February 2015

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:9-20

Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written, ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’”

Paul has just stated that we are all “under sin,” meaning that every person is under its influence and condemnation.  In that, he states that none of us is righteous and can therefore do no good.  He begins in the heart, and even on our best days, we cannot argue with this truth.  We might be able to act like we are good people and do things that the world deems good, but once we look in the mirror, we know what is really and truly there.  When you look into the mirror and face who you are—what you think and what you desire…all of it—could you still stand before God and say, “Paul’s not talking about me in these verses.  I am righteous.”  Righteousness is determined by perfection.  Consequently, in our hearts, the psalmist is correct in saying that no one is righteous and can therefore do nothing that is good by that same standard.

Study/Meditation:  How might you respond to someone who argued that the things they do in this world, outside of Christ, are still good?  What is the definition of God’s good?

*Father, without You I am imperfect and unrighteous, so I praise and honor You in Your gift of redemption to me, giving me the righteousness of Christ.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:9-20

Romans 3:9 “What then?  Are we Jews any better off?  No, not at all.  For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.”

Paul is coming to his closing argument in this passage against any and all objections to Christ as the only way to salvation.  He began in Chapter 1 pointing out how Gentiles need Christ and then in Chapter 2 and the first part of Chapter 3, he went to the same point directed at the Jews.  Now he’s basically saying that we are all in the same boat, regardless of who we think we are or whose family we may belong to.  Every human being is “under sin.”  By this he is saying that we are under the guilt of sin, the power of sin, and the condemnation of sin.  This is very sobering and certainly not what his audience wanted to hear.  It may not be what many today want to hear either; we prefer to think that mankind is basically good.  Paul’s argument, as Scripture attests, is that we are not basically good.  As a matter of fact, we are “under sin,” even in the things we might think we do that appear good.  Outside of Christ, all people are in sin, led by sin, and will be punished because of that sin.

Study/Meditation:  Why is it so important for us to realize that we are “under sin” as Paul states?  How does this fact make Christ so amazing?

*Father, thank You for sending Christ to save me from the penalty and power of my sin.  I love You.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:1-8

Romans 3:7-8 “But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?  And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying.  Their condemnation is just.”

Paul finally overrules another rhetorical argument in verses 7-8, which is perhaps the weakest of them all.  Basically this argument states:  “If God is glorified through my sin, shouldn’t I just sin all of the time so that His glory can shine?”  That argument is sometimes also seen in salvation by grace, not works, and the constancy of that salvation:  “If I don’t have to do anything to be saved and can do nothing to lose it once it’s given, can’t I sin all I want after the fact and still go to heaven?”  Both arguments are preposterous and fly directly in the face of God’s righteousness.  God’s children, His true children, want nothing more than to hear their Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Any rationalization for sin in the midst of receiving God’s saving grace is not an argument in favor of sin; it is in argument that will demonstrate true regeneration, a state that only results from true repentance and a desire for continued sanctification.

Study/Meditation:  How does Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:17 that healthy trees bear good fruit and diseased trees bear bad fruit prove the fallacy in the argument Paul speaks of in Romans 3:7-8?

*Father, help me to see and do only those things that bring You glory.  Your righteousness endures forever!  Amen.

Romans 3:5-6 “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.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world?”

The rhetorical argument against God’s judgment of the Jews continues in these verses. Here the Jews would argue that if their sin serves to magnify God’s glory, then isn’t He unjust in punishing that sin? Of course, Paul answers with another resounding no, but it’s important that we understand what the Roman Jews are doing here because it is a very human response when confronted with sin. We want to deflect or change the subject. Think of how often, when presented the truth of the gospel and their subsequent sin, a person might respond with something like, “Well, before we get to that, let me ask you about angels” or “What about your sin?” or “Is the devil real?”—anything just so long as they don’t have to accept God’s judgment. But Paul’s point is valid today, too: God will judge the world, all of it, and our human arguments won’t change that. Instead of arguing our points, we should be humbling ourselves to what the God of the universe has mandated will come to pass. Again, He is God and He has every right to be exactly that.

Study/Meditation: In what ways have you seen people deflect when confronted with their sin? Have you ever been guilty of this? Why do you think we do this?

*Father, You are just and righteous, and I humbly submit to Your Lordship over my life. Amen.

Focal Passage: Romans 3:1-8

Romans 3:3-4 “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, ‘That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.’”

If God promised the Jews that their circumcision would be an outward sign of His ownership of them and then the covenant is broken because of their unbelief in Christ, does that make God unfaithful to His promise? This is the rhetorical question Paul is posing, knowing that it would be one of the objections raised by the Jews in Rome to his letter. Paul’s answer is a resounding no! As a matter of fact, in quoting David from Psalm 51:4, he is reminding them that God’s faithfulness is in His judgment and subsequent punishment of rebellion against Him just the same as it is in His blessing on those who remain constant to His commands. We cannot blame God and call Him unfaithful to His promises to us when we suffer the consequences of our own sin. He is first and foremost faithful to Himself and to His will and character. In that, we must be held accountable to Him and all that indeed makes Him God.

Study/Meditation: How would you define God’s faithfulness to His people? How does His faithfulness always lead back to Him?

*Father, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I praise You in all that You are. Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:1-8

Romans 3:1-2 “Then what advantage has the Jew?  Or what is the value of circumcision?  Much in every way.  To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.”

Paul had just completed part of his argument to the professing Jews in Rome that the outward signs of their faith, such as circumcision, were of no value unless they kept the law that mandated those acts to the letter.  Basically, he was telling them that their “Jewish-ness” wouldn’t get them into heaven.  He knew that the next question from them would be, “What’s the point of being a Jew, then?  Why be circumcised at all?”  Paul’s answer is to remind them that they had indeed been set apart, and in that setting apart had been given the very words of God to guide them.  We, too, have been set apart as God’s children.  We’ve been given His Word to guide and direct our lives and we’ve been given the saving blood of His Son to bring us to our Lord forever.  However, simply claiming to be Christian and going to church or being baptized doesn’t save us.  We are privileged to know Him, but we must surrender to Him, as well, accepting that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.  Like the Jews, being Christian involves more than ceremony and ritual; it is a heart change.

Study/Meditation:  How do you see many fall into the same trap as the Jews of Paul’s day in leaning on tradition and ceremony instead of on Christ for salvation?

*Father, give me the wisdom and discernment to see when I assume position in Your Kingdom based on who I think I am rather than who You have made me to be.  Thank You for loving me.  Amen.