January 27 (Reading for January 23-29: Romans 3) We sometimes say, speaking of God, “It’s not about us, it’s about Him.” This insight is clearly expressed in Romans 3: “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” (v. 3). People call themselves agnostic and/or atheistic, but what they do or do not believe about God changes nothing about His existence or His faithfulness!
Paul had made it clear in chapter two that God is impartial; He is faithful in His treatment of everyone. The salvation or judgment of both Jews and Gentiles would be based on faith and not works. The Jews claimed special privilege because they had received the law. In their thinking, righteousness was attained through their obedience to the law. They tried to discredit Paul’s teaching on faith and works by twisting his words. Paul believed that man’s unrighteousness brings to light the righteousness (and grace) of God. The Jews falsely accused him therefore of saying: “Let’s do evil that good may come of it?” (v. 8). Paul again confronted this false belief when he asked: “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” He responded emphatically to his own question: “Far from it!” (Rom. 6:1-2).
Paul continued in chapter 3 his theme of God’s impartiality to Jews and Gentiles: “We have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin” (v. 9). In verses 10-18, Paul cited eight quotes from David, Solomon and Isaiah that prove that no person has righteousness in what he accomplishes himself. For example: “There is no righteous person, not even one … There is no one who does good … There is no fear of God before their eyes.” He said that the purpose of the law was to reveal sin and not to bring righteousness (v. 20). We have the law so that “all the world may become accountable to God” (v. 19). So, that presents the question: is there any hope? Yes! Because “the righteousness of God has been revealed … it is the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (vv.21-22). We do not have to depend on our own righteousness. What a relief that is! We are all sinners (v. 23), and we are all justified “by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 24). Jesus Christ is our righteousness!
Paul’s final words on the subject: “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (v. 28). When we live by faith, “we uphold the law” (v. 31, NIV). Let us be “law-abiding” kingdom citizens by our faith in the gift of His grace “through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 24).
– Al Gary