Inevitable Questions

Romans 3:1-18


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

Father, we pray for Your continued wisdom and understanding, as we look at Your word. We thank You that we have Your word in our language; we have it in multiple different translations; in soft cover, and hard cover, and goat skin, and all kinds of different Bible translations. Lord, what an awesome thing, to be able to study Your word. But, Lord, having the abundance of Your word doesn’t mean that Your word will penetrate into our hearts. So we pray that You would cause it to do so. Lord, that Your word, which is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, that it would be effective in our lives today, to transform us more and more into Your image, that we would reflect You in the world in which we live. Speak to us and teach by Your Spirit, we pray, for we ask this in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people agreed, saying, “Amen.”

You can be seated.

Over the last several weeks, as we’ve been going through the first couple chapters of the book of Romans, we have seen that Paul, in this letter, which is a doctrinal primer to train new Christians, his discipleship manual to equip people, for Paul recognized that his call in ministry, and really the call of everyone who serves in any capacity in ministry, is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. That’s what he says in Ephesians, chapter 4, so our calling is to make sure that people are mature in Christ, that they’re raised up to be disciples of Christ, not mere converts, and followers of Jesus. And so he’s writing this letter to a group of believers in the city of Rome, where a church was being newly established, and it was filled, primarily, with people who were of a Gentile background, they were not Jewish. But in their midst were also Jews, and Paul, I believe, knew that this letter he was writing was going to have a much larger expanse, or spread, it was going to touch more people than just those that were at Rome. The way in which he wrote it was to be a doctrinal primer; to teach us, the eight chapters, to teach us what we are to believe; and then chapters 12 through 15, to teach us how we are to live, what we are to do; and there in the midst of that, chapters 9 through 11, Paul is dealing with the issue that was growing and was at hand in the early church, this issue between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians – a racial, cultural divide. And so he addresses that in that passage.

Now there was, among many people who came from a Jewish background into the faith of Christ, there was a view that, “Well, of course, you know, we are going to be saved, we’re the descendants of Abraham, God’s chosen people.” And we looked at this last week, in the second half of Romans, chapter 2, where Paul makes it very, very clear that every single human being, whether they are descendants of Abraham, Jews, by their heritage, or not, every single human being has the same problem – we are all sinners. “There is none righteous, no, not one,” as we see in this very chapter that we’re in, Romans, chapter 3, verse 10 says that: “There is none that does good; there is none that seeks after God. They have all gone away,” astray, “they are together become unprofitable.” And so Paul has made very clear that both Jews and Gentiles are sold under sin. And being the lawyer that Paul was, that’s really what he was, he was a doctor of the law, a Pharisee, a Jewish sect there in the land of Israel that were very passionate about, not only God’s law, but also the applications of God’s law in the form of traditions of the people in the nation of Israel. So, knowing what he knew about Jewish people who would look at this, knowing what he knew about himself, coming out of that background, he now addresses what would be the inevitable questions. The inevitable questions that a Jewish individual would ask after Paul says, “Listen, it doesn’t matter that you’re a descendant of Abraham, and that you’re circumcised according to the covenant, that you have the covenants and promises in the law of God, you still, on the day of judgment, are going to stand before God as someone who is lost in your sins.  And so Paul recognized, as he’s preaching this, that there are going to be questions that spring out of that. And so here in these first verses of chapter 3, he’s addressing those inevitable questions, those things that would come up in the minds of his hearers that came from a Jewish background. And so he says there, in the beginning of chapter 3, verse 1, he asks the question that someone would ask from Jewish heritage, he says, “Well then what is the advantage of being a Jew, and what is the profit of circumcision?” If you’re saying that ultimately, on the day of judgment, I have no advantage with God because of my Jewish heritage, then what does it matter; why should I be excited about being of Jewish heritage; why should that be considered a privileged position? Because Paul does speak of it as being a privileged position. And so he knows, “If you’re telling me that it means nothing of the day of Christ Jesus, when I stand before Him for judgment, then what advantage is there in being Jewish? What advantage is there in being a descendant of Abraham? And Paul answers that question in verse 2, by saying, “Much in every way!” There’s a lot of privileges, there’s great things to be advantaged, as being of a Jewish heritage. And then he says only one answer, he says, “Much and in every way!” And then he gives us one thing: “Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God,” or to them were committed the word of God. Now, I do believe that later on he comes back to this same theme: What advantage has the Jew, what is the privilege of being a descendant of Abraham? If there is not ultimate advantage in standing before God for judgment, then what does it really matter? In chapter 9, Paul’s going to come back to this point, in verses 4 and 5 especially, and he’s going to continue to explain some of the things that are privileges, that are accounted to those that are descendants of Abraham. But ultimately they have no advantage with God on the day of judgment; they have no advantage with God when they stand before God for judgment, as all humanity will. We see in the book of Hebrews, which again was written to Jewish Christians predominately, and the book of Hebrews says, “It is appointed unto man to die once, and then comes judgment.” So every human being is one day going to die. I hope that’s not bad news to you; I mean I realize that 10 out of 10 people die, and so the statistics are staggering, we’re all, we all have that end coming. And I know a lot of times people say, “Well what about the Rapture?” Praise God, we’re looking forward to that, then we won’t necessarily physically die, but we’re still going to experience an end of life here. And I don’t know about you, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Looking around, I don’t know about you, I don’t want to be here for eternity. Amen? Okay, so if you come from a faith background that says that you’re going to live on earth for eternity, that’s kind of actually a bummer. And so, and I know that some of them knock on my door from time to time.

