JEW AND GENTILE – JUSTIFIED!
“Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not also the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” Romans 3:27-31.
Paul was having an imaginary debate with his readers, but what on earth was this debate all about? We must put ourselves into the minds of these Roman believers to understand his argument.
The church in Rome was made up of both Jews and Gentiles. Zealous Jewish believers from other areas were going around insisting that Gentiles first adopt the Jewish law before they could become Christians. Since Jesus was a Jewish Messiah and His message was the fulfilment of God’s promise to the Jews, they believed that His way belonged to them.
Paul began his letter by taking pains to show his readers that Jews and Gentiles stood on level ground as far as their guilt was concerned. The law was of no benefit to the Jews because, although they were privileged to have received it from God as the terms of His covenant with them, they were unable to obey it perfectly. All the law could do was show them God’s holy standards and pronounce them guilty because they had fallen short of what He required.
What was the point of having God’s law if it only revealed the extent of their failure to keep it? Boasting about the law was fruitless because it did nothing for them except show how guilty they were. They were no better than the Gentiles as far as God was concerned, law or no law, especially since the Gentiles also had God’s moral law written on their conscience. Whether it was written on stone or on their hearts, the standard was the same and they were equally guilty of falling short.
For Jew and Gentile, there was only one solution to their predicament – God Himself. Knowing that there was nothing they could do to satisfy His holy standards, He stepped in and provided the answer that both paid the penalty for the broken law and released the sinner from his guilt.
How did this happen? God came in person – the second Person of the Trinity became a human being, conceived in the womb of a woman by the power of the Holy Spirit, born into the world as a human baby, grew up in a human family, and was eventually executed as a law breaker although He lived a perfect life under the law. He became the atoning sacrifice for all people, Jew and Gentile; His offering was acceptable to God and confirmed by His resurrection from the dead.
There is nothing left to do but to accept His offering in our place by faith and to return to God to live under His authority as His sons and daughters. The law no longer stands over us as our accuser because Jesus fulfilled it and abolished it as the standard by which we are judged.
“Hey, wait a minute! You can’t say that!” But that’s what the Bible says.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13, 14.
Jesus introduced a new law, not to replace but to fulfil the law which could not change their hearts.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8.
Whatever was impossible under the law becomes possible under God’s grace because He has given us His Holy Spirit to enable us to do what we could not do by ourselves.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5.
The Law, given through Moses at Sinai, was a detailed explanation of how to love their fellow men, but it fell on deaf ears because their hearts were bent towards satisfying their own lusts. Only by removing their guilt could God restore the Holy Spirit to live within their spirits and provide the power to turn towards Him again.
And that is exactly what He has done through His Son!
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