Friday, December 02, 2022

Romans 3:27-31


"27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." ~ Romans 3:27-31

Today, we conclude our study of Romans 3 where the Apostle Paul asks three questions in order to show the believer in Christ the utter importance of the Law in his life. The Law was not given to make us right before God because we could not obey it enough to be made anywhere near right before God. He gave us His Law to break our will so that we would see our need for the Savior and trust in His rightness.

The three questions the Apostle Paul highlights in today's passage underscores the fact that the Law or the truth of God place a very important role in the believers life after he has been born again. It is largely through the Law that the believer in Christ realizes and enjoys the blessings God has bestowed on us.

In v.27-28 of today's passage reads, "27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law."

The point of this first question is: There is no ground for pride in the life of the believer in Christ and he has no ground upon which he can be self-righteous. This is why the worst sin is self-righteousness. When we look condescendingly down our noses on others who are involved in certain sins like homosexuality or drug addiction, when we begin to think that we are better than they are, it is then that we have cheapened what God has done for us through His Son. The only ground of God's acceptance for any of us is the gift of His grace. No one is excluded from God's grace, Jew or Gentile, good or bad. It is there for the receiving for all willing of heart to believe God's rescue story of sinful and rebellious man. The ground at the foot of the cross is level for all who will risk believing that Christ has procured God's forgiveness on our behalf.

It was arrogant pride that inaugurated sin when Lucifer decided to no longer lead others to worship God and to redirect their worship. And, when we believe his lie to make life a go without God, we have allowed him, Lucifer, to trap up into rebelling against God. So, pride and its prodigy, self-righteousness, gains the upper hand in our lives.

In v.29-30 of today's passage we read, "29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith."

The point of this second question is that the God of the Bible is the God of all soft-hearted enough to be defined by Him. Think of the first Jew, Abram, whom God renamed Abraham. In renaming him, God or YHWH, gave Abram a part of his name. God took "hey" from the middle of His name and placed it in the middle of Abram's name. Abram + hey = Abraheyam or Abraham. The purpose of the name change was to establish God's covenant with Abraham. You see, the only thing that makes any of us acceptable before God is God Himself. We can not begin to take credit for our right standing before God, ever. Our rightness before God is a gift. This gift is literally more than the forgiveness of our sin, the gift is Himself. And, by the way, before Abraham was a Jew, he was a Gentile who grew up in southern Iraq.

In v.31 of today's passage we read, "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law."

The point behind this third question is: The righteousness which the Law demands is the very righteousness that is given to us in Christ. So, if we have God's righteousness applied to us as a gift, we no longer need to fear the Law, because the demands of the Law have been met by the Lord Jesus. And, this is not something for which we can take credit because whenever we act upon our sin afterwards, the Law comes in again to do its work to show us that we are wrong. This is what the Bible refers to as conviction of sin. This is the primary purpose of the Law in the life of the believer in Christ. It is the Law, in tandem with the Holy Spirit, that shows us when we are wrong. This is when the Law is upheld or substantiated, when we respond to the conviction it renders and we turn back to the God of grace who is also the God of all truth.

The cross declares God’s justice and His grace. His justice confirms His Law, and His grace confirms His Love. And, when we see His love for all that it is, we will love the brilliance of His Law. The cross of Christ put the perfection of God on display. Equally, it magnified the grace of God when His Son arrived to lay down His life as a ransom for you and me. This is the gospel, and when the gospel grips our souls, we gratefully choose to be defined by God, by His Law, by His truth. When this happens, God's Law is established in our hearts, not to make us right with God, but to make us wise. 

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Romans 3:25-26


25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." ~ Romans 3:25-26

Today, we continue our study of Romans 3 where the Apostle Paul has transitioned from finding all of mankind guilty before a holy God to placing the spotlight on the only remedy for our sin problem. The day the Lord Jesus went up to the cross of Calvary, He put sinful self-love on trial, and, once and for all, He won the battle. He did this in order to create the opportunity for anyone willing enough to believe in His finished work on that cross to gain a personal relationship with God.

In v.25 of today's passage we read, "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished." 

The word "presented" literally means to place before or to set to be looked at. It means to expose to public view. This unique word has a second meaning which is to set before one's self to purpose or to determine. The way this word is used here answers the oft asked questions: "Has everyone been given a fair chance to believe?" In addition to creation and man's conscience, God sent the Lord Jesus to the cross revealing to man not only man's utter wickedness, but also, to reveal to man God's marvelous remedy to man's wickedness.

The phrase "as a sacrifice of atonement" is one word in the Greek language. It is only used twice in the New Testament and it means the Lord Jesus Christ "satisfied God's justice in order to make believing man recipients of God's love." That one Greek word describes the only means by which man could be forgiven by God. It means that the Son of God paid the debt of death that man owed to God the Father. He did this, so that we could be granted a personal relationship with God the Father for ourselves. This is eternal life!

This word "hilasterion" was pictured long ago in the Old Testament inside the Tabernacle. It was pictured by "the mercy seat" in the Holy of Holies. The lid on the top of "the Ark of the Covenant" was called the mercy seat. It was there that the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled. It was that shed blood applied on that mercy seat that covered all of the people's sin. The Lord Jesus Christ is our mercy seat. This is how once imprisoned people go free. When the Lord Jesus shed His blood on the cross, He satisfied the just demands of God's holy law.  
He took upon Himself our sin and the subsequent punishment, and God gave us His perfection. This happened when He said from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" At that moment He was separated from all love, all beauty, all truth, all warmth, all acceptance, all that is good, so that you and I could bask in all of that and more for eternity. 

The last five words of v.25, "to be received by faith," brings into view the role that you and I play in this narrative. The role that you and I play is to receive the free gift. It is a difficult thing to do since the ability to receive must be steeped in humility. In this case receiving is believing, believing that the Lord Jesus satisfied God's righteous demands on our behalf when He died on the cross of Calvary. 

The last sentence of v.25 reads, "He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished."

God punished His Son so that His righteousness would be upheld and His forbearance would be highlighted. This is important because it is this message that grants us the ability to know that we are forgiven and we can live as a freed people. The believer in Christ has been freed from the penalty of our past, present and future sins. One day, we will be freed from the power and presence of sin.

