February 13, 2011

Romans #6

Romans 3:1-20

Let me make one more point concerning Romans 2:25-29. That is, Jeremiah 4:1-3. Being a Jew — that is, physically circumcised — only brought more judgment upon them for not circumcising their hearts. There land was going to be left desolate for their ignoring God's word.

Paul has told the Jews in Rome that they are on equal footing with the Gentiles before God. Their circumcision, their fine words concerning the law, and maybe even their actions according to the law are worthless without the circumcised heart.

Moreover, their special relationship with the Lord without the circumcised heart was not sufficient to see them through on the final day of judgement. Though the law had been given through them, and they respected the law and were proud of that relationship, their hearts were not right with the Lord.

Typical of Paul's writing, he answers questions, many times before they are asked. Knowing the Jewish mind, he had one, he now answers a question that he knows is there.

Vv. 1-8.

What advantage... The Jews had been told that they were a unique, a holy nation, a peculiar treasure, the seed of Abraham the friend of God, and their relationship with the Lord of heaven was confirmed by the God given sign of circumcision.

With the Jews and Gentiles on the same level before God, what advantage do the Jews have? What advantage is circumcision?

V. 2, Paul answers this question before it is asked

The advantage is that they were entrusted with the oracles of God; that is, the laws and applications of those law.

Deuteronomy 4:1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. 2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 3 Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you. 4 But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day. 5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. 7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? 8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

God gave to them the words of wisdom, understanding, judgements, justice and life. It was through obedience to his word that they, the Jews, were exalted before all the pagan nations.

Advantage... God chose them out of paganism, and exalted them from among all the nations of the world. He gave to them the oracles of God.

The problem Paul is dealing with is that the Jews became lifted up with pride, confident they were special people, and exempt from needing anything else than what had been delivered to them on the Mount and what had been passed down as traditions of the fathers.

1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

So we ask, "What advantage have we by being in what was once known as a Christian nation?" We have the oracles of God. That is, the written word of God. At one time, this nation, as a nation, took that responsibility and privilege seriously, as the Christian West covered the world with the gospel. But those days are over.

As with the Jews, the Christian West that was entrusted with the oracles of God will be held much more accountable than will be pagan nations such as Brazil or India, or even the non-Christians.

V. 3. What if... shall their unbelief... Paul assures the Jews that they way they deal with the oracles of God will not affect what they say. Though they refused to believe the word of God enough to submit their hearts to it, the contents of the word of God and its promises remained the same.

In other words, God will remain faithful to his word even if his "professed" people deny his word with their actions.

V. 4, let God be true, but every man a liar... Though the whole of his professed people depart from faithfulness to his word, his word will still be true.

We live in an age when the professed church is denying the validity of God's word on every side.

Those of us who believe that the Gospel Church replaced the old physical Israel as God's people, are accused of REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY. However, as mentioned above, from the very first, the real Israel has been identified by the circumcised heart. So the church replace no one, for the church has always been in existence, MADE UP ONLY OF THOSE WHOSE HEART HAS BEEN CIRCUMCISED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

But there is a real replacement theology. The laws of God are being replaced by the theories and traditions of fallen men, even by those to profess to love God profess to believe the Bible. Worse of all, preachers are teaching this replacement theology to their followers.

Replacement:

The gospel of faith in the finished work of Christ is replaced by various strange and new ideas.
Evolution is replacing Creation.

February 12 was Darwin's birthday. A movement started by an atheist started a web site, Evolution Sunday." It asked pastors to sign a statement of support of evolution. 10,000 signed on, and about 350 have committed themselves to promote evolution to their followers today.

Preacheretts are replacing preachers.
Biblical life-style is being replaced with alternative lifestyles
Living together is replacing marriage.
Same-sex marriages are replacing male and female marriages.
Statist education is replacing godly education.
The sovereignty of the state is replacing the sovereignty of God.

And the list goes on and on. We expect the pagans to hold to deny the validity of God's word in every area of life, but the problem is that God's people are accepting them, and even promoting them.

V. 4 tells us that if every person on earth denies the validity of God's word, that will not change God's word nor attitude toward these ideas from hell. Let God be true, but every man a liar...

"There is no God" is not a new idea. The idea has been around as long as has sin: Psalms 14:1, the fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'

However, we are assured by the Spirit through Paul that the proof of God is everywhere man looks: from the largest heavens to the smallest particle. God is justified not only in his word, but in his creation, and all men who disagree with his word are found to be liars.

V. 5, again, Paul answers a question before it is asked: "I am part of God's chosen people. And since my unrighteousness reveals the righteousness of God in all he does, even as sin takes its natural course, then why does God take vengeance against me?

