What do you do when someone gives you a special gift? Do you carelessly toss it aside in a closet, or do you use it and appreciate it? What would you do if the gift came directly from God? Paul answers this in Romans 3:1-8.
God blessed the Jews by making them the custodians of His special mission, a privilege that had been given to no other nation. That mission included studying, obeying and teaching the truth as expressed in God’s Word. Unfortunately, the Jews did not treat this gift the way God wanted them to, and the same situation exists today. Has any gift been as overlooked by humankind and taken for granted by the church as much as the availability of the Holy Scriptures?
The religious Jews were entrusted with the truth but refused to be changed by it. Paul expected them to accuse him of saying God abandoned them, that they were no longer His chosen people. To answer them, Paul used David’s words. When David committed adultery and had Uriah murdered, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him. When Nathan accused David of being guilty of sin, David knew it was God speaking through the prophet. Rather than deny the sin and make it seem as though God is a liar, David confessed. David said he did evil in God’s sight-that is, he agreed with God- “That you may be justified in your words and may overcome when you are judged.” Paul wants the Jews to know God is faithful both when He rewards people and when He judges them.
Despite their failings, the Jews were God’s chosen people, the law He gave them was His unique word, and the rite of the covenant was His chosen sign. They all had deep significance even though the Jews had misread them.
Paul expected the Jews’ claim that because their unfaithfulness highlights and magnifies God’s faithfulness, they shouldn’t be judged. People can creative when rationalizing what is clearly sin. The fact that God exposed their sin and condemned it shows His justice in that He has treated everyone alike, even His chosen people. Far from showing Him to be unfaithful, He is seen to be strictly reliable and just. When David wrote Psalm 51, he was concerned that God might be the dispenser of justice and that His integrity would shine through every critical attack.
Paul challenged their views several times during his ministry, often with mixed results. Sometimes they repented, but most of the time they reacted unfavorably to him and his message. This is understandable because when deeply held views are challenged, reactions are often strong.
Paul’s brutal exposure of their sin was to show the guilt of the Jewish race before God and introduce then to the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Everyone must come to Christ. Some of his opponents claimed that the apostles’ teaching on grace amounted to saying, “I’m saved anyway, so I might as well sin. God’s grace will take care of it.” Paul condemned that distortion of grace.
The Jews should have learned a lesson from Genesis 18:25: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” God is just and will exercise justice even when it means judging His chosen people. He does not need the people of Israel to sin to display His righteousness; it is dependent upon nothing outside Himself.
The phrase, “Let us do evil that good may come” means that those who are released by grace may reject the law. But the end does not justify the means when the means are sinful, evil or righteous. When we admit ou helplessness to God, He accomplishes His desires for His glory alone, in us and through us. He will provide what we need, when we need it most. It might not be special to anyone else, but to us it will be unmistakable evidence that we are walking in the Spirit…even if it’s nothing more than a little bookmark.
God has given us the instruction book He wrote and it is our responsibility to read it and obey it. He has given us a Bible and the freedom to read it. What do we do with it? Is it a coffee table book, a drink coaster, a paperweight or a dust collector? Is it a well-used and well-worn guidebook for living a life in Christ? The Bible will keep us from all kinds of trouble, but only if we read, study and apply it. It is the very Word of God.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 1546-1547)
- Briscoe, D.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 29: Romans (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 71-73)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Stephen Davey, “Walking in the Spirit.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Pastor David McGee, “What Time is It?” Retrieved from www.crossthebrigde.com