In Lesson Six we saw that the special pleadings of the religious sinner were rejected, and that he was found to be even more guilty than the others.
We now attend the final session of the court. The evidences will be brought in, the voice of the law heard and the Judge’s verdict given. Before the case is dosed however, objections are raised in chapter 3:1-5. It is as if some one, roused by the failure of the Jew to put across his pleas of exemption from punishment, rises to his feet. Resenting the blow dealt to Jewish pride he is ready to take the place of a clever lawyer in their defence. He has three great arguments and these he presents in the form of questions. He must be silenced and his arguments must be met before the case is settled.
The first argument is a question of privilege vs. 1. Surely the Jew has some advantage, says this disputant. There must be some profit in having ordinances. You will certainly acknowledge that.
The Answer, vs. 2. Indeed the Jew has advantages. The greatest of all these advantages is that he possesses the Word of God. There is no greater privilege than that.
The second argument is one regarding God’s faithfulness vs. 3. The oracles committed to Israel contain promises to them. Now what if some Jews did not believe—God must do as He promised and does not that promise hold good for all Israelites? Was it not given to the nation as a whole? Will His faith (that is His plighted word) become mere empty sounds because of man’s sin?
The Answer, vs. 4. No one will ever be able to charge God with breach of promise. If there is any untruth, it is on man’s side. God must be right, otherwise He would not be God. David owned the justice of God, he took part with God against himself in Psalm 51 and finds himself guilty “without one plea.” This is the only way blessing can come to a sinner.
The third argument, vs. 5. The right of God to judge sin. If as you say our unrighteousness commends the righteousness of God is God really righteous in judging the sin that magnifies Him in this way? How can God be just in judging sin when grace abounds through it?
The Answer, vs. 6-8. Certainly God is righteous in judging sin. If He were not He could not judge the world. Sin remains sin even tho God be glorified in it. Have you never seen the glory of the sun displayed in the rainbow across the dark thunder clouds? But the black cloud is none the less a dark thunder cloud. God is glorified in His grace, a grace that is greater than all our sin; but does that make the sinner less guilty? Of course not. Does anyone say, Let us do evil that good may come? God will judge any who speak thus and act on such an unholy principle.
It seems strange that Paul should have been charged with saying that. It may have been because of his ever emphasizing the sovereign grace of God much to the dislike of legalistic teachers. All blessing must come from God since man is totally corrupt and his works are either “wicked” or “dead”. But man’s responsibility is not set aside by his inability to work good, nor by the fact that grace meets him in his sin and saves him.
Now that the objector has been silenced we have the
Summing up of the Case
and the statement of the court’s findings in the judgment against man. On three different occasions God has put on record His verdict about man. The first occasion was in Noah’s day when it was plainly seen that God’s punishment of the impenitent does not change man’s nature. Gen. 8:18-21.
On the second occasion “the Lord looked down from Heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” The result of the investigation is recorded. “They are all gone aside, they are together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Ps. 14:3.
Now, in our chapter on the third occasion we hear God’s testimony about man and the solemn indictment is drawn up and the verdict given.
1. Write the expression “the faith of God” (vs. 3) in other words which are found in the lesson.
2. What about man is proven from the writings of Moses, David and Paul?
3. Make a list of the things “of God” found in Romans 3:1-8.
4. Who will rise up in the judgment and condemn these religious sinners? (Matt. 12).