In v.26 of today's passage we read, "... he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

The death of Christ says God is righteous. It also says mankind's sin had to be punished, otherwise the truth would have been compromised. And, if the truth were compromised all hell on earth would break out. And, hell would win. The Lord Jesus not only had to die for us, He had to die for the perpetuation of the truth. It was at the cross of Christ that God's justice and His mercy met. The penalty for our death and eternal separation from God was paid; something we could not do for ourselves.

Think of it: It is a truly amazing thing that the holy God Himself became the very sacrifice to His own justice. God died to satisfy His own righteous demands. He had to first satisfy Himself before He could be free to satisfy any human need. He stood in the way of His own saving work and had to be satisfied. And, He loved us so much that He went to that length to satisfy His own nature to be freed to satisfy forever the everlasting need of all who would ever be willing enough to believe this amazingly true story.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Romans 3:22-24


22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 3:22-24

The book of Romans is divided up into five parts: Chapters 1-3 are about the sinful condition of man. Chapters 4-5 are about salvation. Chapters 6-8 are about sanctification. Chapters 9-11 are about the sovereignty of God, and chapters 12-16 are about service. The last section of this epistle reveals the ultimate point to the book: a life of service to God and for others.

After evaluating man’s failed efforts to get life right for himself and to achieve some kind of standing before God, God chose to reveal His righteousness to man through the gospel of His Son. Through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has made it possible for man to be made right with Him without lowering His standards. The requirement for us to be made right before Him is an act of our will to choose to trust that His Son's finished work on the cross procured His forgiveness of our sin.

In v.22 of today's passage we read, "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile."

This word "righteousness" is a highly misunderstood word in today's world. Most associate it with good behavior. Man largely believes if his good behavior outweighs his bad behavior, God will have no other choice but to accept him into His heaven. But, this is not so according to the Bible. As pointed out in Romans 1:18 we were all sinful before we sinned. More than an action, sin is a condition. This is a key to understand because we see sin as less than it is. In fact, this is why we think some are more sinful than others. This is not the case. It is that some act on their sinfulness more wickedly than others. But, we are all equally wicked. 

"Righteousness" is God's standard. That means if we are not totally perfect and without sin, we can not enter into God's presence. The Lord Jesus came to deliver to wicked man the gift of salvation and it is for the taking for anyone willing to place our faith in His finished work on the cross for the removal of our sinful condition. Righteousness, in this case, is positional perfection. The believer in Christ will not know practical perfection until he is in heaven. It is the perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ applied to us that makes us positionally righteous before the holy and just God of the Bible. 

We will never know this positional rightness before God until we decide to own up to our wickedness and our inability to get life right. And then, we choose to believe in the fact that the Lord Jesus died in our place. It is not until we receive the free gift of forgiveness of our sin that we will out of our accepted status in Christ enjoy a personal relationship with God. When we have come to this place, God will view us through the lens of His Son and His perfection. This, as a result, sets us on a journey whereby God will define us as we learn His culture through His word, the Bible. But, make no mistake about: No good behavior on our behalf will ever earn God's favor. The good behavior that follows salvation is the topic of Romans 6-8 which we will consider at a later time.

In v.23 of today's passage we read, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

All of mankind is in the same tragic situation. No mere man has ever escaped the taint of evil and sin. We lack a biblical understanding of sin because we see sin as an action. Long before sin was an action it was a condition. It was due to the fact that we were conceived into sin that we were separated from God. Not all have sinned to the same degree, but all have the same inability to measuring up to the standard that is required by God to remove that which separates us from Him. Our sinfulness has caused us to come up short of the glory of God so that we can not remotely be safe in His presence.

In v.24 of today's passage we read, "and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

Through Christ, God has made it possible for us to be declared righteous "as a gift by His grace." The only way we can be made right before God is that we are granted the gift of salvation by Him through His Son. Grace is free only because the Giver Himself has borne the cost. This gift of forgiveness is not a wage; it is not something that we earn. In fact, it is a gift of His grace given to establish us as righteous before God. We do not deserve it and we never will. This is grace in its purest form.

Throughout his writings, the Apostle Paul uses the word "grace" which is the undeserved and unmerited favor of God. Once we have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus and the work He accomplished on the cross, our redemption frees us from our condition of bondage, captivity, enslavement and debt to God. In fact, there was no way out of that dark dungeon for us. Grace informs us that there is no cost to us for our redemption, but, it came at an incredible cost for the Lord Jesus. This is what redemption is, it is freedom achieved by the payment of a price. The price paid was the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. He gave His life which was the only payment that could secure our freedom. I find it most interesting that in His teachings, the Lord Jesus never used the word "grace" itself. He did far more than that though. He taught and He lived grace, and, He has not stopped. 

The word "redemption" appears ten times in the New Testament. It always delivers the idea of deliverance by payment of a ransom. In this case, we have been delivered from the wrath of God so that we can enjoy all of the good things about God. This underscores what God's wrath is. God's wrath is the absence of all that is good. And, to be "redeemed" delivers the idea that our sin has been removed from us because the justice and wrath of God has been satisfied. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read, "Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could become right with God." 

God treated the Lord Jesus as if He had committed our sins. As a result, He punished Him fully with all His wrath. While hanging on the cross, in just a matter of hours, this One who is an infinite being, took an infinite amount of punishment upon Himself for you and me. He bore all the wrath of God for all who have ever sinned and all who will yet sin. Through His death on the cross, all of the righteous demands of God were satisfied. It is the grace of God that enables us to choose Him with no strings attached. In that context love can grow. And, it will grow, because it is His grace that enables us to see His heart.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Romans 3:21


But God has a way to make people right with him without the law, and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about. ~ Romans 3:21

The theme of Romans is the gospel which means "good news" and it is all about how sinful man can be made right before God. The way sinful man is made right before God is by way of imputation. God freely gives or imputes that which is not ours. That Bible calls this justification. God makes a declaration that those who trust in His Son's finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin are made right in His presence or worthy to be in His presence.

