Romans Chapter 3
There are 2 topics in this chapter. The first is that no person on earth is perfect. We all sin. The second topic is justification by faith.
Justification by faith means to be rendered or be declared righteous by faith alone, not by deeds.
I was going to try and analyze verse by verse in this chapter as I have in the past but Romans doesn’t really work that way. Romans is full of one concept after another rather than verse by verse, though I’m sure I’ll pick out a few verses along the way.
So the first topic presented continues on from chapter 2 where circumcision was brought up.
Here, Paul is teaching to the Jews. He’s starts out by addressing some concerns. So the Jews began the “act” of circumcision as directed by God to Abraham. This act was to prove their faith. (Similar to the “act” we have of baptism as directed by Jesus to the apostles).
So Paul is smoothing things over because one of the concerns the Jews had when the gospel was open to non-Jews was, what advantage do the Jew’s have then? Or what’s the benefit of the “act” of circumcision if all these non-Jews aren’t circumcised and yet God still counts them as righteous too?
A valid question for a people who have gone under the knife for many generations now. The questions that Paul is attempting to answer basically boil down to … if our acts count for nothing, then couldn’t we just be “bad” and not worry about it as long as we have faith? Basically, can’t we act like the Gentiles?
Uh…nope. Doesn’t work that way. The Jews back then were having a hard time because if God will accept as righteous non-Jews and Jews alike, then why can’t Jews start acting like Gentiles and let loose of some of the commandments?
The Jews, for the first time, had to open their minds and hearts to “share” their God with non-Jews. That’s a hard thing to come to terms with. Suddenly, with the appearance of the Messiah, they were no longer “special”. Suddenly, they were lumped in with the faithful gentiles. We all sin, Jew/Gentile alike. Because of the sin we do, God’s mercy and glory can be shown but that doesn’t mean that we should TRY to keep doing bad. The opposite is true…we should TRY to follow the example of Christ Jesus.
Back then, the Jewish life was filled with this ritual or that ritual, this custom or that custom, this Law and that Law. It was a very rigid life. Paul is not saying that that is to stop. He is not saying that the Law is abolished at all. He isn’t saying that the Jewish lifestyle should change. He is merely teaching what the Done book said so easily…that justification (being declared righteous) is according to faith only. Doesn’t matter what we “Do”, it’s all about what Jesus “Did” so that NONE can’t boast.
In order to appreciate the awesome gift of forgiveness, of justification, of faith… we have to understand the Law and what it represents. It represents the sinful human nature that is within all of us, Jew and Gentile alike. Once we understand the Law (what is inside of us) it becomes so very easy to understand that we are helpless to save ourselves and that we need a Savior.