“Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’ Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—‘Let us do evil that good may result’? Their condemnation is just!” (Romans 3:7-8).

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Continued from My Roman Holiday: Romans 2.

“What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: ‘So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge’” (Romans 3:3-4). The apostle Paul begins by defending the riches of God’s kindness, forbearance and patience, and the obedience that comes from faith. Again, the apostle makes the case that salvation is by faith, alone, in Jesus Christ. Moreover, all of humanity is corrupt; neither Jews nor Gentiles can be justified, before God, by their deeds. “What shall we conclude then? Do we [Jews] have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin” (Romans 3:9).

“Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’ Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—‘Let us do evil that good may result’? Their condemnation is just!” (Romans 3:7-8). The apostle Paul asks his audience what was clearly a rhetorical question, “Someone might argue?” It is easy, for us today, to fall into the faulty premise that the early church had it all together; that everyone was on the same page, but by the third chapter of Romans, it is already painfully clear that neither was the case. Finally, Paul responds to this slanderous argument sharply; the apostle does not mince words in his response to what amounted to a willful abuse of God’s abounding grace. “Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—‘Let us do evil that good may result’? Their condemnation is just!” (Romans 3:8). What a legalistic approach to the gospel of grace; no wonder the apostle not only struck it down flat, but then went on to remind his readers, again, that no one is justified by adherence to the law; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Paul explains that the gospel upholds the law in a way that leaves no room for boasting in ourselves. “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26).

Romans 3 is full of any number of other revelations and wonderful truths worth exploring, but I have written what I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me to write.

Romans 3 speaks into our lives today; it is easy to forget that believers in Paul’s day wrestled with many of the same questions about grace as we do today. But the apostle is clear that salvation comes by faith in Christ, alone. As I embark on my Roman holiday, I look forward to the journey ahead. I found Paul’s point on mankind’s faulty thinking, and our desperate need for the gospel of grace, on full display. More importantly, though, I saw God’s faithfulness on display too. Until next time, and Romans 4.

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