Beginning in Romans 1:19 through Romans 3:20, the Apostle Paul revealed the useless approaches of sinful man to make meaning out of his life. Since sinful man has this sense of lostness, guilt, loneliness, emptiness, and subsequent meaninglessness, he knows that there is more to life than what he has discovered. This, in fact, explains why religion exists. But the Bible is very clear that we can only be made right with God through the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross. So, beginning in Romans 3:21 through the end of the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul shows us the only approach to life that works, and, it is the grace saturated life.

There are those who say there are only two religions in this world: the religion of human achievement and the religion of Christianity. I would beg to differ because religion all across the world underscores man's attempts to establish a relationship with God and that is impossible for sinful man. Having a proper understanding of religion reveals that Christianity is no religion at all because in Christianity God initiates a relationship with sinful man.

Beginning in Romans 1:18 and ending in Romans 3:20, we have learned that "the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of sinful man." Paul has aptly shown that all men are guilty of sin and therefore deserving of the judgement of God. We have seen that man is without a defense because what may be known of God and His truth He has made clear through creation and man's conscience. In fact, in Romans 3:10 we discovered: "There is no one who is righteous." As a result, "There is no one who seeks God." 

In the midst of all of this truth about the sinful condition of man, we learn that the Jews believed that they could be right with God by their adherence to perfect Law of God. But, man is imperfect and his attempts to earn God's favor is greatly wanting. Many think the Old Testament saints were made right with God because they performed sacrifices and they carried out certain rituals. That is not true. It is clear throughout the Bible that it has always been by faith in the God of the Bible that justified anyone before Him. The religious activities of the Old Testament saints was never the basis of God's acceptance of them. As we will see as we go through Romans, "The just shall live by faith." All of the sacrifices in the Old Testament were given because God intended for them to point the people to the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, as we come to our verse for today, we see that sinful man has been ushered into the courtroom of God and through God's Law man has been founded guilty. But, in that moment according to Romans 3:21, we read, "But God." The darkness of our sin can be dispelled. It was at that crucial moment in redemptive history when man was without hope that the God of the Bible revealed His righteousness. 

In today's verse we read, "But God has a way to make people right with him without the law." 

The first two words of this verse is God's great "nevertheless" given in the face of man's failure to make himself right before God. To be made right before God is highly misunderstood in our day. Often it is associated with man's good behavior. Most believe if their good behavior outweighs their bad, God will let them into heaven. This reveals they do not understand the perfect standard of God.

The most accurate understanding of righteousness is found in the word "worth." This sense of worth is the most essential element in human existence, and without it we cannot function as human beings. And then, along comes the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which announces that the worth we long for has been made available to us. 

Notice the words "without the law." It is not the righteousness of man that makes us right with God. No, this worthiness before God is not the product of our adherence to the Law because we in our sinful state are incapable of measuring up to God's perfect standard of righteousness. The prophet Isaiah described our attempts to earn worthiness before God is as filthy rags. Our goodness can not earn a right and worthy standing before a holy God. So, we are introduced to the righteousness of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, the Lord Jesus came as the total fulfillment of God's perfect and righteous standard. He always did the Father's will, He never sinned a sin or thought an evil thought or said an evil word of any kind. He was absolutely without sin and therefore He had a righteousness which perfectly fulfilled the law. In fact, He kept every law of God to perfection. 

The Lord Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:20: "Your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if you're going to be in My kingdom." 

The religious leaders of the Lord Jesus' day had a righteousness unacceptable before God. Their righteousness was flawed because they were sinful. This is why the Lord Jesus came to fulfill the Law or all truth. He did this so that we could vicariously benefit before the perfect God of the Bible. If God were to accept us as partially right then He would have undermined the truth. And, if that were the case, evil would have won.

The second half of today's verse reads, "and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about."

Those who believed in the God of the Bible who lived on this earth before the cross of Christ knew that the Law of Moses and all the 300 messianic prophesies of the Old Testament prophets were about One individual. The Law and the prophets bore testimony to the coming life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole Old Testament sacrificial system was a witness to mankind that One would come who would take away the sins of the world. In Psalm 32:1 King David prophesied, "Blessed is the person whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned." 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Romans 3:13-20


"13 Their throats are like open graves; they use their tongues for telling lies.' 'Their words are like snake poison.' 14 'Their mouths are full of cursing and hate.' 15 'They are always ready to kill people. 16 Everywhere they go they cause ruin and misery. 17 They don’t know how to live in peace.' 18 'They have no fear of God.' 19 We know that the law’s commands are for those who have the law. This stops all excuses and brings the whole world under God’s judgment, 20 because no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin." ~ Romans 3:13-20

Today, we return to our study of Romans 3 where the Apostle Paul concludes his indictment of the human race. In Romans 1-3, the Apostle has ushered all of mankind into the courtroom of God in order to declare us all guilty of sin before God. Sinful and rebellious man is not morally good by nature. No, we are morally bad by nature. We do not just sin, we are sinful. We are not innocent victims of sin, we are co-conspirators with sin against God.

In v.13-15 of today's passage we read, "'13 Their throats are like open graves; they use their tongues for telling lies.' 'Their words are like snake poison.' 14 'Their mouths are full of cursing and hate.' 15 'They are always ready to kill people.'"

Here, the Apostle describes the progressive nature of sin. He describes man's sinfulness by directing our attention to the inside of man. He begins in the throat, then to the tongue, then the words, and then, the whole mouth. Paul helps us to understand that we have a heart problem, this is why he moves us from the inward to the outward. The wicked heart of man is an open grave full of lies, poison, cursing, hatred and murder. 

Sin is a condition of open rebellion against God, not mainly a condition of doing bad things to other people. This is why it is so alarming when people argue that they are basically good. When we do this, we confuse decency with perfection. We think that since we do not do certain sins and we do some good things that we are basically acceptable before God. When we do this, we prove we do not understand that God's standard is perfect because He is perfect. This is why the Lord Jesus had to come and live a perfect life and to die a perfect death.

In v.16-18 of today's passage we read, "16 Everywhere they go they cause ruin and misery. 17 They don’t know how to live in peace. 18 They have no fear of God."

