Our Faith Uploads the Law—Romans 3:29-31

"Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law" (Romans 3:29-31)

After Paul made an amazing declaration of faith alone being access to the righteousness of God, he wraps ups the third chapter by asking...does faith nullify the Law? His answer, God Forbid! Not the answer we would expect in light of what he has just said. Does the Apostle contract himself in this passage? My answer...Absolutely not!

If faith doesn't nullify the Law, then how does faith uphold the Law? In light of this quandary, we must ask ourselves what the purpose of the Law was? Unless we understand this, these verses seem to contract themselves. Paul says many things throughout his letters in reference to the Law. But in Galatians 3, he addresses this particular question specifically. Verse 24 says it all, "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." ( Galatians 3:24 ). The King James Bible calls the Law our schoolmaster, which trains and leads us towards Christ, so that we can be justified by faith.

If we understand the purpose of the Law, then this verse does not give cause to question Paul's intent. When we understand that the Law showed us that we were never capable of fulfilling the righteous requirements, then we fall upon the mercy of God to save us. This act of faith, produced by the Law, fulfils its purpose. When we accomplish the purpose of the Law through faith, then we naturally uphold it, never to nullify it.

Paul's point... both the Jews and Gentiles access God through that very same faith. The Jews, through the faith of their father Abraham. The Gentiles, through their new acquired faith. In both instances, the same trusting faith is a firmly relying in Jesus Christ alone. By doing this, this confirms, establishes and uploads the Law's original intent. Today, I praise God for instituting this brilliant plan for us from the very beginning!

Posted in Romans 3

Justification Comes By Faith, Not Works—Romans 3:28

"For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law"(Romans 3:28)

Did you know that observance of the Law has nothing to do with justification? This comes as a shock to many people, but the truth is, that the Bible says, man is justified and made upright by faith independent of and distinctly apart from good deeds. In other words, there is nothing that you can do to ever earn your salvation.

A friend of mine was telling me a story about one of his employees who was searching for the truth and as they were talking, the employee recited a long lineage of the things he had done to earn his salvation. My friend said something to him that has stuck with me. He told him that salvation was a lot simpler than he was making it out to be. It wasn't what he did to earn it, it was what Jesus did to provide it.

Why do we make it so hard? Why do we complicate the simple truth of God's Word? Why do we want to add to what Jesus already did for us? Paul told the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..." Believing is all it takes, but believing takes faith. Faith and faith alone is what is required of us. So in that sense, my friend was completely right... it [salvation] is a lot simpler than measuring up to the standards of the Law.

Paul's main point here, is that God did what we could not do. When we put our faith in Him, then and only then are we justified before God. It has nothing to do with the Law. We were never able to fulfill it or even come close to it. Therefore, the Law pointed out in us, the need for a savior. When we abandon the things we do as the means of salvation and turn and put our faith in Jesus for salvation then we are justified by Him. What great news this is!

Posted in Romans 3

Boasting is Excluded—Romans 3:27

"Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith" (Romans 3:27)

When I use to wait tables for a living, I use to work with a man that would send out a press release every time he did something. If he cleaned the coffee pot or delivered food to a table for you he would make sure you knew about it. He was constantly looking for a pat on the back for the tasks he performed. It was exhausting working with him, as much appreciation as he sought from co-workers.

Many people are like this, a lot of times we assign value to ourselves bases on the good deeds we do. Not only do we want recognition from our peers, many times we act as if the world owes us for our benevolence. Because of this mindset we could go through life relying on our good deeds to get us to heaven unless we know the truth from God's Word.

Paul is stressing to us that all of our good deeds and adherence to the Law is not worth boasting about. Our self-righteousness is excluded and ruled out entirely on the basis of faith. Paul just made a marvelous declaration in the previous verses that the righteousness we need has been provided to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul affirms that through faith in His blood we are justified and reconciled to God. So because of faith, boasting in our good deeds is useless, because faith overshadows works much in every way.

Today, be thankful that God does not respond to what we do and how we fall short. Be thankful that we respond to what God did. We don't need pats on the back from our co-workers, our value comes solely through Jesus. Through faith, we are righteous by the His blood. That is a good truth no matter which way you look at it!

Posted in Romans 3

God is both Just and the Justifier—Romans 3:26

"...He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus"(Romans 3:26)

This is impressive! It would be easy to glaze over this verse and not give it a second thought. However, based on the previous verses, that in God's forbearance with the sinner, he left sins committed under the Old Testament unpunished, this verse gives us insight into how and why he did this.