But Paul goes on, and this was characteristic of Paul, he would say, “What advantage has the Jew, for your being a Jew?” And then he gives one thing, after saying, “Well there’s many advantages.” And then nine chapters later he comes back to and says, “Well, let me give you a few more advantages.” And so there in chapter 9, verses 4 and 5, he’s going to say, “Well, the Israelite, it pertains unto them the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law, the service of God, and the promises.” So he says there’s a number of things that are privileges that the nation of Israel has as a result of them being called, by God, from Abraham. But they don’t have any sort of privilege with God on the day of judgment, because God is not a respecter of persons; we saw that in chapter 2 of Romans, chapter 2, verse 11. So there is no respect of persons with God. There will never be a time where you stand before God, and you say, “Well, don’t you know who my grandfather was?” And God will say, “Yes I know who your grandfather was, and he’s a sinner just like you. And that’s the problem.” So, we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. And so the Jewish nation, who believed that they had a greater blessing than other nations; which they did, because Paul addresses that here. But that greater blessing did not extend to having a privileged position with God as it relates to their sin. God would not overlook their sin because they were descendants of Abraham. But they had gotten to a point where they thought that.

Now this is applicable to us, who see it here in the United States of America, who have believed for a very long time that this is a Christian nation, and that we have a great blessing from God upon our nation. “God shed His grace on thee.” Right? We sing that in our nation. And so there is the recognition, especially among evangelical Christians in America, that we sit as a privileged people. And we have been blessed in awesome ways by the King of kings, and Lord of lords. But that blessing does not mean that, when we stand before God, He’ll say, “Oh, you were an American. You’re in.” It won’t work that way. Now there’s some people who think like that. I mean even if your granddaddy is Billy Graham, it doesn’t mean anything on the day of Christ Jesus; because our salvation is one-on-one, us with God.