Our peace is a casualty of our lack of fear towards God. This is so due to the fact that our understanding of God and His culture has been cheapened by our rebellion. When God removes His restraining influence of righteousness on a people which has rejected Him, the world of that people descends into anarchy. Ruin, misery and peace are lost. And, it all happens because we have come to the place where we no longer respect God and His culture. In fact, His culture has been replaced in this country with a culture that resembles Hell itself.

In v.19-20 of today's passage we read, "19 We know that the law’s commands are for those who have the law. This stops all excuses and brings the whole world under God’s judgment, 20 because no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin."

God gave sinful man the Law of Moses in order to shut our mouths, and, to shine His light on our sinfulness. He did this so that we might see true reality, a reality only defined by His Word. It is out of this context that we understand His righteousness and our wickedness best. The Law, to paraphrase Martin Luther, is a divinely sent Hercules sent to attack and kill the monster of self-righteousness, a monster that continues to harass us, even though we may have been born again.

The Law of God gives us a proper understanding of the perfection God requires. Those with a high view of the Law have a high view of God's grace. Those with a low view of the Law have a low view of God's grace. It is only when we have a high view of God's Law that we are motivated to yearn for God's grace. A low view of the Law encourages us to conclude that we can measure up to the Law. A low view of the Law makes us think that its standards are attainable, its goals reachable, and, its demands doable by us.

A high view of the Law, however, demolishes all such confidence. It leaves us no room for supposing that God gave us His Law to enable us to be acceptable before Him. The biggest problem facing us today is a low view of the Law because a low view of the Law lessens our appreciation for God's grace.

It is only when we see that God's Law is absolutely inflexible and unattainable by us that will we see that God's grace is the most wonderful thing ever. A high view of the Law enables us to understand that only God accepts us through His Son's perfection. A high view of the Law produces a high view of God's grace. And, a high view of His Law makes us run as fast as we can to the Savior who deliberately came to earth to render the grace of God because the Law of God had condemned us.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Romans 3:9-12

Click here for the Romans 3:9-12 PODCAST

9 So are we Jews better than others? No! We have already said that Jews and those who are not Jews are all guilty of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say: “There is no one who always does what is right, not even one. 11 There is no one who understands. There is no one who looks to God for help. 12 All have turned away. Together, everyone has become useless. There is no one who does anything good; there is not even one.” ~ Romans 3:9-12

Today, we return to our study of Romans 3 where the Apostle Paul delivers a final convincing indictment that all mankind, including the Jews, are sinful and therefore guilty before God. Romans 3:9-20 is Paul’s summary statement of his whole discourse of the bad news of the Gospel. In today's passage, v.9-12, he begins this final argument by pointing us to several verses out of Psalms and Isaiah, levying a 14 count indictment with the pounding of the gavel of God. 

In v.9-10 of today's passage we read, "9 So are we Jews better than others? No! We have already said that Jews and those who are not Jews are all guilty of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say: “There is no one who always does what is right, not even one."

Having already established the universal fact that both Jews and Gentiles are thoroughly deserving of God's righteous anger, the Apostle Paul now establishes the fact that morally self-righteous people, who pride themselves on their good conduct and clean living, are no better off than the unenlightened pagans of the world. The pinnacle of Paul's reasoning is to repudiate the Jewish opinion that Jews are superior to Gentiles and that they automatically receive salvation because of their Jewish lineage.

In this section, Paul gives count after count against us all that finds us all in desperate need of a savior. Four times the word “none” is used in v.10-18. Three times the word “all” is used establishing the fact that no one escapes this indictment. 

In v.10 Paul quotes Psalm 14:1 and his point is there is no one who is good enough through our actions. Most when asked if they are going to heaven inaccurately say something to the effect that they hope to get to heaven because their good behavior will outweigh their bad. This response clearly shows that their understanding of their sinfulness has not be influenced by the Bible. And, it makes sense that Paul would make the argument that he is making since this book of Romans is about how to be made right with God.

In v.11 of today's passage we read, "There is no one who understands. There is no one who looks to God for help."

In this letter to the Romans, Paul sets out the most exhaustive essay on salvation and covers every question that might be raised by both unbelieving skeptics and maturing believers alike. The indictment he delivers in the first three chapters is divided into three parts: the first part deals with sinful man’s character, the second part deals with sinful man’s speech, and the third part deals with sinful man’s conduct.

In v.11, Paul quotes Psalm 14:2 where God establishes the point that all of mankind has no true perception of divine reality, and, we totally lack right apprehension of God and His goodness. Whether we were born a Jew or a Gentile, we are ALL under the control of sin and subject to its power.

The unsaved man has rationalized God out of his life. And, since we lack this understanding, we do not look to God for help regarding our need. This gets to the root to our problem, which is our sin which has separated us from God. We are at our best when we are most needy because we do not naturally look to God for help until we have been convinced that He is our only hope.

In v.12 of today's passage we read, "All have turned away. Together, everyone has become useless. There is no one who does anything good; there is not even one."

Again, Paul quotes Psalm 14. This time he dips into v.3. When man rebelled against God, we welcomed a condition that blinded us to the truth. The first three words of this verse literally means we have all run away from God as fast as we could, thinking He was our problem. Poor and unwise choices such as gambling, lying, cheating, sexual immorality and gossiping are sinful, but sin is more than just about right and wrong.

The phrase, "Together, everyone has become useless," literally was used to describe milk that had gone sour. Soured milk can only be thrown out because it is useless. This means mankind is rancid and in our sinful state we can not serve our God-intended function. This smacks in the face of a world that is bent on telling everyone nice things. Ignoring the fact that man's positivism contains lies, lost man has no room for the truth anymore. It is as if man was bent on being told lies, knowing them to be lies and then choosing to be defined by the lies. Foolishness! But, it is the truth that sets us free.

For two whole chapters, Paul systematically lays out the shocking reality that everyone who comes into this world is born dead to the truth and alive to sin. This deadness has separated us all from the life of God. In fact, everyone comes into this world as an enemy of God. All are filled with unrighteousness and all are under God's eternal condemnation. A biblical anthropology renders the understanding that mankind is bad, ignorant, rebellious, wayward, and useless. We are all in need of a savior.