God, operating under His own laws, did not wipe out mankind after sin corrupted His creation to start over from scratch. It would have gone against his character, his holiness and his righteousness. Because God is holy he cannot tolerate sin. His holiness required that he judge sin. The transgression and what it caused, created a barrier between us and God. So God's justice was demonstrated in the fact that he judged sin. But His mercy was demonstrated in the fact that he justified the sinner.

I heard a preacher use this example several years ago to illustrate this point and it has resonated with me ever since. Let's say you went before a judge of this land because you were guilty of an offense. The judge would have to pass down a sentence for that offense to fulfill their obligation to the law or standard of society. Upon finding you guilty, the judge could not dismiss the charge without punishment and still be acting on behalf of the judicial system.

However, after the he pronounced judgment, if the judge was to come down off the bench and offer the payment for the offense, he would be the justifier of the offender. He would be operating in accordance with the law, because he was just in passing down the sentence. But, he would also be operating in grace by taking the punishment or making restitution for the transgression.

So the judge is both fulfilling his obligation to the law in sentencing  the offender and also showing mercy to the offender in making the necessary restitution to society for him. The same is true with God. He is both just, because he did not dismiss sin, he pronounced judgment upon it. And He is the justifier because he came down from Heaven and made the necessary recompense for the sin, through the blood of Jesus shed upon the cross. So He is both just and the justifier wrapped up in one... which is extraordinary!

Today, if you have put your faith in Jesus and what he accomplished for you on the cross, you have been fully justified in accordance with God's law. We know that He is both just and the justifier and that He operates in accordance to His Law. So no matter what comes our way, we can rest assured in Him and in the operation of His word.

Posted in Romans 3

The Sacrifice of Atonement, Through Faith in His Blood—Romans 3:25

"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished" (Romans 3:25)

I have heard many people say, that the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and anger, vastly different then the God portrayed in the New Testament. However this is not true and this passage of scripture supports that. God dealt with the people who lived before Christ in restraint, patience and tolerance looking forward to the time when Jesus would do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

God presented Jesus as the propitiation for our sins. Another way to put that is that God showed His mercy to the sinner by atoning for our sins with His blood shed on the cross. The Jew was familiar with the sacrificial system because the Law required that nearly everything be cleansed in blood. ( Hebrews 9:22 ) But the reality was, that the blood of animals was never able to take away sin. ( Hebrews 10:4 )

Why was there a need for a different sacrifice other than animals? First because the sacrifices prescribed in the Law was a type and a shadow of the things to come ( Colossians 2:17 ). One way to look at this is like writing a check to pay for groceries. The check itself isn't worth anything, but when the amount is filled out and the check is signed, then the check is the promise of payment. The check can be cashed in for the value assigned to it. However, it is only good if there is money in the bank to cover it. In the same way, the sacrificial system was like the check in this example. It was only as valuable as the reality was to back it up. Jesus was that reality and the real sacrifice for sin. The blood of the bulls and goats served as a token for the real sacrifice that Jesus would pay. It was the type and shadow and vague representation of what was to come.

If the blood of animals wasn't able to pay for sin, why was Jesus' blood able to do it? First because Jesus was sinless His blood was able to justify us ( Romans 5:9 ). Justified means, just as if I'd never sinned. So Jesus' blood restores us to a state before sin corrupted it. Secondly because Jesus' blood made peace between us and God ( Colossians 1:20 ). By His blood He reconciled all things back to Himself thus making peace. And lastly, Jesus' blood brings about the forgiveness of sin ( Hebrews 10:18 ). So since there was peace between us and God, we were restored to a state before sin corrupted us and we were completely forgiven once for all, The blood literally appeased God and reconciled us to Him through Faith. Animal blood was never able to do this.

By sending Jesus as our sacrifice of atonement or propitiation for sin, God demonstrated his justice and righteousness. Because by His forbearance he left the sins committed before Jesus' sacrifice unpunished. There was complete remission of sin for all of those people who lived before Christ. The Greek work for remission is 'aphesis' which literally means, deliverance, freedom; liberty; release from bondage; forgiveness; pardon of sins, letting them go as if they had not been committed; remission of penalty. So even though these sins were an offense to Him, in his restraint and in the face of provocation he completely passed over and ignored these sins without punishment looking forward to the time when Jesus would pay for them.

To me, this sounds exactly like the God written about in the New Testament. Forgiving, loving, patient and willing to do whatever it takes to bridge the gap between us. Today I praise God that He sent Jesus to be my Savior. I thank God for the Bible, so we have the means to read, understand and know Him. And I thank Him for redeeming me fully, completely and eternally!

Posted in Romans 3