The Way - Day 110 (Romans 3)

Daily Reading:
Romans 3
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
As a group, use Romans 3:23-25 to write a summary of the Gospel's message. Reflect on this Truth throughout your week.
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 37:4-5
OPTION 2: Proverbs 15:16-17
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:45-46
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Romans 3 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Romans 3:1-20
Paul has used his first few words to the Christians at Rome to provide a deeper understanding of the gospel (death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the sins of mankind). The very first concept he expounded upon is that all men are morally corrupt and if left to their own devices will stray far away from God (Romans 1:18-32). By his own choice, man has rejected the truth which God has revealed (1:19-20) leaving him without excuse before a holy God (1:20b) and therefore sentencing him to judgment (2:2). The judgment of God can sometimes be felt in this present life, but there will also be a final future judgment where all those who have rejected the gospel will be cast into the lake of fire (2:5-6, 8-9, 16; see also Revelation 20:11-15). Although Paul had described the extremes of straying far from God (1:18-32), he also reminded those whose outward actions may have been pure but their hearts corrupt, that they were subject to the same judgment as the pagans (2:1-24). Salvation from the power and penalty of sin was not found in human effort, but through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ who took the punishment for sin upon Himself.

At the conclusion of Romans 2, Paul had specifically written to his Jewish readers who may be tempted to view their circumcision and nationality as the thing which connected them to God; however, Paul makes it clear that circumcision is of no benefit if it does not lead to a changed life (2:25-27). What makes a person one of God's children does not rest in the outward works of the flesh, but the inward cleansing of the heart which leads to moral actions (2:28-29). Some of his Jewish readers may then think, "What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?" (3:1) In other words, what is the point of being a Jew if outward rituals do not benefit and there is no difference from the Gentile? Paul calms their fears and reminds them that they are still God's chosen people who received the words of God about salvation (3:2) and even though some of the Jews rebelled, God was still faithful to His people (3:3-4).

Paul did not want the Jews to take advantage of their special relationship with God by engaging in sinful lifestyles in order to demonstrate the righteousness and grace of God (3:5). Choosing a life of sin to highlight the forgiveness and mercy of God is never acceptable (3:6). There were many false teachers during the early church that had spread this erroneous teaching and had cheapened the grace of God by endorsing freedom to sin because of God forgiveness (3:7-8). Jews were a people whom God set aside to demonstrate His blessings upon those who obey and love Him, but if they chose to continue in sin they would encounter the same judgment as anyone else.

Now Paul turned his attention back to the Roman Christians informing them that they were no better than the Jews and are also guilty of breaking God's law (3:9). Jew and Gentile alike are all under sin. The Old Testament confirms this fact declaring, "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one" (3:10-12; see also Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3). All men are evil and sinful before God and there is no one who can claim otherwise. Paul even goes into detail about the wickedness of all men - speaks lies (3:13), speaks harsh and bitter words (3:14), hates others (3:15), walks in his own destructive ways (3:16-17), and has no respect for God (3:18).

When a person realizes his guilt before God, whether through the written law or their conscience, they must also recognize that they have no defense before Him (3:19). Man naturally wants to defend his actions, but his mouth must be silenced when he becomes aware that that he is guilty of breaking God's law. Instead of thinking he can find forgiveness through obedience to the law (which Paul has already said is impossible), an individual must see that God's law only has the ability to expose sin.

At this point in reading Paul's letter to the Romans, a person must first realize the extent of their sinfulness. Sin has affected every human being, causing him to be guilty before God and deserving of judgment, whether he is Jew or Gentile. Those who continue to justify their sin will never be ready to receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:21-31
So far, the first three chapters of Paul's letter to the Roman Christians had reminded them about the extent of man's sin against a holy God (1:18-32; 2:17-27) in spite of His repeated efforts to reveal the truth to them (1:18-23). Instead of repenting and committing to live a pure life, men would often follow their human instincts and fall further away from God. Because of man's rebellion and pride, God rightfully holds men accountable for their sin which ultimately must be paid for by death (2:1-16; 6:23). In case anyone, Jew or Gentile, thought he could earn favor with God through good works, Paul made it clear that all have sinned and are therefore guilty of breaking God's law (3:1-20). The Jews particularly believed that following the rituals and traditions of the ceremonial law automatically placed them in a right standing before God; however, Paul stated that the law also had a moral aspect which they had not kept. Paul declared, "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified [to declare righteous] in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (3:20). In summary, Paul has written that man is sinful and needs righteousness to be delivered from the consequences of sin; but he cannot earn righteousness on his own so he desperately needs righteousness from another source.

With these summaries in mind, the reader is now ready to learn how he can obtain the righteousness needed in order to be saved from the power and penalty of sin. Paul writes, "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." (3:21-23). A person is not made righteous before God by keeping the law, but rather by putting their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to explain that righteousness was provided to the sinner without any cost because Jesus paid the penalty through His death, which was necessary to satisfy the wrath of God upon sin (3:24). Like a prisoner who is bound, sinners are held captive by sin but have been released (redeemed) through the payment of another (propitiation), Jesus Christ the righteous (3:25). However, that release from the penalty of sin is contingent upon the repentance of the sinner and faith in God's provision for forgiveness (3:26).

Since righteousness is only found through faith in Jesus Christ, no one could boast that they had obtained salvation through their own merits and Paul wanted to make sure his readers understood this truth (3:27). He anticipates their reaction to this teaching, so he emphatically states, "...a man is justified [made righteous] by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (3:28). Does this mean that the law is no longer necessary? No. God's law is extremely important because it provides the knowledge of right and wrong, the penalty for doing wrong, man's inability to keep it, and ultimately draws people to seek righteousness through Jesus Christ (3:31; see also Galatians 3:24-26). The law exposes our sinfulness, but the blood of Jesus Christ covers the sins of those who evidence faith in Him.

Dear God, thank You for providing righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ for without it I would still be a slave to sin and its penalties.