So, here are the descendants of Abraham will say, “Well, if your telling me that I have no privileged position with God on the day of judgment, then what is the advantage of being a Jew?” Paul says, “Well, chiefly, chiefly this, primarily this, and there are many other privileges, but primarily this.” And it’s a very important thing he says, “Unto you were committed the oracles of God.” Unto you was given, very literally, the word of God. The Jewish people had been entrusted with God’s word. And it was a trust that He had committed to them. They had a stewardship over the word of God. And as we sit here today, in December of 2012, we can at least be thankful that they were good stewards of that which God gave them, as it relates to the word of God. Because the scribes, the copyists of the nation of Israel, they were very meticulous in making sure that the word of God, which they revered as being holy, and it is, they recognized the scriptures as being so holy that they revered them in such a way that they took great care to make sure that they were copied in such a way that they would be extended for generation after generation after generation. And here we sit, thousands of years later, and we can at least be thankful for that, that unto them were committed the trust, the stewardship of God’s word, and they stewarded that well. They took care of what was given to them. Now how then is it an advantage that they had the word of God? Why did Paul see this as being a great privilege to them? Well, because of this: they had, as a result of possessing the oracles of God, the scriptures, as a result of, because they had this, they had a greater access and opportunity to believe. They had greater access and opportunity to believe. Now, again, we have a stewardship, here in our nation, because of the resources that we have, we have the word of God in our language, in many different translations; we have scholars here that have given their entire lives to making sure that we continue to have the word of God in the best form possible. So we have a stewardship over God’s word as well. And as a result of having, possessing God’s word, there’s a certain level of responsibility that we also have, as a people. There’s a certain level of responsibility before God because we have His word in our possession. Now, there are other people in the world who do not have the word of God translated into their language; they don’t know the scriptures. And God will deal accordingly with groups of people like that. And so, we recognize though that, you know, standing before God, we’ve got a lot to answer for if we stand before Him and say, “Well, You know, I just didn’t know.” Well, you had every opportunity to know. And so your lack of knowledge, your agnosticism, or your ignorance, another way of saying it, is a chosen ignorance. You’ve decided, you’ve willfully decided that you did not want to handle the word of God, and take responsibility for what God has given into your care, in your own language. So there’s no excuse before God for that. In fact, perhaps your judgment is even more swift, because you’re responsible for what you have.

One of the verses that was in the video, and this is one of the, you know, prime verses for Cross Connection Outreach, the ministry that Luke Rider oversees, is Romans, chapter 10, verse 17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So when Paul says, “Chiefly, you have a privilege,” nation of Israel, “because you have been given,” you possess the scriptures, the word of God. You have a greater opportunity and access to the word, therefore you have a greater opportunity to know God, to believe Him. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is my conviction that God has given to every man, every human being, a measure of faith. I can prove that scripturally, Romans, chapter 12, verse 3 says that exact thing. And so, in that passage, in Romans, chapter 12, we’re going to see this when we get to Romans, chapter 12, like, a ways from now; we’re going to see there that he says, “Listen, so you have faith.” Now we’re sitting in a room, filled with people, mostly you probably have faith. “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but think soberly, as God has given to every man a measure of faith,” is what Paul says in Romans, chapter 12, verse 3. So don’t think that you’re something miraculously special, that you have faith and another person doesn’t, because God has given to every man a measure of faith. So it’s my conviction that every human being that God has created, He has planted, if you will, a seed of faith in their heart. And it is sufficient faith to begin the process of believing, “without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is,” that He exists, “and He’s the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” So I believe that that measure of faith, that seed of faith that God gives, is sufficient faith to believe that He is. The awesome thing is, you know, you never really meet 4-year olds that don’t believe that God is. You meet 40-year olds who don’t believe that God is, but just about every single 4-year old that I talk to, and you start to talk to them about God, there’s kind of an “Oh duh” sort of thing. “Of course, what, are you crazy, you don’t believe in God?” I mean, little kids, understand this. Why? God’s given them a measure of faith. They understand and can comprehend, no problem, that there is Someone who created them, that made them. Because they look at things around them, and they just logically deduce, with their 4-year old brain, that things don’t just happen on their own. So they have the measure of faith. And it takes some great training to kill that measure of faith. It really does. So you find 40-year olds who deny that there is a God, but you don’t find too many 4-year olds who disagree with you that there is a God. God’s given them a measure of faith. To believe that He is, and to begin the process of diligently seeking Him, and if you diligently seek Him, He has given us a promise that He will reveal Himself to you. Now, He has revealed Himself through His word, and we have, in our nation, an abundance of the word of God. We have more access to God’s word, arguably, than any other nation in the world. It’s available, constantly, on TV, on the radio, on the Internet, which now is in most every single one of our pockets. It’s constantly available. And so we have no excuse. It we says, “Well, I don’t believe because there’s not enough evidence.” God has revealed Himself to us.

