Monday, August 29, 2022

2022.08.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 3:5–8

Read Romans 3:5–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What do we have (Romans 3:5)? What does it demonstrate? What two questions does the apostle ask? What qualifier does he make for asking something so irreverent? How does he answer again (Romans 3:6, cf. Romans 3:4)? What question does he ask to prove it? What increases through what in Romans 3:7? Unto what end result? What question does a sinner then ask about this? What else do they ask (Romans 3:8)? What were they suggesting that this doctrine incentivizes them to do? Whom were they reporting and affirming spoke like this? What verdict does the apostle declare about them?

If doing wickedly glorifies God by affirming His evaluation of us, why shouldn’t we just do wickedly? In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that people who think God’s glory in condemning us is a good reason to keep sinning just show how righteous God’s condemnation of them really is. 

God is righteous to inflict wrath, Romans 3:5–6. It belongs to the extreme wickedness of man that we think that God should be grateful for how glorious we make Him look. Behind the first question in Romans 3:5 is the idea that it was my unrighteousness that made God look righteous. This is utterly preposterous and irreverent, for God is righteous in Himself, and whatever our response to Him would demonstrate His righteousness—precisely because He is righteous.

Still, in our flesh, there is this horrible idea that somehow we have made Him look righteous. And even worse, there is a wicked judging of God Himself (!) to call Him unjust for pouring out His holy fury upon sinners who are doing Him such a “favor.” Indeed, it would be unjust of Him if He did not pour out His holy fury upon every sin!

This, He has done already at the cross. This, He will do again when He judges the cosmos (Romans 3:6). And won’t this demonstrate His righteousness then? And will it be wrong for Him to pour out that fury at that time? No, God is righteous to inflict His wrath!

God is righteous to judge as sinners those whose lies display His truthRomans 3:7. Now, Romans 3:7 applies this to the situation in Romans 3:1-4. Whenever a circumcised sinner failed to believe, he showed the need for the circumcision of his heart. Whenever a baptized sinner fails to believe, he shows the need for regeneration by the Spirit and the washing away of sin by union with Christ that the Spirit gives us through faith. So, all of those who have been members of God’s people (whether the commonwealth of Israel, Ephesians 2:12; or the household of God, Ephesians 2:19) and still perish end up giving the lie to their membership, while showing the truth of the sign that was put upon them for that membership. All of this the apostle described in Romans 3:4 as God being true but man the liar.

Now, that same unconverted member is speaking in Romans 3:7 as demonstrated by the word “my” in “my lie.” And he is judging God (!) for judging him as a sinner (!!). As long as there have been covenant signs, there have been either those who think that only the regenerate should receive them, or those who think that everyone who receives them is regenerated. But the signs themselves are designed to tell the truth of God that this is not the case. And the apostle here plainly condemns the one who thinks that his sinfulness is excused by the fact that his baptism says that he is a sinner.

Too often, the author of this devotional has heard the logic that we should not be so offended by sin, since our baptisms (or the gospel affirmed by our baptisms) remind us that even everyone in the church sins. God forbid! If thinking this way about circumcision and the need for God to cut away our fleshly hearts was condemned, how much more must we condemn the use of baptism to “normalize” sin! For in baptism, God affirms that only union with Christ, by Spirit-given faith, can deliver from sin’s penalty, power, and presence. If this is what God says about my sin, then I must HATE being a sinner, not excuse it!

God is righteous to condemn all who justify sin, and especially those who use the gospel to do soRomans 3:8. Finally, in verse 8, there are those who go even beyond excusing sin by the gospel. These promote sin by the gospel: “let us do evil that good may come.” We should not be surprised that the response of an unregenerate sinner to the gospel of free grace is to take it as an encouragement to sin. But the wicked project such ideas onto others, and these projected it onto the apostle himself. Those who are in love with sin and accuse the gospel for their wicked love are justly condemned!

When are you tempted to feel like your sin is ok? What does God think of it? What should you think of it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise Your holiness and justness for Your hatred of sin. Forgive us for being so sinful that we would take Your glory, Your sign, or Your gospel as an excuse for sin. Truly, You would be righteous to condemn us. So be merciful instead, through Christ, and forgive us for His sake, AMEN!

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