THE BOOK OF ROMANS
SIN AND CONDEMNATION: THE WORLD’S NEED TO GET RIGHT WITH GOD 1:18-3:20
Rev. Louis M. Murphy, Sr.
September 6, 2023
The Arguments of the Religionist (Jew) Against a Heart Religion
Introduction: Paul has said there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, between a religionist and other men (Romans 1-3). All men stand before God guilty of sin and condemned. Now at this point Paul imagines the religionist seeing exactly what he is saying. The religionist also sees the tremendous weight of Paul’s argument; therefore, he strains to counter Paul with three arguments, arguments often made by Christian religionists and church members who profess Christ and attend church only enough to salve their consciences.
The application of this passage concerns every man. If a man is born a Jew or a Christian (the right nationality), if a man is born into a Jewish or Christian family (the right heritage), if a man claims to be a Jew or a Christian religionist, and he is still not acceptable to God, what profit is there in being a religionist?
Paul’s answer is simple: the advantages are great. The Jew and Christian are highly privileged, especially in that God has committed His Word to them (Romans 3:2; Romans 9:4-5). They have the privilege…
These are enormous privileges. A man born within a nation and a family that has God’s Word has every advantage in coming to God and in living for God. In fact, such a man could have no greater privilege. His privileges are so great that he is left without excuse if he fails to live for God.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).
God promised the Jews a special place and special privileges through Abraham and his seed. If some Jews do not believe God’s promises and God condemns them, isn’t He breaking His promise to Abraham and his seed? Isn’t He voiding His Word and Covenant and making Himself a liar? God’s Word could not be based on heart religion and on moral character alone. There has to be something else, something outward—a rite (circumcision, baptism, church membership)—that shows we are religious (Jews). If we go through the rite or ritual, then God is bound to accept us. He has promised to so accept us. He is not going to break His Word.”
The application of this question concerns every religionist. The thinking religionist poses the same objection and question: “If you say some religionists do not believe and are condemned, doesn’t that void God’s Word and make God a liar? God’s Word promises the religious person special privileges and the hope of eternal life. His Word tells us to believe Christ and to possess His Word, be baptized and join the fellowship of the church. If we do that and God still condemns us, is He not voiding His Word and becoming a liar?”
⇒ God forbid.
⇒ God will be faithful. His Word and promise of salvation will stand even if every man lies about believing and lies about giving his heart to serve Jesus.
⇒ God will prove His Word: He will be justified and proven faithful in what He has said. He will still save any person who gives his heart to Jesus and obeys Jesus.
⇒ In fact, God will overcome; He will prove His Word another way. He will judge all who make a false profession and who judge Him and His Word, who accuse Him of being unfaithful and voiding His Word. David himself said that God would judge the unfaithful or disobedient man (Psalm 51:4). David had sinned greatly, not keeping the commandments of God, so God judged David and charged him with sin. David did the right thing: he confessed his sin and repented and began to live righteously. But David did something else: he declared that God’s charge and judgment against him were just, that God was perfectly justified. And God was, for God is always just, and He is always justified in what He says and does.
The point is twofold.
The problem is in doing what God says, in coming to God as He dictates. God demands that men give their hearts and lives to His Son, Jesus Christ. God demands that men live for Christ, worship and obey Him. But this is too hard for men. They want an easier salvation. They want to be able to do something, get it over with, and then be free to live as they wish, giving God some attention here and there. Therefore, men prefer to be saved by being religious: being baptized, joining a church, buying a Bible, and then being free to go about their own lives. But this is not enough for God; it is not doing everything that God says; it is not giving one’s heart and life to live for Jesus Christ by obeying, worshipping, and serving Him. Therefore, God…
Note another fact. God fulfills His Word by judging the religionists. God has told men how to live and what would happen if they failed. Therefore, He is “justified in His sayings” by following through and by judging the religionists.
⇒ God will not void and break His Word. He will fulfill it all.
⇒ God is justified in fulfilling His Word by doing exactly what He said, that is, in accepting men only as He said and in judging men if they do not come to Him as He commands.
DEEPER STUDY: Unbelief— Man, Errors (3:3) This is one of two common but gross deceptions of men—that unbelief makes a thing ineffective and voids it. A man argues: “If I deny something, ignore it, refuse to accept it, push it out of my mind, it will not be, nor will it come to pass.” Some even think of God’s Word in this way. They think they can deny and reject some part of it and it will not be so. They accept the Scriptures that stress the love of God and allow them to live as they wish, but they reject the Scriptures that stress the supernatural and miraculous power of God and the desperate need of man to be saved from sin, death, and an eternal hell. They reject the Scriptures that demand that man live responsibly.
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).
“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Luke 21:33).
“If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).
DEEPER STUDY: Judging— Judgment (3:4) Men judge God. They judge Him to be true or false. They judge whether He exists or does not exist. They judge His Word. But in the final hour, God will end up judging men. He will overcome all those who judged Him to be less than He is and less than what He said.
“But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things” (Romans 2:2).
“For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 12:25).
The answer is fourfold.
What this argument fails to see is that genuine love is just. Love expressed unjustly is not love; it is license and indulgence. God’s love is perfect, absolutely unbiased and impartial. It is shed upon all (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). It is not license and indulgence; neither can it be, not in its perfection. Neither can it allow license and indulgence. God’s love is completely and perfectly just. It demands justice. In no respect can it be unjust by failing to judge. Neither can God be accused of being unloving when He executes justice (Romans 2:2-16). God’s love is just; God’s justice is the demonstration of perfect love. The cross was where God exacted His perfect justice upon His Son, and it is the perfect example of the glorious truth. The cross is the perfect demonstration of both the love and the justice of God.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
Men shall be judged and condemned if they have rejected the love and salvation of God provided in His Son, Jesus Christ.
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32).
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9).
“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7).
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15).
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:12).
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12).