Therefore, we must all admit, there is something deeply wrong with us. This understanding makes satisfying the fact that God who knows all of our flaws to the deepest level, still says to us, "I love you." This is what God has done for us in sending His Son to pay the penalty for our sin. All of this bad news that Paul has given and will yet give about our true condition is great news because this understanding redirects us to God who has provided the remedy. The only question that remains is: Will you receive the remedy which is the application of God's righteousness freely given to all who choose to trust in Christ?


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Romans 3:1-8


What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) 6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? 7 For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just. ~ Romans 3:1-8

Today, we transition into Romans 3 where the Apostle Paul continues to help us to see inside the courtroom of God. It is in this courtroom that all mankind was found guilty before God for violating His truth. There is no one who escapes the penalty for this rebellion. The theme of Romans is the gospel, the good news that sinful man can be made right before God. And, the way we are made right before God is through the imputation of God's perfection through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

In v.1 of today's passage we read, "What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?"

Beginning in this verse the Apostle asks a series of rhetorical questions which was a method that was familiar to the rabbis of that day. This is known to be the Socratic method taught and used by Socrates to pose a question and then provide the answer. Having devoted the previous chapter explaining the purpose of the Old Testament practice of circumcision, the Apostle Paul begins here to put forth the advantage the Jew had in light of the teaching behind that of circumcision. 

In v.2-4 the Apostle begins to provide the answer to the question he posed in v.1. In v.2-4 of today's passage we read, 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.”

The advantages the Jews had were many, including having been given the very words of God. But, they along the way chose not to believe in the truths that God gave them. In fact, they were known not to believe in and thus be defined by God. The history of the Jews is a history of failure from the golden calf when they first got delivered out of Egypt all the way through to and especially when it came to the arrival of the Lord Jesus as their Messiah. 

The point is that God does not grant salvation to anyone based upon our heritage or religion. No, God grants salvation to the one whom the word of God has done its work in. And, the fact that the Jews did not believe does not negate the promises that God made to them, because though we see a hardness now, that is just temporary. In fact, the Apostle Paul later in Romans 9-11, makes it clear that even though they have largely pushed away from the God of the promises, the fulfillment of all of those promises will come. The fulfillment has only been put on pause for now. Paused but not prevented.  

At the end of v.4 the Apostle Paul quotes Psalm 51:4 which was written by David after he had sinned with Bathsheba. And he was eventually heartbroken because of it. After David wrote, "Against you and you only have I sinned and committed this great wickedness in your sight," he wrote, "That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged." This means God is always right in His judgment of our sin. He has to be, otherwise, He would not be God, the arbiter of the truth.

In v.5-7 of today's passage we read, "5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) 6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? 7 For if the truth of God has increased through my life to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?"

The next rhetorical question challenges the credibility of God. To this rebuttal, the Apostle makes the point that if God were not righteous in His judgement of sin, there would be no way of stopping the destructive advancement of human evil in this world. The fact is, sin never glorifies God. Sin always undermines the truth and it always delivers evil results. This is why the Apostle wrote in Galatians 6:8, "If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life."

In v.8 of today's passage we read, "And why not say, 'Let us do evil that good may come?'—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just."

Paul's logical conclusion to the rebuttal is: the absence of a holy God judging the wretched sinfulness of man would allow moral chaos and anarchy to go unchecked and nobody could judge anything. We simply would be plunged into a tremendous abyss of immorality in which anybody could do anything, and nobody would dare to raise a hand in opposition. This would produce moral anarchy. This merely proves that God is right to judge our sin. It proves that He is just and His condemnation of sin is in keeping with His perfect character.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Romans 2:25-29


"25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 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. 
~ Romans 2:25-29

Today, we conclude our study of Romans 2 where the Apostle Paul is in the middle of ushering all mankind into the courtroom of God and showing that we are all guilty and deserving of the punishment of Hell. It is not until we see our smallest sin as violent rebellion against a totally loving God that we begin to appreciate His grace.

In today's passage, the Apostle introduces the subject of circumcision. In fact, he repeats the word ten times in this section in which he makes the point that the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. In fact, in the Bible, God mentions the heart almost 1,000 times. It is obviously one of His biggest concerns.

In v.25-26 of today's passage we read, "25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?"

Long before God gave to Moses the Law, He gave to Abraham the object lesson of circumcision. God gave it to be a daily reminder that He is committed to the one who is dependent upon Him. God did this long before Abraham ever showed even an ounce of commitment to Him. But, the Jews misconstrued circumcision by making it the unique mark of the biological Jew. This is why God makes a distinction in the Bible, particularly in the book of Galatians, between the biological Jew and the spiritual Jew. To God, circumcision was a physical practice that was to lead to a lesson for the human heart. God gave the Jews this object lesson to remind them that their love for God has to always be in response to His love for them. And, as long as it was kept in that sequence, it worked, because God's love for us will always melt our hearts if we understand it aright. 

God has never intended there to be a connection between circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses. Circumcision was meant to remind the believer to be separated to the Gospel of the good news that God was committed to us through Christ. So, the Apostle Paul, here in v.25, gave us a formula to help us understand his point: Circumcision without perfect and complete obedience to the Law equals uncircumcision. This means that we miss the point of the object lesson if we make its message contingent upon our obedience to God's Law. This is due to the fact that if we break any point of the Law, we are guilty of it all. 

The wedding ring is a good illustration behind the point of circumcision. The wedding ring is honorable as long as there is faithfulness in the marriage. But, if unfaithfulness enters, the ring which is an object lesson to the one wearing it, is just a piece of metal. In that context, the ring becomes an outward object that does not speak of an inward reality. Throughout the Bible the root to our problems is our hearts. And, if our hearts are not involved, no amount of obedience can merit God's favor.

In v.27 of today's passage we read, "The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker."

The Jews of Paul's day wrongfully believed that circumcision was a means to being made right before God. They treated it much like people treat baptism today. Often, when we ask people if they are going to heaven, they answer with: "I was baptized on such and such day." They do not understand the fact that no one is ever saved by observing the sacraments.  The Jews, when they lost their heart for God, supposed that circumcision had the power to save them. It did not, because it was always a picture of God putting His ring on the index finger of the believer. It was meant to be a reminder of His faithfulness to us.

