Romans Chapter 3 Sermon

Here is my sermon on Romans 3 and Justification. You’ll find my rough notes after the download.

Romans 3 Sermon – Justification (Download Link)

When we last left off, Paul was talking about circumcision or any other outward sign of the law or of being Jewish is worthless toward righteousness if you don’t keep the whole law.

The key issue in this whole section of chapters is the thing that everyone really wants: to be right.

The Pharisees thought that they were right because of the families they were born into. They were kind of like the guy that when you knock on his door and offer to pray for him says “That’s ok, my dad’s a pastor.” And then closes the door in your face.

It might sound like it was pointless to be Jewish at this time, and that the Jews didn’t do any good towards God. That’s not true either. Just like if each one of us is judged by our own faith and not by our families, what good does it do to be raised in a Christian home? It’s still good, but it won’t make you righteous before God.

That is where Paul begins here.

1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar,

This is one of the greatest truths about God. He isn’t whatever we believe Him to be. He is who He is and that’s really who He is. No matter how many people call me Snow White and no matter how many people really think I really am Snow White, I’m still Dan Sullivan. Just because people are confused doesn’t change who I am.

It would be great if that message could go out to all the world. “God isn’t who you think He is! He’s Himself!”

Paraphrase v. 5-8

5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

If my being sinful shows off God’s mercy, if my wickedness makes a great story of forgiveness and redemption that makes God looks good, then what right does God have to judge me for being evil? That’s what Paul is asking here. How can God be just in condemning me if my evil looks good? Again, good is good and evil is condemned. Evil that makes God look good isn’t good, it’s still evil.

Paul’s preaching was so free from a law, that people accused him of saying “let’s do evil so that good will come from it” They accused Jesus of drunkenness and gluttony. These guys lived so free in the Father’s love that the law-makers and the law-keepers couldn’t understand it.

We are all Sinners

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11  no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13  “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14  “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16  in their paths are ruin and misery,
17  and the way of peace they have not known.”
18  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Justified: to be proven right. You did the right thing, that means you are justified.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

This

This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

This

28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Speaking the Truth in Love

The other day a few of us were talking about “speaking the truth in love”. We, of course, were trying to correct a guy that was not doing that. It was a tough conversation because I think the guy was holding onto truth tighter than he was holding onto love. The challenge for me during that conversation was to hold on to truth AND love at the same time. It’s easy to hate a hateful person, but that would put me in league with the hateful person out of hate. I wanted to be in league with him because we are both in Christ.

Later in the day, I looked up that verse. We always quote “speak the truth in love” but what is its context? What else goes with that saying? It turns out a LOT.

The opening of Ephesians 4 is about unity. Paul urges the Ephesian church, from prison, to do whatever they can to maintain the unity of the Holy Spirit by being at peace with each other. It is by humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love that this happens.

That is probably the first red flag. We achieve unity through humility. The further we get away from humility, the further away we will be from unity. At the last supper, when Jesus was addressing the disciples who had spent part of the meal arguing who was the most important, He told them that “all men will know you are my disciples” by their love for one another. Love and unity go hand in hand because you can’t love each other and be fighting.

How about this part:

[11] And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, [12] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
(Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV)

I have heard ‘prophets’ and ‘teachers’ say before that they are ‘just telling the truth.’ I can agree with them. All too often, though, they are speaking the truth without love. Considering the high stakes of Christian unity and the Body of Christ, you would think that truth would not have so killed off love in the Church. 

Love is bearing with others. Love is considering that you don’t have to tell your brother where he is wrong, but you can instead teach by your own lifestyle and loving conversation instead of the truth grenade. Jesus did yell at the scribes and the Pharisees, but that was after a long series of loving face to face conversations. 

Prophets and evangelists (good news tellers) are given to build up the body of Christ. This building up doesn’t happen by chopping off the sick parts and denying friendship with the parts that don’t look like us. Think of how the human body works. If a part is sick or injured or just plain wrong, the body sends white blood cells, antibodies, extra blood and oxygen, platelets, etc until the wound is healed. What if that is how we responded with truth? 

What would happen if we held on to truth (which is Christ) and increased our love? What if we increased our love even more for those that we disagree with, or are even our enemies? That is one of Christ’s most compelling teachings and that fits right in line with these things from Paul and Christ’s words of forgiveness from the cross. 

[15] Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, [16] from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.  
(Ephesians 4:15–16 ESV)