So faith has been given to us; “He’s given to every man a measure of faith.” How does that faith increase to saving faith? Because that measure of faith doesn’t immediately equal salvation. It may begin the process of us diligently seeking for the One who exists who created all things. And as we diligently seek Him, we will be directed to Him: by the inward moral law, by the law that He has given in His word; that will direct us to Him, because by the law comes the recognition that we need God, and now it reveals who He is. But again, Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So it is our belief that the word of God is like the fertilizer upon the seed of faith that causes it to germinate into salvation, unto salvation. This is why we have such a strong connection with ministries like Cross Connection Outreach, that are passionate about taking God’s word to people who haven’t heard it yet, because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This is why we are so blessed to be associated with ministries like New Tribes, and Bill and Donna Davis, who have committed their entire lives to translating God’s word into a language that did not have God’s word in it when they started, back in the early 80s. This is why we’re interested, passionate with things like Simply the Story, and the God’s Story Project, because we recognize that there are people throughout the world who cannot read, or do not read. And so they’re not going to necessarily pick this up and read through this, and the reality is Barna Research has shown that only 2% of evangelical Christians actually do read their Bible, that they have here in America; which I pretty phenomenal. So we have God’s word, but you know, even we who can read, don’t often read it. But when we do, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” because His word causes that measure of faith to grow unto salvation, saving faith. That’s why there are so many people who have come to faith in God, simply by reading the scriptures. They didn’t hear an evangelical message, they didn’t hear Billy Graham, or Greg Laurie, they just read the scriptures. And many times they’re in a crisis point, they’re sitting in a hotel room, and they open up the drawer, and there’s a little red Bible from The Gideons, and they start to read through it, and as they read through the gospel of John, they go, “Wow! I believe this. There is a God, and He’s revealed Himself to me.” This is why we reach out to people, with God’s word, as a church, through the teaching that goes on TV, on the Internet, on the radio. This is why we’re passionate about God’s word going out. We believe that God has given to every human being a measure of faith, and that faith can increase unto salvation, through the simple teaching of God’s word; through the simple reading of God’s word.