In addition to this, Paul is reminding the heartless ones that the obedience of an uncircumcised Gentile is proof of the responsibility of a circumcised Jew to be honest with himself and with God. The absence of honesty always wrecks any relationship. Honesty is an affront to the root of all sin which is covetousness. This explains why confession is so big with God.

In v.28-29 of today's passage we read, "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."

The Apostle makes a clear distinction between the physical Jew and the Jew with a heart for God. The phrase: "Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God" is a play on words. The word "praise" is taken from the word "Judah," from which we get the word "Jew." This word can also mean "thank you." I find it most interesting and instructive that man first went wrong because he lacked gratitude in his heart with reference to God. This underscores Paul's point which is: Nothing outward makes someone a Jew. Even Abraham was a Gentile before he became a Jew. And, one becomes a Jew when his heart is engaged with God and that engagement renders gratitude to God.  

The Jews of Paul's day arrived wrongly upon the object lesson of circumcision. They fell into the trap of thinking that God looks at the performance, as if we could earn His favor. They thought, "If we go through the motions, we will be right with God." They lacked the understanding that gratitude is the seed bed of acceptable obedience. This is why God draws our attention to the heart in this passage. When we get our hearts right, when we are honest with ourselves and with God, we will be honest about our utter desperation for His grace. In this case, honesty enlightens us because it enables us to see that our righteousness is as filthy rags before a holy and just God. This is what makes God's grace so great, and, this is what changes us from the inside out.

When we do not operate out of God's grace, self takes over. This leads us to be defined by our flesh which causes us to accentuate our works over our heart response to the grace of God. And, when we operate out of a performance-oriented mindset we see repentance as something we do as a result of something we have done. It is our attempt to fix our sinful and broken selves. It is an atoning for our sin. In contrast, faith-based repentance is always done in response to something God has done. It's the change that happens in our hearts and minds when we have encountered God and His marvelous grace.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Romans 2:17-24

Click here for the Romans 2:17-24 PODCAST

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” ~ Romans 2:17-24

Today, we return to our study of the book of Romans where the Apostle Paul is in the middle of addressing the arrogance of the privileged Jews. In today's passage, the Apostle lists four things that the Jews of his day were privileged to have: First, they were given the Law of God. Second, they were instructed by God. Third, they knew the will of God. Fourth, they understood God's morality. 

We all struggle with measuring our value by the wrong things. In fact, we all measure our value by our performance plus what others think of our performance. The one who relies on his performance is the one who sees his problem and sets out to fix it himself. The problem is, he can't solve his problem. Although he has accomplished a lot of good things in his life, he still has a problem: he has a million more good things to do and he does not have enough time during his lifetime to do them. And then, add to this the fact that these folks to whom Paul wrote were so arrogant that they were holding others to a standard that they themselves could not attain. This is the backdrop to today's passage.

In v.17-20 of today's passage we read, "17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth."

The word "Jew" comes from the name "Judah" which means praise or "thank you." The benefits to living a life of thanks are nearly endless. Those who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for, experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

When we lose sight of God's definition of us, we are in great danger of being defined by sin and self. The Jews to whom Paul wrote this book had a problem with pride. These type of people are those who are always ready to correct others without as much as taking inventory of their own lives and the changes needed therein. 

Throughout v.17-20 the Apostle uses the word "if" which denotes that good behavior on the behalf of those who believe the truth of God's word is not automatic. In order for us to realize the truth and the blessedness of the Scriptures, there must be fertile soil within our hearts. 

In Romans 1:1 the Apostle wrote, "Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God." 

In order for us to be defined by God, we must be separated to the gospel of God, especially since the gospel is the greatest news of all time. To be separated to the gospel means we must be separated from other things, like the arrogance and pride and self. It also means we must live in and out of God's favor which we do not deserve. It means we must be defined by God as His beloved. Humility grows in this soil.

In v.21-23 of today's passage we read, "21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?"

Those who are defined by their pride are just as guilty as those described in Romans 1 whom they look down upon. These to whom Paul wrote this book were guilty of not living up to God's law themselves. Of course, this is the case for all of us. Since the hypocrite has lost sight of examining himself, he looks down upon and criticizes others. And, one glaring omission is that they never correct or instruct themselves. Paul's obvious point here is that it is not enough to hear God’s word; one must also apply the truth and be humbled by it. When we are self-examining, an inward change is possible and it can render the goal God had in mind when He gave us His word.

In these verses the Apostle highlights the sins of stealing, adultery, idolatry and dishonoring God. The Law is divided into three sections: the moral law, the ceremonial law, and the civil law. The moral law is how the Jews were to live, the ceremonial law is how the Jews were to worship and approach God, and the civil law contains how the Jews were to function as a nation and as a society. In these verses the Apostle Paul referred these to whom he wrote to the moral law.

In v.24 of today's passage we read, "God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

In this verse the Apostle quoted Isaiah 52:5. There is a note of intended sarcasm in this verse, as in the previous verses. The Jews who were supposed to lead the blind to God, were actually blaspheming God in front of the blind. They were supposed to be light to those in darkness, but they were blaspheming God to those in darkness. They were supposed to correct the foolish and teach the immature, but they were blaspheming the name of God by their superficial religion.

The problem the Jews had was they had adopted a religion of selective rule-keeping. They did not have a religion of the heart, but only that of an external facade. Their hearts had experienced very little change if any. They had stiff-armed God and kept Him at a distance. They lacked conviction of sin, repentance, and they saw no need for humility. They had a religion of convenience, where they were not disturbed by God. They had been entrusted with the blessings of God, but they kept those blessings to themselves. They did not allow the truth to penetrate into the depths of their souls. And, it was out of that posture that they indirectly blasphemed the name of God.

To only know about God without coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ leaves one condemned in his sin. We must be born again to know the life the Lord Jesus died to give us. Once we have entered into a personal relationship with God, we must be intent upon being defined by His word. Our lives should reflect the truth that we share with others. May we have the wisdom to resist being like the arrogant, who know God’s word with their minds only. May we be those with hearts that have encountered the living God.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Romans 2:12-16


"12 
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. ~ Romans 2:12-16

Today, we return to our study of Romans 2 where the Apostle  Paul is addressing those who openly resist and refuse the gospel by self-righteously condemning those who openly reject God. Up til this point in Romans all efforts at salvation have been from earth upwards. Through his own efforts man has inflated his balloon with hot air but to no avail was he able to get it off the ground. 

