Romans 3:6

“By no means!  For then how could God judge the world?”

Paul answers the objection to judgment upon the Jews.  Quite simply, he answers that if God doesn’t judge the Jews, he can’t judge the Gentiles.  That means everyone gets off free from punishment for their sins. 

If God allows that to happen, he is not just.  If he’s not just, he can’t be love.  For love demands justice occur.  If everyone gets away with their ins unpunished, God is not God. 

The world is then in chaos.  Everyone lives as they wish.  Evil prospers.

This thought can’t even be entertained by Paul.  It shouldn’t be tenable for any thoughtful person.

We all have sinned and will one day face God’s judgment.  That can be life’s only fair position.

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Romans 3:5

“But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say?  That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us?  (I speak in a human way).”

Paul thinks some may draw a false implication from what he is saying.  He sees some objecting that sinners are being unjustly judged by God because they can’t respond to God’s grace because of their great sin.

Paul’s answer to this objection will be unfolded in greater detail in Romans 9-11.  But his short answer is this one: this position is untenable.  His judgment is upon evil behavior whether Jew or Gentile.  If he didn’t judge the Jew, he could not judge the Gentile.  Then judgment could never occur.

That means sin wins.

And that cannot happen with God, ever!  His justice demands judgment for all!

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Romans 3:4

“By no means!  Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is is written: ‘That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

Paul further develops the fact that God is faithful even when many Jews were not.  Every person is a liar.  All have sinned and fall short of God’s perfect holiness.  Paul even quotes from Psalm 52:4 to prove his point.  God is true.  He is faithful. 

Therefore, his judgment upon unbelieving Jews (and everyone around the world) is justified.  No one will ever be able to argue with God on how he judges all.  He is perfect.  We are not.  How can we object?

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Romans 3:3 

“What if some were unfaithful?  Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?”

Many of the Jews were unfaithful to the law of God and did not trust and obey him.  Does this mean that God will not fulfill his covenant promises made in oracles to save them?  Of course not!  God is still faithful to save the Jews.  Paul is an evidence of it.

Every individual must make that decision himself.  Some reject Jesus.  Others receive him.  But just because some reject him does not mean God is not faithful to save people. 

He does so every day, in every nation, throughout the world.

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Romans 3:2

“Much in every way.  To begin with , the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.”

Paul is now answering the “advantage” question of verse 1.  What advantage does a Jew have in trying to earn salvation?  

Paul does list one very significant advantage a Jew would have over a Gentile concerning salvation: the oracles of God.  They are the Old Testament Scriptures, given by God to Israel.  There are verses throughout the Old Testament giving promises on how God was going to save Israel.

That is an advantage over the Gentiles of the day in trying to see and understand salvation.

We have these oracles plus the New Testament.  It’s another reason why people today are without excuse in salvation.  Ignorance of God’s truth is not an excuse before him one day.  His Word is here and available.

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Romans 3:1

“Then what advantage has the Jew?  Or what is the value of circumcision?” 

Paul has been arguing that the Holy Spirit’s inward work of creating new hearts in Gentiles makes them more Jewish than Jews simply trying to obey the Law.  The logical question that should follow is, “Well, then, what is the value of salvation for a Jew in terms of eternal life?" 

It’s a question for all of us to ponder too: What value is there in trying to work our way to salvation?  The answer is, “None!”  God is perfectly holy.  We are not.   Our vain attempts to obey the law show how imperfect and fallen we really are.

Therefore, we desperately need a Savior who changes us from the inside/out.  That’s the work of the Holy Spirit.  That was the source of Paul’s question.

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Romans 2:28

“For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.”

When God made a covenant with Abraham, it was a covenant of the heart.  Abraham gave his entire life to God in obedience to whatever he would ask. God then gave Abraham promises that would give him a son but also bless every generation in the future of the world.

Circumcision then followed Abraham and his descendants as an outward sign of the inward reality of the covenant.  

Paul is saying that just the outward sign alone does not make someone Jewish.  Circumcision is not just outward or physical.  It’s something that happens to the heart.  All the “foreskin” of sin are cut away from the new believer.  Old things are made new.  Obedience to God becomes the desire of the circumcised heart. 

Obedience proves there’s a new heart.

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Romans 2:27 

“Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.” 

If a person is not circumcised, someone who does not have God’s outward sign of his inward covenant, yet he obeys God’s law, he is better than the person who has the law, is circumcised but doesn’t obey God’s law.

Every parent knows that a child’s obedience proves his love for the parent.  The same is true for our heavenly Father.  If you love him, you obey his commandments.  All outward, religious notoriety is useless. 

God desires an obedient heart.

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Romans 2:26 

“So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?”

Circumcision or uncircumcision isn’t what’s important to Paul.  It’s an outward sign.  Paul was much more concerned with the inward heart that leads to obedience.

Someone once said,”The proof is in the pudding.”  The proof of the heart’s condition is whether it desires to obey what God has said.

Obedience to God’s law is the proof of faith in God’s law.

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Romans 2:25

“For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.” 

Circumcision was another evidence of Jews that they were specially chosen by God.  Paul says it is a noteworthy sign of God’s inward, covenant promise to them.  However, he also says it’s worthless if they don’t obey the law.  If they break the law, circumcision is useless. 

Don’t rely upon outward appearances to signal righteousness.  If your heart is right with God, you will obey the laws of God.

It’s that simple.

