Lesson 9

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:1 Then what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the profit of circumcision? 3:2 Much in every way! Because first of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3:3 For what if some were without faith? Will their lack of faith make of no effect the faithfulness of God? 3:4 Certainly not! Yes, let God be found true, but every man a liar. As it is written,

"That you might be justified in your words,

And might prevail when you come into judgment."

3:5 But if our unrighteousness commends the righteousness of God, what will we say? Is God unrighteous who inflicts wrath? I speak like men do. 3:6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? 3:7 For if the truth of God through my lie abounded to his glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 3:8 Why not (as we are slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say), "Let us do evil, that good may come?" Those who say so are justly condemned. 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? No, in no way. For we previously charged both Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin. 3:10 As it is written,

"There is no one righteous. No, not one.

3:11 There is no one who understands.

There is no one who seeks after God.

3:12 They have all turned aside.

They have together become unprofitable.

There is no one who does good, no, not, so much as one."

3:13 "Their throat is an open tomb.

With their tongues they have used deceit."

"The poison of vipers is under their lips;"

3:14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness."

3:15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood.

3:16 Destruction and misery are in their ways.

3:17 The way of peace, they haven’t known."

3:18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

 Today's Lesson 

This section brings to a conclusion Paul's discussion of the sinfulness of man. First, he answers a critic about whether there is any real advantage to being Jewish. Then he speaks to the right of God to judge and our response to His judgment. Lastly, he ends with a long list from the Law and the Prophets of quotations about the sinfulness of man.


Paul answers two critical questions that might be raised about what he has said so far. First he has said harsh things about Judaism. He wants people, Gentiles especially, to know that he still finds value in his Jewish heritage. The Jews "were entrusted with the oracles of God." The Law and the Prophets came from the Jewish nation. It was God who through mercy and grace selected them to receive His revelation.


Did the lack of faith in some of these people prove that God had been wrong to choose them, or worst still, did God prove to be unfaithful? No, even when the people lost faith in God in the wilderness God remained faithful. God's plans do not depend on our acceptance. When we accept God by faith we are permitted to participate in the plans of God. Our participation does not make God's plans any more likely to occur for God's will is sovereign and will be done. Moreover, our rejection of God's will does not thwart His plans. It only means that we will not be allowed to become a part of their eventual success.


If God's plans are assured and if God is sovereign then God knows the extent of man's sinfulness and rebellion. Some might say that man's sinfulness is part of the plan of God and we are only fulfilling the will of God. How can we be judged if all of this, including man's rebellion, fits so neatly into the plan of God?


Paul answers, "As it is written, 'There is no one righteous. No, not one.'" The unrighteousness of all men begins with the rejection of God. Our sin and rebellion are allowed to magnify and become overpowering because from that point on, God turns us over to our own desires and lusts. But, the first conscious decision to reject God is ours. Moreover, God is always ready to accept us back. It is just that our own hearts become hardened and we have no true desire to return to God. We may feel momentary guilt, but we soon return to the sin that enslaves us.


Is God wrong in judging us then? No, God is only proclaiming what is true. We are rebellious children, fallen away from the glory that was intended to be ours. None of us is capable in himself or herself of achieving even the minimal that would be required from us in order to achieve righteousness from our own works.


Can you stand before the mirror and tell yourself you have lived your life well and good? Can you look at your actions and thoughts today and think; I have done all that I should in thought and deed? Until we see that we are lost, we will never know the joy of home. Unless we can acknowledge our illness, we cannot turn to the physician for our cure.


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