In v.12-13 of today's passage we read, "12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous."

One way that we discover the main theme in any passage is to look for the repeatedly used words. You will notice that the word  "law" is repeatedly used in this section. And remember that the Apostle Paul is primarily writing to those who were under the law. These were Jewish people who had trusted in Christ as their Savior. 

Given our sinful human condition, the role that the Law of God serves is to crush us underneath its perfection. And anyone who tries to measure up to God's Law experiences a beat down spiritually because of his inability to hold up under it. And, for most of the Jews of Paul's day, they simply ignored this reality and created a new reality. Their new reality led them further and further away from the truth into the realm of the dishonest.

Today, the Apostle brings us to the unenlightened pagan. These are those who have not heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus. The point that the Apostle makes in today's text is that they still have the messages sent from God to them through creation and their conscience. Their problem is that they have resisted the revelation that God has given to all mankind. They have defiled their consciences by giving in to the way of the fallen one, going the way of self. Here, the Apostle establishes the argument that these will be judged because they will have no payment for the penalty of their sin.

In Romans 2:2 we read, "But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things."

God discriminates according to truth. That means He is realistic and He only deals with that which is actually there according to the truth. God does not falsely accuse anyone, but he judges according to truth. And, if we do not have a Savior, our sin has not been paid for. And, if this is the case, we will stand judged before God in the end.

In Romans 2:26 we read, "Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?"

God always sees what is going on in the heart of a man. He always judges on that basis. When man responds to the revelation about God in one way, God always gives him more revelation in other ways. God waits patiently until the heart of that man changes.  And, He does not give up on anyone, even after they have given up on Him.

This means that God will say to man, "What did you think was right and wrong?" By that standard, of course, everyone fails. This is why the Apostle wrote in v.12, "All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law." 

The fact that some have never heard the Ten Commandments, or anything else that is in the Bible, does not mean that they are going to be acceptable in God's sight. They will perish, not because they did not hear, but because they did not respond to the revelation that God has given to all mankind, and, as a result, they did not know what was right.  

Then the Apostle accurately points out that there is a great difference between hearing and obeying or responding to any message that God has given. Ultimately, it is a matter of the heart, as to whether we are willing within to go with God.

In v.14-15 of today's passage we read, "14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)"
 
Paul's argument is there is a day coming when God will judge the secrets of men everywhere and all that is hidden will be revealed. Now, there were some in Paul's day who said that because the Jews possessed the Law and knew God's truth, they would not be condemned by God. But, one's knowledge of the truth is not what saves him. No, what saves us is the object of our faith. And, not just any object. It must be the sacrifice made on the cross by the Lord Jesus. He is the only Savior there is or ever will be. 

Then, there are those who say that if people have not heard they will be saved. No, because if that were the case, then everyone would be saved. According to the Bible, only those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus as Savior will enter into heaven because all men have the truth written in their hearts. And, if someone has not responded to the general revelation that God has given everyone in creation and through our consciences then they will not know the contents of the Bible. They, therefore, will not know the gospel.

In v.16 of today's passage we read, "This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares."

God requires perfect obedience to His truth in order for any of us to be right and acceptable in His presence. He can not just wink at sin and let us all go free. His perfection demands and requires the penalty for our sin to be paid for. If He did not do that, His perfection would be undermined. And, no mere man can be perfect in his obedience to the truth. Those who hope that when they die that God will allow them into heaven because their good behavior outweighs their bad, have a rude awakening coming. This is why the Law of God was given to us, to drive home to us the idea that we can not be good enough because perfection is the requirement. And, of course, this is why the Lord Jesus came to earth to live a perfect life and to die a perfect death on our behalf.


When we get to the day when God judges all mankind the question will be on what basis should God allow us entry into heaven. If we resisted the free gift of Christ on our behalf, it will be at that moment that we will have to face the wrath of God for ourselves. This will be senseless because God has made the way for you to know that your sin has been forgiven you. Will you, in this moment, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? I hope you will consider the ABC's of salvation and trust Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sin. Simply tell God that you are a sinner, confess to Him your need for Him to be your Savior, and trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross to make you right and acceptable before God.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Romans 2:5-11

Click here for the Romans 2:5-11 PODCAST

5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. ~ Romans 2:5-11

Today, we return to our study of Romans 2 where the Apostle Paul is bringing everyone into God's court of law in order to show us that we are all guilty of falling short of His glory. In today's passage, the Apostle has turned the page from those who have rejected God and His truth to those who judge them. The problem with this second group is that they are just as guilty before God as those who practice ungodliness. These in today's passage are just as guilty as those whom they judge. These are guilty of something those who they judge are not: hypocrisy.

In v.5 of today's passage we read, "But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."

Beginning in v.1 of this chapter, the Apostle Paul turns his attention on those who are moral, but, they do not have a personal relationship with God. These are those who appear to be right with God but they look down their noses at those who act on their sinfulness in more degrading ways than they do.

In this verse the Apostle pinpoints the problem of these who judge others: their hard and impenitent heart. The Greek word translated "hard" here is the word from which we get our English word sclerosis. Anyone with sclerosis of any kind is on his way to death. Spiritually speaking, the Apostle is referencing the self-righteous, moral man, who thinks he sits in judgment with God on his throne with Him. 

The word translated "impenitent" describes someone who has yet entered into a personal relationship with God for if they had they would not be judging the sinfulness of others. To be impenitent is to feel not one ounce of shame for our judgement of others. Those who have been forgiven offer forgiveness to others not condemnation.

The word "treasuring" means this type of person is constantly making self destructive deposits into their own ledger which one day will come due. These types of people think that their supposed morality is a kind of a bargain with God who they think has said, "If you keep a lot of rules, I'll reward your goodness." This is not the case because God righteously judges us all, and, His judgement of our sinfulness shows no respecter of persons. The only thing that enables us to avoid the wrath of God is the gospel of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In v.6-7 of today's passage we read, "6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality."