And so we want the word of God to go forth freely, because we know, we believe that God’s word “will not return void,” Isaiah, chapter 55. In fact turn there, because the passage is awesome. Isaiah 55; turn to about the middle of your Bible, you’ll be in the Psalms, and then turn the right. Isaiah 55, verse 8, there, this is God speaking through a man, the prophet Isaiah. He says this, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways your ways,’ says the Lord.” I don’t work like you do, I’m a little bit different in My dealings; a lot different actually. “’As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, the snow from heaven, and it does not return there, but it waters the earth, and it makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” So get the picture there, God’s speaking in word pictures because He knows that that how we work best. He says, “The rain, it goes down and it drops…, the clouds go forth, it drops rain upon the earth, and the earth brings forth and buds, and it brings seed to the sower, bread to the eater. So we got that in our minds. Okay, we understand that. Going on, verse 11, “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth.” So His word is like the rain, “it shall not return unto to Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I send it.” So, God’s word is like the rain, the rain goes out, waters the earth, it brings forth so that we can eat. God’s word goes forth like rain, and it’s going to produce fruit; it’s going to accomplish what He sent it forth to do. So that’s God word, without anything of our involvement. It is effective, it will not return void. So what’s our part in this? Well, look at verse 12 of the same chapter, “For you,” speaking to His own people, “you shall go out with joy, be led forth with peace.” So you’re going out, and as you do, “the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Now He’s continuing the word picture here. Imagine a dry and thirsty land; not hard for us to imagine, living here in Southern California, where we go through continual droughts. So imagine a drought-ridden land; and if you could hear it, the sound of creation, when the rain clouds come and start to dump water upon it, you would hear the trees going, “Y-y-y-e-e-e-a-a-a-h-h-h!!” Right? That’s what He’s essentially saying; that you’re going to go forth, the mountain and the hill shall break forth before you into singing, the trees of the field shall clap their hands. So, the idea is this: when the rain comes upon a drought-ridden land, the hills, the trees, they rejoice. The clouds brought the rain, brought rejoicing. So our part in this, if you carry the word picture out logically, God’s word is like the rain, it will not return void; our part in this is like the clouds. We’re to carry God’s word out and just dump it out; to make sure that it gets to those lands that are drought-ridden; where the word of God is not. That’s why we’re passionate about ministries like New Tribes and Cross Connection Outreach, because the word of God is not in Mozambique, among the Tswa people that speak Shitswah. It’s not among the Ndau people who speak the Ndau language. It’s not among many of the 46 different language groups that are represented there in Mozambique. That’s just one nation. And so we are playing the part of the clouds carrying forth God’s word. God’s word does not return void. How many of you recognize that sometimes some of the things that you do end up empty…vain? Yes. But God’s word will not return void. So, our commitment to carry God’s word to other people, that will be a work that will never return void; because God is serious about His word. Isn’t it an amazing thing that wherever the rain goes, it produces growth? I mean, it just produces growth, wherever the rain goes. Why? Because it accomplishes the work that God sent it forth to do. The waters, seeds, the way God created, it just sprouts. Now sometimes, of course, it sprouts things that we don’t want in our gardens. Right? Those things seem to grow pretty quick. But, the rain is effective.

So, Paul says, “Chiefly, you are in a privileged position, O Jew, because you have the word of God.” Now, we could fast forward to 2012, and say, “Okay, American, you are in a privileged position because you have the word of God.” More so than any other nation, and God has given you a measure of faith, and that word of God, when it falls upon that seed of faith, it will grow into saving faith, or it can grow into saving faith. So the word of God is living and powerful, and it causes that to grow; “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Well, Paul, he knows that the next question someone’s going to ask him here, “Well, what if some of them did not believe,” verse 3. So God says, “My word will not return void;” it goes forth, it waters that seed of faith, okay. “But,” the astute reader of Paul’s word, says here, “but what if some of those people don’t end up believing?” What if it doesn’t result in their faith toward God? Then what? “Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God of no effect?” If they don’t believe, and yet they have the privileged position of having God’s word in their possession, does that mean that God failed, or that He was unfaithful in some way? Well first, as we break this apart, we don’t have a lot of time, but let’s try and break it, and unpack it here; we have to figure out what exactly does Paul mean here? And so he’s anticipating the inevitable question. So he’s just informed his Jewish brothers that their descent from Abraham, and all that is associated with them being descendents of Abraham, will not help them on the day of judgment when they stand before God. However, they have been given a great advantage, a privilege, in that they possess the word of God. And their possession of the word of God has provided them with a greater opportunity to hear the word of God, and therefore, to believe. So, the inevitable question is, “Well, what if some of them do not believe?” They had the scriptures, they copied the scriptures, they studied the scriptures, they memorized the scriptures, they meditated upon the scriptures; but what if the result of all that was not faith? Jesus said to the Pharisees in His day, “You search the scriptures, for in them you think you find life, but they are they speak of Me.” And yet the Pharisees didn’t believe. So, is that a failure on God’s part to be faithful to what He has said? That God is somehow diminished in His faithfulness, if His word didn’t ultimately produce faith? And Paul says, “Certainly not!” He says, “No!” Some translations say, “God forbid!” A literal translation of this would be, “May it never be,” or “May it never become!” that that is the thought, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” God is faithful, even if we are faithless. If we fail to put our faith in God, even though He has given us His word, He still remains faithful to His word. It doesn’t diminish His faithfulness to His word. So this means that God will also remain faithful and true to the curses of His word. So, if it says, “Those who do not believe and put their faith in Christ, they will judged with eternal damnation,” God will still be faithful to that. He will continue to be faithful to His word. Now, one of the things that you’ll often hear Christians say, they’ll quote, although they may not know that they’re quoting it, from 2 Timothy, chapter 2, they’ll say, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful still, because He cannot deny Himself.” And there’s a lot of us who love that verse: even if I’m faithless, God is faithful still. Anybody ever quoted that before, or thought that before, in your walk with the Lord? Some of you; I thought more of you would say, “Yes,” to that. But it’s 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verse 13; the interesting thing is that the context there is saying that if we deny Him, He will deny us, because if we are faithless, He will remain faithful still, because He cannot deny Himself. So the context there is not like, “If I have a lapse in my faith, God’s still faithful, and He’s still going to love me.” That may be true, and proven elsewhere, but it’s not proven there. What’s proven there is that if you do not believe in God, and you deny Him, that He exists, then He will deny you on the day of Christ Jesus. It’s kind of a little bit different reading to that verse, when you read it in context. It’s pretty heavy. So God will remain faithful to Himself. We can trust that He is not a respecter of persons. He will judge with equity; meaning His justice will run down with righteousness. Meaning that when He judges, He will judge in the right way, in the perfect way.

