Faithlife Sermons

I Will Not Boast (Romans 3:27-31)

Romans: Guilty with Hope  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:12
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Today's message: I Will Not Boast (Romans 3:27-31)... "I’m saved by faith, not what I do - so I’ll boast in Jesus Christ!" // To find out more about Involve Church, head to involvechurch.com or email info@involvechurch.com.

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Introduction

Good morning - its good to see each one of you today…once again, we want to welcome you. If this is your first Sunday at Involve you should know that we value Scripture highly and you’ll find that whatever we say and do we do our best to wrestle with the question, “What does the Bible have to say about this?”
Our sermon series are no exception. In fact, most of our sermon series pick a book of Scripture and preach straight through it - every word and passage. We do this because we believe that every word of Scripture is chosen carefully by God for our instruction and benefit. We believe that Scripture isn’t like any other book, but that as we read through it, teach it, and seek to apply it to our lives, it changes our lives unlike anything else that can be found out there. And that’s because the words and message found in Scripture are supernatural - given by God.
So we find ourselves in the middle of a message that God gave to Paul to send to the first-century church in Rome. Up to this point, Paul has spent time demonstrating to us that every person is a sinner - that there is not one person who is perfectly righteous on the face of this earth except for Jesus. Only Jesus can claim the attribute “blameless.” Then He tells us that both Jews and Gentiles alike are both in need of some way to be made right with God - that our status as sinners has afforded us a verdict of “guilty” before a God who is perfectly just in how He handles judgment. The sentence for our guilt is death - this guilt before a holy God demands blood. But, as Pastor Ryan pointed out last week, Paul shares something that is life-changing Good News. Here is what he says:
Romans 3:22–25 CSB
The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.
In a nutshell, the good news is that we don’t have to die for the sins we have committed. Jesus died in our place. And the confirmation to us that Jesus’ sacrifice was acceptable to God was that Christ was raised from the dead. And so, those of us that place our faith in Him enjoy the benefits of having paid for our sins through His shed blood and also will not die because we are linked with Him in eternal life.
At this point, Paul is about to take a bit of a turn and he is going to explain to us in chapter four how Abraham, the father of Isaac and Jacob, was saved by faith. But before he does that, he wants to touch on a few topics and summarize everything that he has just stated for us. And he does that in Romans 3:27-31.
Before we dive into the passage, let’s pray together.

The Pride of All

This morning, would you please read on with me in Romans 3:27? Paul says...
Romans 3:27–28 CSB
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Paul is making a profound statement here. At this point, put yourself in the shoes of someone in 1st Century Rome. You are gathering together to learn more about this newfound message about Jesus. As you gather - probably in someone’s home or possibly a Jewish synagogue - early on Sunday morning, the person who has been leading your group steps up and says, “Hey guys - I just received a letter from Paul this week. I’d like to read it to you all.” As this person reads, you’ve probably gotten the point that we have done a lot of bad that warrants punishment, right? And you’ve probably gotten the point that justice was served when Jesus died in your place. And you’ve also probably gotten the fact that Jews and Gentiles alike need to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.
Paul knows all of this, but he also knows the human heart and the direction our thoughts would take us. Even though he’s just said that “all fall short,” he wants to make this next point abundantly clear. He knows that every person wants to get defensive and say, “Hey - I’ve done some things that are good. I’ve followed the ten commandments...mostly, I raked my neighbors lawn, I gave some money to Bob down the street when he happened upon hard times. I went to church on Sunday - I got baptized - I took communion. I even got involved in my local church and helped with setup every Sunday. I served as a leader. Look at all of the things that I did. Surely that’s got to count for something.”

The Human Propensity to Boast (v. 27)

Someone has said that “pride in human achievement constantly threatens a prosperous people. Spiritual pride easily leads prosperous people to forget that their blessings are not rewards for being good.”

