January 28th, 2007
There’s a funny thing that applies generally to laws. If you break the laws, you can get punished. Maybe you get fined or sent to jail, or some sort of licence or freedom which you have might be revoked. But if you keep all the laws, no matter how carefully, if you never speed, and you never jaywalk and you always return your library books by the due date, there is no reward. Any failure to follow the least letter of the law makes you a deviant liable to be punished, but you don’t deserve any reward for obeying the laws because all you have done is what you were supposed to do in the first place.
Pauls Letter to the Romans — Chapter 3
3:1 What advantage is there in being a Jew? What value is there in circumcision? 3:2 There are many advantages. Firstly, Jews were entrusted with the words of God. 3:3 What if some of them did not believe? Will their lack of belief cancel out the faithfulness of God? 3:4 Certainly not! God will remain true, even if every human is a liar. As it is written, “You will be proved right in what you say, and will win when you are judged.”
3:5 If the goodness of God is highlighted by our badness, what should we say? Is God wrong to punish us? I am just repeating what some people say. 3:6 Certainly not! Otherwise, how would God judge the world? 3:7 If my dishonesty highlights the truthfulness of God thereby enhancing his glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 3:8 Why not say, and some people slander us by claiming that we preach this, “Let’s do bad things, in order to cause good?” People who say this are properly condemned.
3:9 So are we better than them? Not at all. We have already accused both Jews and Greeks of being under the power of sin. 3:10 As it is written, “No one is righteous, not even one. 3:11 No one understands. No one is seeking God. 3:12 All have turned away. Together they have become useless. No one does the right thing, not even one.” 3:13 “Their throats are open tombs. They have lied with their tongues.” “The poison of snakes is under their lips.” 3:14 “Their mouths are filled with cursing and bitterness.” 3:15 “Their feet hurry to shed blood. 3:16 Destruction and misery lie along their roads. 3:17 They do not know the way of peace.” 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
3:19 As we know, whatever the law says is said to people who are subject to the law, so that every mouth can be shut, and the whole world can be brought under the judgment of God. 3:20 No human will be justified before God by complying with the law, because through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 3:21 But now there has been revealed a righteousness of God which is external to the law but supported by the law and the prophets. 3:22 This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to everyone who believes. There is no differentiation, 3:23 because all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 3:24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption provided by Christ Jesus, 3:25 who was designated by God to be a payment for sins, through faith in his blood. God showed his justice in overlooking earlier sins, in his patience, 3:26 and he shows his justice at this present time by justifying people who have faith in Jesus.
3:27 So what about boasting? It is eliminated, not by a law or by actions, but by a law of faith. 3:28 We declare that a person is justified by faith regardless of the requirements of the law. 3:29 Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not also the God of Gentiles? Yes, of Gentiles also, 3:30 because there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised through faith. 3:31 Do we then cancel the law through faith? Not at all! We reinforce the law.