
This is what is happening in Romans 3. The apostle Paul is anticipating that objection.
Paul is skilled at presenting an argument, and skilled presenter anticipates questions people might have. So Paul, poses this question as if he is engaging with someone in a dialogue. He actually does this many times through out Romans, but here in these 8 verses he offers three responses to potential objections.
The First Objection
The First Objection
The first objection is found in verse 1, and it goes like this.
1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?
If being a Jew does not save you, if going to church and participating in all the rituals does not save you, then there is no advantage to it, no benefit. Right?
Actually, for those that are Paul’s side, we would expect Paul to answer None! There is no advantage.
But that is not what he says.
2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.
There is an advantage, and the biggest advantage is that they have the word of God! That is big advantage. The Gentiles are out there without law, without any moral standard. That is a great advantage.
That is true for us also. A person being around the Church, being exposed to the word of God is of great advantage. They have opportunities the rest of the world does not have. They have the opportunity to hear the gospel, and believe. They have the fellowship of the believers, that are living according to the word.They have the moral standard to live by. They are not subject to the lawlessness or the suppression of the truth like the Gentiles.
God’s word does not go out void, even in the lives of the unbelievers, it has a positive impact. The rain falls on the good and the bad right. Even an unbeliever can take this book and live a pretty good life by life following the principals in here.
The objection goes on in verse 3.
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?
God made a promise to the Jews, that they would be his people, and he makes that promise to the church also. I will save my people. Doesn’t that promise apply to all in the church or all of Israel?
In other words if God saves the church, and someone is here in the physical Church and God doesn’t save them, doesn’t that make God out to be unfaithful?
Paul will further develop this argument in Romans 9.
6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
Now, if a Jew is subject to judgement, doesn’t that mean that God is not true to his promise?
4 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.”
No at all, remember the character of the judge we are dealing with. Remember God’s character. God is always true and right, and every human being a liar in the sight of absolute truth and justice. Then Paul quotes Psalm 51, verse 4.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
David wrote this Psalm in repentence after he was unfaithful, and committed adultery with Bathsheba, and conspired to murder her husband. David was unfaithful, but our unfaithfulness, our walking away from God, does not effect God’s faithfulness. God has not moved. We have moved.
It is not about the physical it is about the heart. It is always about the heart. David in that Psalm says
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
It is not physical Israel, nor is it the outward VISIBLE church. It is one who has a heart dedicated to the Lord, it is the invisible church, man judges by outward appearance, and God looks to the heart.
The Second Objection
The Second Objection
The second objection is in the next verse Romans 3:5.
5 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.)
When you look at diamond, in the pretty glass case, surrounded by white, it doesn’t look all that special. But when you have the jeweler take it out of the case, He places a black cloth underneath. Then the stone begins to shine brilliantly. The contrast of the white light reflecting in the diamond, against the pure black background make the diamond see all that more brilliant.
That is the objection, here. It is similar to Paul’s theme verse of Romans; 1:17.
17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
In a way, our sinfulness displays God’s righteousness. For in the gospel, which we need because we are all with sin, the righteousness of God is revealed. God’s righteousness is revealed because of our sinfulness.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
If we are indeed so sinful. Sinful through and through, doesn’t that just show how righteous God is? And if it shows how righteous God is doesn’t that make Him unjust for judging us for it? This is the human argument, or the argument using a man-made view.
In other words, doesn’t our black sinfulness, make God’s purity seem all that more white, and how can he hold us accountable for making him look better?
6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?
If that were the case, if it was not our fault that we were made sinners but God’s fault for being righteous, then the whole world would just simply have to be let go. God would have to pardon the entire human race. Justice would cease to exist.
When we think further of that we quickly realize how absurd that would be. There must be a sense of right and wrong in the world. Without any justice at all the whole human race would collapse. Humans already commit horrible acts against one another., without any justice there would be no limit.
God being who he is rIghteous, and just must judge the world. God’s righteousness means not that He can can just let the world go, because it is not their fault, but rather that because of His righteousness He must judge the world.
The Third Objection
The Third Objection
The third and final objection has to do with God’s glory being displayed in our weakness.
God is in the saving business. God’s glory is displayed when he saves people. For instance. God’s glory was displayed when he brought the Israelites out of bondage to Egypt. God’s glory was displayed when brought the exiles back. God’s glory was displayed when Jesus came and saved the poor and the sick and outcast. God’s glory is displayed the prison bars flung open, when he takes the drunkard, and sobers him up, when He takes the sinner and makes him a preacher.
God’s glory is displayed when he saves sinners.
7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?”
The falsehood of man, meaning the fact that we do not conform to the truthfulness of God, that we are by nature liars in respect to God’s true and Holy word- that fact meant that Jesus-the way and the Truth and the life had to come and bring glory to God by saving us through the cross.
In other words, if we by our nature our by who are, we are incapable of saving ourselves, and then when God saves us, this brings glory to God. If that is indeed the case. If all glory goes to God, and not us, then certainly we should not be condemned as a sinner. It is who we are, it is how we were made, we were born that way.
8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
If that is the case then we may as well not worry about it. We are who we are, we throw up our hands God saves us and is glorified by that.
When we talk about the Gospel-the true gospel, it always brings objections from both sides. One side objects that it can’t be by faith alone, there HAS to be something that we add to it. There has to be a sacrament a baptism, a law something that is added to it. That is not true the gospel is by grace ALONE, and by faith ALONE, not by works so that no man can boast.
That is what we talked about earlier, now, here it is the other side. If the gospel is by faith and grace alone, some people say, then it doesn’t matter what I do, I’m saved. I can live however I want.
Later on in Romans Paul will more fully develop this idea, in chapter 6.
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Faith in the gospel alone, meaning that we do not rely on anything that we do, at all, not church membership, not our baptism not the sacraments just faith alone. This causes in us a new heart, that wants to not sin. A new heart that avoids sin, a heart that has died to sin.
If you are on either side--- either still living in sin, or still trusting in what you do. You are a false convert and you have not come to saving faith the gospel.
Sadly this SO commonplace today. Read any articles on religion and denominations, look up publications from various churches, not all but some, and you will read how commonplace it is.
You will hear things like this, God has wider tent, and we are all under it. Outcasts, sinners, poor in spirit. We are all made this way, and God’s sin covers us. We can’t help being born this way this is how we are and God loves us just as we are. Be baptised, become a member of the church volunteer, as long as we are part of the church, we are under the tent, and we are in. The Church distributes God’s grace through the sacraments.
That is not what the Bible teaches. You have to ignore the plain reading of scripture to come up with that. The Bible teaches this.
God does welcome all to come to him, all are welcome to come and and hear the gospel. But the gospel means that we must lay our sin down at the foot of the cross. God’s grace comes to us by faith in Christ alone, not faith in the Church. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, Jesus rose from the dead three later, Jesus rose in victory over the sin. Sin did not win! Sin does not have the victory. If sin has the victory in your life, you have not come to the cross.
God does transform the repentant sinner. God does heal the broken, the immoral, the liars and thieves, physically, not just in theory. But really and actually.
To be forgiven, and transformed by the power of the gospel, the only way is by faith alone. The only way to come to Jesus is alone, you must lay down whatever you trust in, yo must lay down whatever sin you cling to, and you must trust and believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—