Another way to say that second part is that you are blessed not as a result of what you do, but rather because God is gracious, and kind, and good. When comes to status before God, we have to swallow our desire to point to all of the things we’ve done, do away with trying to rationalize all of the bad things we’ve done, and admit that we have nothing to offer God that merits righteous standing. All there is is faith in Christ alone. God offers forgiveness through faith in Him.

Why We are Wrong to Boast (v. 28)

“Faith excludes boasting because we are saved not by our works, but we are saved by the work of Jesus on the cross and by God’s raising Him from the dead.”
Faith itself is not meritorious. Some will make the argument that faith is a work - that it is something I have to “do” to earn salvation. But, imagine with me for a second that it is your birthday and someone is giving you a gift. Have you done something to deserve that gift? Most people would say that they are not owed a gift for their birthday, but that a gift given to you by someone on your birthday is something that is graciously given to you by someone else. So let’s take that a step further - You accept that gift that someone is giving you....have you done something to deserve that gift now that you have accepted it? By reaching out and receiving that gift has it made you any more deserving of the gift than you were before you accepted the gift. Salvation, according to Scripture, is a gift that is offered freely. And faith is like the hands of your heart, open, receiving the gift in faith. The receiving of the gift given of salvation does not earn you salvation, it simply is receiving what God is freely offering to you.
So because justification is given to us as a free gift - not of anything that we’ve done and not because of any righteous status we have - it is impossible for us to boast of ourselves. But we boast in Jesus Christ.

The God of Hope for All

At this point, Paul turns our attention again to the fact that there has previously been a people of God - the Jews - and those who are considered outside of the promises of God - the Gentiles. You might find yourself thinking that Paul sure does spend a lot of time on this topic. But something to consider is this - for centuries, the Jews have been the chosen people of God. More than this, the Pharisees and other religious teachers of the day prided themselves on the fact that the Jews had the law, that they were afforded a special status as God’s chosen people, and that they - as religious leaders - were the best at keeping the Law out of any of the Jews. And so, even the religious teachers of the day pointed to what they did to justify themselves before God.
But what Paul is pointing out is that the attempts of the Jews to follow the law fall short. Even if they were able to follow the letter of the law, we find Jesus saying things like this:
Matthew 15:8–9 CSB
This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands.”
God knows that the problem, ultimately, is with the propensity of our hearts. And the propensity of our hearts is to boast on the wrong things.

God is the God of Jews and Gentiles alike (v. 29).

So, Paul makes the statement that works doesn’t justify us - but faith does. Then, he tears down this dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles by saying:
Romans 3:29 CSB
Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,
Once again, he is reminding the Jews that salvation comes through trusting God and the one He sent - the long-awaited Christ.

One God = One Path of Salvation for All (v. 30).

He goes on to say this:
Romans 3:30 CSB
since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
Here is what Paul is saying - he is actually building an argument and its this:
Jews - you have always said that there is only one God and that you are the ones who worship the one, true God.
If there is only one God, He is the God of the Gentiles, too.
Jews - you keep arguing that you are saved by your adherence to the Law.
I, Paul, keep saying you can only be saved by faith, not by works. The ideas are mutually exclusive.
Both can’t be true - since God is one, He is consistently faithful and there is only one path to salvation, both for Jews and for non-Jews - and that path is faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Freedom for All in Christ

And in building this argument, Paul is giving us a message that isn’t full of condemnation. He’s giving us a message of hope, because whether you are a Jew or a non-Jew, you don’t have to wonder whether you are acceptable in the sight of God. If you place your faith in Christ, you can have peace with God and live free from the fear of whether you are good enough or not good enough. This is a message of hope.
But then Paul makes a statement that, on the surface makes it seem like he unravels his entire argument. Here is what he says:
Romans 3:31 CSB
Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
So what is Paul talking about here? You know - Paul has a very pastoral heart. He cares very much about making sure that he guides people in the right direction over a long period of time. By the time in his life that wrote this letter, he has had enough discussion with people to know what someone is going to say when he successfully makes the case that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. Some might say, “Aha! I have a get out of jail free card! Since there is no condemnation for those who place their faith in Christ, I now can do whatever I want to do without fear of consequence! I don’t have to follow the law any longer.” And Paul would tell that person that their perspective is skewed.