God's judgment of us all will be based on how we stack up against the truth. This is why in John 14:6 the Lord Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me." 

The two Old Testament passages that Paul quotes here, Psalm 62:12 and Proverbs 24:12, both are passages that warn against pride. The way we live our lives reveals what we value. Those who are being defined by God and His culture demonstrate that they value God. Thus, they will be rewarded with what they were seeking: life with God. Those whose disobedience to God demonstrates their selfish ambition, their pride will face His wrath.

The Apostle Paul makes his presentation as he does here to show that no man can produce the "deeds" worthy of God's forgiveness. In fact, this is the direction the book of Romans is going. In order for us to be declared forgiven, we must first be declared guilty. Eternal life only goes to those who trust in the perfect God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. God, at tremendous cost, provided for the believer the only way to avoid His wrath. It is realized by those who give up on our efforts to earn His favor. This is why the Lord Jesus implored us to lose our lives. It is when we submit to the death of our ambitions to measure up to the truth, which we can not do, that we find eternal life only in the Lord Jesus Christ and His merit.

In v.8-9 of today's passage we read, "8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek."

The real problem of sinful and rebellious man is himself. It is the worship of ourselves that prevents us from seeking the God of truth. In fact, when we worship ourselves, we go the way of Satan, the one whose title means "one who opposes." And, here we see the conflict between God's righteous indignation and the moral man's unrighteous indignation. 

For those without the heart change that is rendered when we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God's indignation, God's wrath, tribulation, and anguish await him. Sinfulness has a price tag and it is only the perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ that can cash that price tag in for our rightness before the holy God.

In v.10-11 of today's passage we read, "10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God."

There is coming a day when God will welcome the righteous into His heaven and the unrighteous will go to hell. The difference will be that the ones who will enter into heaven were those who sought. They sought God's glory, honor, and peace, not their own. We do not read in v.10 that they deserved it. No, what we discover is they just sought God. And, as a result, they will be rewarded by the proof of the righteousness that had been applied to them through believing in Christ as their Savior. The hearts of those who seek God will enjoy His peace, honor, and glory. And, the only favorites God has are those who believed in His One and Only Begotten Son who shares His glory with all humble enough to cry out to Him for help.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Romans 2:1-4


1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? ~ Romans 2:1- 4

Today, we transition into Romans 2 where we find ourselves in the middle of the Apostle Paul's scathing description of the unsaved man. When man rejected the true God he had nowhere else to turn but to himself, and, when man turns to worshipping himself, he inevitably ends up in destruction.

In v.1 of today's passage, we read, "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things."

Whenever we encounter a "therefore" in the Scriptures, we must always ask, "what it is there for?" Having described those who rejected the truth of God and the God of truth in Romans 1, the Apostle Paul turns our attention to those who pass judgment on those who deserve Hell. The people Paul describes here in today's passage were moral people who looked down their nose on those who had just been described in Romans 1:19-32. 

Anyone who sits in the seat of moral judgment proves he is inexcusable if he can condemn other people, since he knows the standard, and, in reality, does the same thing, even if in a secret and hidden fashion. No one can escape the penalty of his sin on his own. Especially can the moral man not escape the judgement of God, because he has been exposed to the standard and to the goodness of God. Morality and spirituality are not one in the same.

We are really good at pointing out other people's faults while we ourselves have those faults ourselves. We all find it very easy to point out others sin, but we hope others do not see ours. In the context of all of this, we forget that we can not possibly know what's going on in other people's hearts. Only God can do that. We tend to be hard on others and soft on ourselves when it comes to passing judgment. The self-confident moralist hopes that God will grade him on a curve. But, the obvious truth is we are all deserving of Hell.

In v.2-3 of today's passage we read, "2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?" 

God judges based upon the truth which does not change. And, God judges also on the basis of our practice. This word "practice" denotes that the sins listed at the end of the previous chapter are descriptive of the person's lifestyle. The Apostle Paul was not writing about those who have temporary slip-ups with said sins. He was addressing those whose lifestyle is regularly described by those sins. He was addressing those who had rejected God and His truth.

The fact that God judged the Lord Jesus while He hung on the cross on the basis of the truth, underscores the preciousness of that voluntary act done by the Lord on our behalf. If He had not gone to the cross and be made sin for us, we would have absolutely no hope. But, since the Lord Jesus did, we can escape the judgement of God by depending upon His work on that cross for the forgiveness of our sin.

In v.4 of today's passage we read, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"

It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, to turn away from self to be defined by Him. God's goodness, tolerance, and patience are exhibited by the fact that He gives us the chance to own up to our utter wickedness, to confess our need of Him and the depend upon His Son's death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin. And, once we do that, we should not be judgmental of others.

Kindness is a better way to explain God's goodness here, because it is not goodness as opposed to badness. It is that He is good in the sense of being benevolent, generous, merciful, and kind. God does not just see our sinful deeds, He also sees our sinful condition. We have to see all our life in this respect. A faithful God, judging the inner part of our lives gives us these opportunities. He knows we are blind to our sinfulness. He knows that we often struggle at recognizing what is wrong in our lives, and so He gives us these opportunities to turn away from self and to turn to Him. These moments of truth are very important.

The repentance the Apostle Paul writes about here is repentance from our way, dependence upon self. The man who equates spirituality with morality does not get what it is really all about. He sees himself sharing the throne with God. He sees Himself as earning God's favor. But there is a problem with sharing the throne with God. We can't! We are still flawed and not consistent with "the Truth." And if we have experienced the kindness of God, we will not be judgemental. 

Have you ever noticed that we do not judge the ones we love? It bears to reason, when we judge, we have a love problem. This is why in Romans 5 the Apostle Paul writes about the love of God being poured out in our hearts. This is Paul's argument and he is nailing the Jewish Christians in Rome with his words "But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger."

Finally, it appears that that Paul is saying that we earn our salvation, but as we have pointed out over and over before, how much goodness on our behalf is enough to merit God's favor? Of course, the answer is we can not be good enough. We will see that the key to our rightness with God is not the amount or quality of our goodness but the object of our faith in His goodness that makes us right with God.