A HOPELESS SITUATION
“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 more 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?” Romans 3:1-6.
Lest his readers thought that being a Jew was of no value at all, Paul quickly showed them that the problem lay, not with the law or with the righteousness of God but with the unfaithfulness of the people who received God’s word. The Jews were highly favoured and privileged to have God’s word. They had the advantage of being in covenant with God and they had the sign of the covenant to prove it.
The problem lay, not with God but with the people. As he has already made clear, having God’s word and being in covenant with Him was of no benefit to them if they did not show it in their daily lives. After all, was it not God’s purpose that, by living out His instructions to His people, they were to show their Gentile neighbours what He is really like?
But then Paul responded to another hypothetical question. Is God not being unjust by judging people who break His law, when their very sinfulness shows up His righteousness?
What kind of logic is that? Do people really think like this? It would be the same as arguing that criminals should not be punished because what they did shows us just how right the government is to make laws that judge wrongdoers!
“Some might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances His 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.” Romans 3:7, 8.
God’s glory is not revealed in contrast to human wickedness but in the justice of His judgment. As Paul rightly argues, how can God judge sin if we sin in order to show up His righteousness? This is a very twisted argument, to say the least. Since much of God’s judgment comes to us through the consequences of our wrongdoing, He does not deliberately create bad consequences because He takes delight in punishing us. Consequences are the natural result of overstepping His boundaries.
No parent would tell his small child, “Don’t play in the street. You will be run over by a car,” because he arranged for a car to hit him. He warns his son because of the real danger of it happening. Similarly, God gives us boundaries within which He knows we are safe, and outside of which there is danger because of the very laws which hold the universe together.
The greatest tragedy of all is that people who rebel against God’s laws do not realise that they are not hurting God. They are hurting themselves and wasting their lives when God has so much for them if they would only heed what He says and live within the safety zone.
So, whether a person is a Gentile who has no knowledge of God’s word but has a conscience which he ignores, or a Jew who has God’s covenant and God’s word but does not obey it, the outcome is the same.
“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.” Romans 3:9.
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