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Romans 2:24

“For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 

When God formed the Jews, he was forming a nation after his heart.  It would be a people who loved, served and obeyed their God.  They would be holy, as their God is holy.  The law of God was especially given to them to show their and his holiness.  His name would be honored when other nations saw his people obeying his laws and serving God with all their hearts, souls, minds and might. 

But they didn’t.  They lived like the nations surrounding them.  Therefore, God’s name was blasphemed among the Gentiles.  They could not see God’s covenant call upon his people. 

All who say they love God carry his name in us.  The unbelieving world looks to our lives to see if God’s name is honored or not. 

Do you blaspheme or honor God’s name in your life?

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Romans 2:23

“You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.”

The Jews thought the law of God was their salvation.  They thought since God had especially given it to them, they were secure in his love.

Yet the very law they boasted having as a special gift from God, they continually broke.  By doing so, they dishonor the very God they say they love so much!

Our hearts are deceitful and wicked.  We are so easily fooled to think we have God’s approval.  We wrongly think we are righteous before a perfect and holy God.

We all desperately need a Savior.

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Romans 2:22 

“You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” 

Robbing temples was a common crime throughout the world.  The temples housed expensive artifacts that could be sold for profit.  Paul must be pointing out to Jews the danger of coveting, the last of the 10 Commandments.  Perhaps they didn’t commit adultery, but Jesus had pointed out most all have, because adultery begins in the human heart.

Paul is trying to point out the true condition of the human heart to the Jews.  He wants them to realize they need a Savior.

We all do.  Sin begins in the heart.  The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.

What’s the condition of your heart today?  The moral law will give you clues.  Put your life against the 10 Commandments.  It will be very revealing.

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Romans 2:21 

“—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?  While you preach against stealing, do you steal?”

This is the real problem with the Jews.  They loved the law.  They thought it was God’s precious gift to them, as it was.  But they didn’t practice it.  They failed to obey it.

If all of us were serious and did an examination of our lives before the holy law of God, the 10 Commandments, we’d see how woefully we fall short of all its demands.  It would show the true condition of our hearts.

It would show us we need a Savior.

Would you be courageous enough today to do this examination?

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Romans 2:20 

“…an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—“

The law of God is beautiful.  It instructs the foolish.  It teaches children how to live righteously.  It is the absolute embodiment of all knowledge and truth.

But just because it was given to the Jews doesn’t mean the Jew won’t face the judgement seat of God.  The law is a blessing.  It has so many qualities and benefits.  But it can’t save.  It holds no power to give eternal life to one group over another.

That was Paul’s message to the Jews.  And to us.  We are only saved by the grace of God through Jesus.  We are only saved by his grace, not through the works of the law.

Do you believe this?  It’s a very important question to answer!

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Romans 2:19 

“and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness…”

The Jews were sure they would not face the day of judgment.  They were certain they were specially chosen by God, a guide to the blind Gentiles, a light to sinners living in darkness.

And they were!  God chose them to be a light to the nations.  They did have a moral excellence given to them.  The law was meant to be used to instruct all people everywhere, not just the Jews.

But the law and the light it brings will not prevent all from facing the judgment of God.  

It’s something we all need to ponder regularly.  It should affect how we live our lives.

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Romans 2:18

“…and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law;" 

Many Jews felt they’d never face the judgement of God because they strove for excellence in what was instructed in the law.

Yes, the law is good, righteous and pure.  The Jews do have a special gift from God.  The law can even be used as a powerful instrument to instruct Gentiles on God’s moral qualities, revealed uniquely to the Jews.

But this special favor does not keep them from having to face the righteousness of God at the judgment.  Everyone must do so, despite any kind of special privilege God may have given.

It’s a reminder to us all: are we ready to meet our Maker at the day of judgment?

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Romans 2:17 

"But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God…”

Jews boasted in their divine election.  They thought since God first called them above all the other nations on the earth, that they would never have to face his judgment.  They thought since they had God’s law, uniquely given to them, they’d never have to face the judgment of God.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!  God’s judgment comes on all, the Jew and Greek.  Nothing can protect us on that great day of judgment.  For the Jew, the law and election can’t.  For all others, our good works or familial or national heritage can.  We are all sinners in need to God’s grace. 

Do you understand the importance of this truth today?

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Romans 2:16

“…on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

“On that day,” there is a day of judgment, Paul says.  It’s the bad news of the gospel given to Paul.  We are all sinners.  And on that day, all the secrets we try so hard to keep others from seeing will be revealed and seen by Jesus.  Nothing will be hidden from him.

The only way to prevent the horror of this thought is to receive the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ.  When we do, we ask him to pierce our hearts and have him reveal any secret, hidden sins within.  Then he washes them away, as far as the east is from the west.  He remembers them no more.

That’s the good news that thwarts the bad news in the gospel of Jesus Christ given to Paul…and to us.

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Romans 2:15

“They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…”

God has the right to judge everyone on the earth.  He can discern who has been evil in his sights.  How?  God’s law is written on every person’s heart.  Their consciences tell them what is right and wrong.  It’s a perfect moral guide within them.  The very fact that people have conflicting moral thoughts about their behavior shows there is a right moral way to live written within. 

People sometimes use these conflicting moral thoughts to excuse themselves from wrong-doing.  But the very existence of this conflict bears witness to moral truth and therefore people must be held accountable to God.

 All are without excuse to their evil before a holy God.  Our moral consciences prove it.  This reality alone should cause all to kneel before a holy God and seek forgiveness for our sins.

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