And so to prove this, Paul gives a reference of scripture from the Psalms, and he says there in verse 4, “As it is written,” this is Romans 3, verse 4, “as it is written,” and then he goes on to quote: “That you may be justified in your words, and may overcome when you are judged.” He’s quoting from the Psalms, specifically he’s quoting from Psalm 51, and if you know anything about Psalm 51, you know that Psalm 51 was written after King David had sinned grievously; after he had committed adultery, and after he had committed murder, to cover up his adulterous affair. Now he hired someone else to do the murder, but he still was involved in the whole situation. And so for a year, he covered this up; no one knew that he was at the core of this whole adulterous, murderous thing that happened in the nation of Israel. He is the king of Israel; he’s the king of the nation. And then God sends a prophet, the prophet Nathan, and he goes and he exposes this sin, and now David is seen for who he is. This guy who everybody is looking up to, as: Oh, the great king of Israel, the friend of God, the Psalmist of Israel, he’s so wonderful. And now it’s exposed: he’s an adulterer, he’s a murderer. And so, King David, Psalm 51, verse 1, he says, “Have mercy on me, O God.” Why? Because he recognizes, it doesn’t matter I’m the king of Israel, it doesn’t matter I’m a descendent of Abraham, it matters that I have sinned. God, you will judge sin! “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” Notice he didn’t go before God and say, “I am the king, and I’m the descendent of Abraham, and I deserve to be saved through this.” He says, “Have mercy on me, because of Your lovingkindness. Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge,” this is confession, repentance, “I acknowledge my transgression, my sin is always before me. Against You, and You only, have I sinned.” So this is what David says here in Psalm 51, and then in verse 4, after he says, “Against You, and You only, have I sinned,” he says this, “And I’ve done this evil in Your sight – that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.” So he says, in light of God revealing his sin, even though on the outside he looked like picture perfect, God reveals his inner sin, exposes it. And David says, “God have mercy; God, You are righteous when You speak judgment, and You are just when you judge. You have every right to judge me.” And so Paul points his Jewish readers back to that. The king of Israel, descendent of Abraham; he says, “Lord, I’ve sinned, I deserve Your judgment, please be merciful to me.”