...from punishment (v. 31a).

So what does Paul mean? In the first part of verse 31, Paul asks a question. Essentially, the question is this: does salvation by grace through faith in Christ mean that the Law is no longer applicable? Is the Law dismantled now that we are saved by faith? It seems like the answer to this question would be “yes” since our salvation isn’t dependent on what we do - on our adherence to the Law. But, Paul surprises us by saying “No! Absolutely not!”
Here’s the explanation - Paul has made the case that we are free from the negative consequences of disobedience to the Law. Why? Because we place our faith in Christ and He is the one that took the negative consequence of disobedience to the Law upon Himself in his death on the cross. More than this, though, Paul and the other New Testament authors make it clear that, when you place your faith in Jesus, you now identify with Christ. You are “one” with Him. This is the same concept as when we are talking about being “in Christ.” When Scripture says we are “in Christ” it is stating that all of what Christ did, God attributes to us, like we have done what He did. The standing that Christ has before God is now afforded to us - it is our standing before God. This is something we called imputation - our sin was imputed to Christ and His righteousness and what He did was imputed to us.
So why do I bring this up? Here is why - look what Jesus said about Himself:
Matthew 5:17 CSB
“Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
Jesus Himself was the very embodiment of the Law. He met the righteous requirements of the Law. If you are “in Christ,” that means that you, too have met the righteous requirements of the Law. When God looks at you, He sees that you have fulfilled the Law because Christ fulfilled the Law and you are in Christ. That’s one aspect of what Paul is saying here, but it gets even better than this.

...to live in righteousness (v. 31b).

Paul isn’t just talking about how God views us in Christ. What you need to be obedient to God you can’t accomplish on your own. You need something supernatural to do that - you need God’s Spirit living in you. But, God’s Spirit can’t live in you until something is done about the sin in you. By placing your faith in Christ, God takes away your sin, gives you the righteousness of Christ, and places His Spirit in you. This spirit that now lives in you enables you to live for Him. A commentator put it this way:
Paul affirms the valid demand that God makes of people in the law, and that demand cannot simply be swept under the carpet. But one of the things Christ does is to fulfill the law on our behalf. We who are in Christ are therefore accounted as having fulfilled the law and been set free from its penalties for disobedience. It is, paradoxically, this very freedom from the law’s condemnation that puts us into a relationship in which true obedience, motivated and directed by the Spirit, can come about.
Paul wants us to understand that God, through faith in Jesus Christ, has given us all that we need to live the life God has called us to live. We do it not out of a motivation to earn God’s favor or right standing with Him - we simply do it out of love for Him and because we want others to see Christ in us. Paul says this very thing in Ephesians 2:
Ephesians 2:8–10 CSB
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
Another way to sum up what Paul is saying in verses 27-31 is this:
I’m saved by faith, not what I do - so I’ll boast in Jesus Christ!
Boasting, if you have a legitimate basis for boasting, isn’t a bad thing. The problem is this - you and me, in and of ourselves, have no basis for boasting. Forgiveness has been granted to us as a gift through faith in God’s son, Jesus, the Christ. So, rather than boasting about ourselves, we boast on Jesus Christ - we tell as many people as we can about the salvation that has been granted to us freely in hopes that they, too might reach out and accept this free gift that is offered by faith in Him.
There’s a song that many of you know, some of you don’t. That’s ok if you don’t because I’m about to introduce it to you. It sums up what Paul is conveying to us. We are going to sing it a cappella together:
How deep the Father's love for us How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss The Father turns His face away As wounds which mar the Chosen One Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross My sin upon His shoulders Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there Until it was accomplished His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything No gifts, no power, no wisdom But I will boast in Jesus Christ His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom
Let’s pray.
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