Answer:

V. 6, how shall God judge... Paul is speaking to the Jews who were confident in their heritage to Abraham, and their nation having been chosen by God. The Old Testament gives us the record of God's dealing with his "chosen people". They were confident they were special in God's eyes. Their false confidence led to their hardness in sin, and God's judgment.

"Since we are God's people, and even our wrong actions bring glory to him, how can God judge us as wicked sinners?"

how shall God judge the world if he does not judge all sin, sin even among his chosen people?

Though fallen man overlooks his sins, God cannot. God cannot act as if nothing is wrong. Now, his patience, grace and mercy can postpone the just rewards of sin, giving his people, as well as those outside of his people, a chance to submit a repent heart to God, but his righteousness requires vengeance.

His patience shall end, and it will end in righteous judgment at the proper time.

When God's professed people will not take God seriously, how can we expect the word to take him seriously??

Vv. 7, 8 sums up vv. 5, 6.

"Can a lie bring more glory to God? If so, whey am I judged a sinner when I lie?"

I "cut my teeth" in the Fundenmentalest movement. Its height seemed to last maybe 20-30 years, 1960 to 1990. Back then, vv. 7, 8 seemed to be the moto for building church buildings and church attendance. "Let us do evil..." Or "The end justifies the means".

Some churches still do that.

Dealing with the very issue Paul discusses in vv. 7 & 8, several years ago, I did an article, "Free beer and Pizza".

Back when the bus ministry was going big, and buildings were thought to be needed to "house" the increased attendance of children, the pastor or financial officer would go to the bank and use the bus attendance to show a large congregation in order to obtain a large loan to build.

The first ministry I worked full time with was in Indianapolis. The church maybe ran 50-100 adults, yet we brought in over 300 on the buses. That made the total attendance well over 400, which was impressive to the banks.

Many churches of the 60s through 80s did this, and accumulated large amounts of debt based upon deceiving the banks.

The spirit of the law was certainly bent if not broken, and almost anything could be done in order to attract a crowd to hear the gospel. However, the gospel usually fell far short of the gospel as revealed by Paul in Romans.

We are reading today of those same churches who went into debt on false numbers having to file bankruptcy, and their properties being foreclosed upon.

God's people have privileges, yet with those privileges come responsibility.

Vv. 8-20

Paul has dealt with unbelief: If you or any one disbelieves God's word, unbelief will not change its promises.

V. 9, Paul goes back and deals with the question in v. 1, what advantage, what rofit...? He answers that though the Jews had advantage, sin placed everyone on the same level. In fact, everything the Jews had boasted in and depended on only witnessed against them.

Certainly, the Jews had been given God's word, but it witnessed against them, and added to their accountability. The word they had been given proved that all are sinners, and at this point, the Jews were not superior to the Gentiles.

Vv. 10-18. Paul reminds them that they already had the Scriptures to prove them under sin as are the Gentiles, so they particularly are without excuse.

Psalms 14:1 ¶ «To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.» The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. 2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalms 14:1-3 is one of the few passages that is repeated word for word, with only a few words rearranged. It is found again in:

Psalms 53:1 ¶ «To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David.» The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. 2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. 3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

God wanted to get the message through to men.

Paul holds up the mirror of the Old Testament Scripture to the Jews, as it is held up to each of us:

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

The same mirror is held up to us, and it shows us that no one is righteous; no one understands; no one seeks after God. All men are altogether filthy, and no one does good as defined by God's word.

They are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no not one.

Passages like this given us what is called TOTAL DEPRAVITY.

Ephesians 2:1 ¶ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 ¶ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Colossians 2:13 ¶ And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

All men are dead in their sins, and no man can will himself alive any more than Lazarus could will himself alive. When Jesus told them to take away the stone, his sister, Martha, said, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

The same must be said about all men before conversion, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Paul includes every person as he speaks to the Jews who boasted in the law, their knowledge of the law and in their good works. He proves from the law and the prophets that all good works and fine motives are useless without Christ. A dead man cannot do good, and only the Spirit of God can bring life to the dead.

Vv. 13-14, Paul connects the throat, tongue, lips and mouth with death and corruption.

Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

He says the same thing in Matthew 15:18 & Luke 6:45.

Note James 3:

1 ¶ My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

Vv. 15-18, not only is the mouth used for sinful purposes, but the words are put to action through the feet as they pursue godless actions.

Though Paul is speaking especially to the Jews to convince them of their sinfulness, his use of they and their refers to both Jews and Gentiles. V. 9.

3:19 is the conclusion of this whole portion of Romans which started in 1:18.

That conclusion applies to both the Jews and to the heathen.

that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

V. 20, Paul has made it clear that no man can please God in his own strength. No man can be justified in God's sight by keeping the law. The law can only show the unsaved man his sin, and his natural inability to please God.

The law shows the need of a sinless Saviour, the man Christ Jesus. He will be presented in the next section. Only through him can our actions please the Heavenly Father.