Romans 3 — All sin and fall short…

Romans 3 — All Sin and Fall Short of the Glory of God

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say — as some slanderously claim that we say — “Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together 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.”

The beginning of chapter 3 seems like Paul is answering questions he thought the Jewish Christians would have from earlier in the letter. If the Jews were no better off than Gentiles were, what advantage was there to being a part of the so-called “chosen people”? The answer was easy: you have the Scriptures! Paul also seems to be dealing with another issue that some might bring up, if we are so sinful and God’s grace is made known through our sinfulness then God shouldn’t be upset with our unrighteousness! He responds to this same line of thinking again in Romans 6.

Paul then seems to move on, using scriptures mostly from Psalms to show the sinfulness of mankind. The context of some of these scriptures are written to the “enemies of God” and not to the people of God who were being righteous. However, this is not surprising when we understand that no matter how righteous we may become we can never be completely righteous without God’s provision of grace. Galatians 3 gives us some insight into this when it says, “’Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law. Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ The law is not based on faith; on the contrary ‘The man who does these things will live by them.’” The quotes in Galatians 3 is from Deuteronomy 27:26 and Leviticus 18:5. In the first of these passages, Moses simply says the people should faithfully follow the scriptures. In the original context, Moses is not saying that the people have to perfectly obey, for that would have been impossible. But rather, he is saying that the people should faithfully obey. The Leviticus passage, says the same thing, be faithful to God and His word and you will live spiritually. This simple truth: All are under sin and no one has come close to either doing good or being righteous when compared to Jesus rather than other people. Hence we have no chance to live in perfect obedience but we can live in faithful obedience to God’s Word.

The other truth we must confront is that NO ONE is good, NO ONE is righteous without Jesus. Many people share about how “good” their relatives are, how “righteous” someone is but the truth is that without God’s grace, without being clothed in Christ…no one can be truly good or righteous! This can be an area where Christians can be sentimental, when considering the good people in their family or among their friends. Many Christians struggle in their faith with a God that could send “good” people to face judgment and wrath. But Paul tells the church in Rome the truth, no one is good, no one is righteous…without the blood of Jesus. All sin and fall short of the glory of God…and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

All men are under sin because they have fallen short of God’s law. The main word for sin is hamartia in the Greek, which comes from an archery term that means “to miss the mark.” It is vital to note that the mark could by missed by sins of commission (doing wrong things) or sins of omission (not doing the right things). Since the mark set in the NT era is Jesus, we can miss our mark by doing what he did not do or by failing to do what he did. Jesus was never immoral, jealous, envious, so if we do those things we should be very convicted. Jesus also lived a life centered around seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10), we should also be very convicted if our lives are not focused in the same way. The truth is that we are often more alarmed and concerned about the former rather than the latter.

I love that once Paul establishes the sinfulness of mankind that he immediately introduces the doctrine of God’s abundant grace! He summarizes the grace/faith principle in the latter part of Romans 3. Next he will demonstrate in Romans 4 that principle (grace through faith) using the life of Abraham. After this example he will describe the basis of this faith/grace formula in Romans 5: the cross of Christ. In Romans 6, he will show how we accept this grace through dying to sin with Christ in baptism. Following this he will demonstrate the absolute misery of trying to gain salvation by any other method. And finally, in Romans 8, he will show why there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. These chapters are so central to the gospel message, if we miss them, we can totally miss the amazing good news about Jesus!

Being justified “freely” (verse 24) gives us an amazing picture of God’s grace. “Justified” is from the Greek dikaios, a term with a legal meaning to be “declared innocent” or “not guilty.” We are simply not guilty through the blood of Jesus. God has no “dog house” and those who truly accept God’s grace have do not have any guilt hanging over their heads. God’s desire is not for us to live in a dog house (or with the pigs like in the story of the prodigal son — Luke 15) but He desires us to return to Him where we can find mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

We are also redeemed through Jesus Christ. “Redemption” (verse 24) means that we have been bought back from Satan, and the slavery of sin. In Peter’s terms: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

These blessings of grace are based on God’s sacrifice of atonement. The idea of a “sacrifice of atonement” is to remove the barrier of sin so that we can be reconciled to God again. The cross allows us to be found “not guilty” so that we could approach God’s throne with confidence because of what Jesus has done for us! The cross allows us to be set free from the power of Satan, Satan’s lies, and the chains of sin. We are redeemed, God has bought our freedom with the sacrifice of His Son to free us from the captivity of our sin. The cross shows God’s justice and righteousness because it demonstrates that sin would be fully paid for and not merely pushed aside or ignored; and it righteously allowed sin to go unpunished in the lives of the faithful who live now and even who lived before the cross.

The sacrifice of Jesus should drive us to trust God to do for us and in us what we cannot do for ourselves! Jesus is perfect and we are in a relationship with Him, clothed in him, and washed by His blood. We cannot be saved by our good deed or performance, our only hope is to live by faith in Jesus and the blood he shed for us. When we are faithful, God does not see our sin or our flaws but Jesus’ righteousness! Amazing!

It is so easy for me to trust in my “to do” list, to trust in my good deeds, or my spiritual performance instead of my heart and faithfulness to God. Trusting in myself and in what is seen is easier and more natural to me. God’s law was never intended to fix us! It was intended to show us righteousness and help us see our need for God’s grace. When I use the law to trust in God’s promises and to be convicted of my sinful nature…if that moves me to a humble, grateful, and faithful attitude towards God then the law has had the proper affect on my heart. But if God’s law is a way to justify myself by my own actions and performance, I will put my trust in myself and reject God’s grace. Living a life based on trusting my abilities to perform “good enough” to merit God’s mercy is a life of comparing myself to others rather than Jesus. A life filled with deceiving myself and deceiving others. A life based on law is a life without mercy, without hope, without a relationship with God. The standard of God’s law is perfection (Galatians 3:6–12) but if I can be moved to faithfulness by the cross of Jesus, I can experience the righteousness that comes from faith! However the issue is always my heart! The question is not am I being “good enough” but am I being faithful to my relationship with God.

I am so grateful that God’s love and blessings are not based on my performance but rather on my faith in his faithfulness, mercy, and power in my life! The cross provides justification, a life without guild or regrets. The cross provides redemption, a life without the chains of sin and Satan’s lies. The cross provides a sacrifice of atonement, a heart and a life no longer separated by a barrier of sin but reconnected to the One who created me and loves me!

What did I learn today…

About God or Jesus…

God is righteous and just. God didn’t just ignore our sins or push them aside. God, through the cross, demonstrated that sin must be fully paid for and that he is faithful to his Word…the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

About Christianity…

We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Those who live by faith in their own righteousness or good deeds will never experience God’s grace. Only those who are humble enough to accept Jesus’ sacrifice will be forgiven.

Our mark is Jesus. To live faithfully in our desire to please the Father. To live a life of love and to be willing to lay down our lives for others! Christians must not compare themselves to others but must always allow Jesus to be the standard of their faithfulness and righteousness.

Christians must live faithfully to God. Our relationship with God is based on our faithfulness not our perfection. God’s grace is NEVER a license for sin and those who warp the gospel will be condemned.

About how I can apply this to my life…

Today I want to trust in God’s faithfulness! I want to be humble, grateful and faithful today! I will make a long gratitude list and then allow that to motivate me to act faithfully today!

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