Verse 5, Romans, chapter 3, “But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?” So, he anticipates the next inevitable question, someone’s going to say, “Yes, but if I’m unrighteous, then it really shows how righteous God is. My unrighteousness, in contrast to His righteousness, glorifies His righteousness. So if I, in sinning, make Him look really good, He can’t judge me.” Now that’s some logic! If I just keep sinning, and do really, really, really bad sins, God’s going to look really, really, really, really good, and He’ll be glorified. And people go, “Wow, God is really good, in light of how bad you are. So He can’t possibly judge you, because You’ve made Him look really good.” What?! Now why does Paul bring this up? Because he knows this is where his readers are going to go, because this was Paul. He’s exposing his self-righteous, self-justifying mind here; when he was a Jewish Pharisee. And so he says, “Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.)” He says, “Listen, this is crazy thinking, I know, but this is where our carnal human mind goes.” “Certainly not! For how then will God judge the world?” God cannot judge the world if all of our unrighteousness is making Him look really good, and He is glorified through our unrighteousness. So He’s going to be unjust in judging the world, and yet He has prophesied that He will judge the world, and prior to this point, He has already judged – Sodom and Gomorrah; He judged the whole earth with the flood. So it’s clear that that logic doesn’t work.

Verse 7, “For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I still judged a sinner?” So the next inevitable question: If I tell a lie, it’s going to show just how truthful and honest God is, so He can’t judge me; because my evil makes His good look really good. Paul says, “Well why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come”? – as some are slanderously reporting of us.” So there were people who were saying that Paul’s preaching is basically along those lines – do evil, that good may come. Now, we can see where someone might come to that conclusion from Paul’s preaching. Why? Because Paul was preaching the gospel of grace; he was preaching justification by faith. He was preaching that circumcision and good works, according to the law, do not save you, but the only thing that can save you is your faith in Christ Jesus and the redeeming work that He did on your behalf. So there are some people who will look at that and say, “Well what about good works? If you’re saying that I don’t have to do good works to get to heaven, I just have to believe in Him and what He has done, then why not just continue to do bad things so that good will come upon me?” He answers this again later on in chapter 6, verse 1, he says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who have died to sin live any longer in it?” You see, the gospel reveals this: our salvation is not according to our lineage from a special person; it’s not according to our good works that we have done, because all of our righteous works, our good works, are like filthy rags to Him who is pure and undefiled and perfect, holy, holy, holy. So the only way that we can be saved, look at chapter 3, verse 21 of Romans, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who,” what? Say it loud. “…believe. For there is no difference.” Why? “For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, being justified freely by His grace.” How? “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” This is the gospel. “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The wages of sin is death.” But Christ Jesus, God incarnate, died as the redeeming sacrifice for the punishment of our sins. He bore the punishment for our sins upon Himself, “He who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might receive His righteousness;” as we put our trust in Him, our confidence, our faith in Him for salvation, not according to our own works, or our lineage. And we are ambassadors of this true gospel. We are those who have been given the ministry of reconciliation; we’ve been given the word of reconciliation, of redemption. And would to God that we would take that and steward it well; that we would be faithful clouds, just simply carrying the precious word of God to drought-ridden people. Amen?

Let’s stand and pray.

Father, I thank You for Your word, which is living and powerful. I thank You God, that You, in all Your awesome understanding and knowledge, that You know all things, You knew that there was no possible way that any of us could ever make ourselves right with You, and so You made the way open. You laid down Your life for us. Lord, we thank You that You have opened the way of salvation. And so God, we pray that, through us, that You would enable us to be ambassadors, You’d enable us to be witnesses of You, in this area to the uttermost parts, sharing the glorious truth of the gospel. That those who are at this point, are drought-ridden because of sin, would have the word, Your word poured out upon their heart, and they’d come to a knowledge of who You are. Enable us to be witnesses, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.