God’s Faithfulness Surpasses All Our Good Deeds
[Romans chapter 3]
In today’s study we will be moving on to chapter three of the book of Romans, where we find the apostle Paul continuing his remarks from the end of chapter two where he proved conclusively that being a Jew or a Gentile outwardly does not matter as much to God as what kind of person we are inwardly. We can skim through the first few verses in chapter three, where Paul finishes his train of thought on the differences between Jews and non-Jews. I can sum this up starting with verses 3 and 4, and I quote: “What if someone did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true and every man a liar. As it is written; ‘so you may proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge’. (Psalm 51:4)” No matter if we have “sufficient” faith or not, our lack of faith never nullifies the unfathomable love of God. So if you are unsure about your faith, the supreme sacrifice of Jesus on the cross always makes up the difference. Now there is some really encouraging news, so store it in your heart, nurture it, care for it and watch it grow! That’s how we draw closer to Christ so he can be closer to us.Moving right along to verse nine, Paul teaches that no matter what our background or lineage, all of mankind is equal in the sight of God.
“What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’ Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the Law; rather, through the Law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3, verses 9-20, NIV)
Is one group of people any better than the rest? Are there any people who can truly call themselves God’s chosen people? Back in the times of Abraham and Moses in the Old Testament, and right up until today, the Bible clearly states that the Jews are God’s chosen people. Jewish people, and particularly the modern nation of Israel, still call themselves God’s chosen people, and because of this they have endured much persecution over the centuries since the time of Moses. The ultimate persecution of the Jews was during the crucifixion, faith and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who walked the earth as a Jewish man. But in modern times, starting in the mid-1940’s up to the present, a movement among our Hebrew brothers and sisters has been born that accepts that Jesus was in fact the Messiah prophesied in the Torah – the Jewish Bible. They are called “messianic Jews” because they have embraced Jesus as their Messiah. They have swallowed their pride (which is something a lot more people need to do whether they are Jewish or Christian) and have come to terms with the indisputable fact that Jesus was the Messiah all along, and that the majority of people – not just Jewish folks, but everybody – have missed the mark by not recognizing this basic fact. Let’s not be like them, because many of them will perish forever because they refused to believe.
Moving right along, today’s study reads as follows: “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the Law; rather, through the Law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3, 19-20, NIV) This is an elaboration and completion of this matter, both in the good judgment of Paul and in the eyes of the Lord Almighty. “There is no one righteous, not even one,” the prophet Isaiah wrote approximately 800 years before the time of Christ. That is how God sees us if we do not place our complete faith and our utmost trust in his only Son, Christ Jesus, the Son of the living God. But for those who truthfully and sincerely believe, to the very best of their ability, that Jesus is their risen Savior and Kinsman Redeemer, they will not be judged because their sins have been washed away and their very souls made white as newly fallen snow by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. This means we now all have been made worthy in God’s sight, not because of our good works or the lack of them, but because Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of God Himself through grace. What more can we ask for? And now, let’s wrap up today’s study beginning at verse 21.
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, from which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. God presented him as a sacrifice for atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the proper time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who believe in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the Law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised by that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the Law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (Romans 3, verses 21-31, NIV)
“… righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” We don’t get our righteousness from God. It is not made known to us through any of our 5 senses. Instead, it is transmitted from Almighty God through his Son, who has already made ample use of himself as the conduit for his limitless power. We as believers plug into this power to grow our faith ever stronger as we continue to solidify our one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ. “With God”, Jesus taught, “all things are possible”, and that directly applies in this example from Scripture. Paul continues by saying we “… are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. God presented him as a sacrifice for atonement, through faith in his blood.” Although it is vitally important that we maintain an ongoing relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior, this by itself does not necessarily guarantee that all who do so will be able to spend an eternity with Christ. The apostle Paul wrote elsewhere in his letters to the early Church, “faith without works is dead”. In fact, that actually works both ways. Works without faith, or with too little of it, is just as dead as the former. Our righteousness comes from Christ and him alone. There is no substitute.
“(God) did it to demonstrate his justice at the proper time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who believe in Jesus.” God’s justice for us all was demonstrated by the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus. He was the only person who ever walked the face of the earth that obtained eternal life by his own merits. No ordinary person has ever done any such thing on their own. But by placing our greatest faith in Him by being “washed in the blood of the lamb”, as the old hymn goes, it is our deepest and most uncompromising faith that will save us in the end. Paul finishes his train of thought by writing, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law …. since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised by that same faith.” What law was Paul writing about? The Old Law, otherwise known as the Old Testament. Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice to which he voluntarily subjected himself was the fulfillment of that Law. Here in the Last Days before His return, it is our faith that justifies us in God’s sight. Jesus has already succeeded in justifying us through that same faith. What is the evidence of this faith as far as we are concerned? It is the manifestation of Grace that is dispensed to each true believer. When we ask Jesus to come and live within our hearts, the grace that immediately follows is our proof of the existence of this grace, or unmerited favor, from Almighty God. This is the lesson that Jesus is teaching us about the nature of our faith is timeless and classic, whose depths are unfathomable to mortal men and women like ourselves. Our absolute faith is the glue that holds us all together.