[Dec 13]--Semper Fidelis

Romans 3:1-4

If you didn’t recognize the title, then I know at least one thing about you: You've never been in the U.S. Marine Corps, nor anyone in your family. It’s Latin for “always faithful,” and it’s the motto for the U.S.M.C. (often shortened to “Semper Fi”).

Faithfulness is the seventh aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit. MacArthur has a pretty simple definition: “loyalty and trustworthiness.” It’s similar to honesty, but we’re not going to get into that because we’re going to examine that virtue in a few days.

All around us we see the results of the rarity of this. The divorce rate is a measurement of it. Politicians and high officials are caught violating their oath and public trust. As I write this, there’s a PFC in the Army who’s accused (pretty credibly) of passing along thousands of classified documents to an internet provider who made them public, to the very probable harm of personal lives and the efforts of the U.S. government to keep us safe.

Of course none of us can claim real innocence in this. We’ve all broken our word and disappointed someone who intimately trusted us at some time or another.

And of course that’s a great segue to the only One who’s the exception to that almost universal rule. And it leads us to today’s passage.

Paul here was discussing the advantages the Jews had, and their national rejection of the Messiah whom God had sent. We just finished going over all that before, so we’re not doing it now. But we need to know the context of the point he was trying to make.

They had the Scriptures and other advantages over every other group in human history. Yet they rejected Jesus (or Yeshua, as they called him). Does this mean that God’s plan had failed? As the apostle put it, “Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?” And there’s that phrase again which we talked about before: Me genoito. It’s translated as “Not at all!” and that really understates the impact. It’s the strongest possible negative in the Greek, and there’s no simple English word or phrase that captures it. But the closest would be “Not no but heck no!” in the unedited version.

It doesn’t matter what people do or don’t do, because the Lord is always faithful to his word. When he promises something, heaven and earth will collapse in on themselves before one syllable is proven false. The Jews were unfaithful, but that doesn’t mean that God had dropped the ball on what he'd pledged.

I love the next phrase that Paul uses—“Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” It’s not true that “One man and God makes a majority.” It’s much more accurate to say that “God plus no one makes a majority.” He is the majority. If all of humanity—past, present and future—could testify with one voice with the opposite opinion, then that would mean that all humanity was lying or confused.

Why? Because he is Truth. Our Savior is the Truth made flesh. The abstract idea, the principle of truth? It took on human form and has a name. Everything is true or not true inasmuch as it conforms to him. As C.S. Lewis put it, he could no more be wrong and you right than water could flow uphill.

This is all well and good, but what does it have to do with me? Well, there’s a good practical application in the last verse of this passage. One day all of humanity is going to be judged. Every person who stands before this bench will be stripped naked of all pretenses, every excuse, and every mask we’ve worn. They'll be judged by Truth Incarnate, namely Christ.

On that day, if you’re not covered by the blood of Jesus, you’re cooked (literally). His righteousness will be the only thing that can save anyone on that day. Are you covered? If you're not sure, check this out.

The second practical application is pretty comforting compared to the first one. When Jesus says something, we can believe it. For example when he says that if we believe in him we’ll never be condemned, we can rest on that. Any other promise that he makes is much surer than the sun rising tomorrow.

And finally, this is a call for us to examine ourselves. Are we showing ourselves to be followers of the One who is the Truth Incarnate? Is that on display with how we keep our promises? On how faithful we are to our commitments? On how well people can rely on and trust us?

Lord Jesus, I thank you that you do keep your promises. Please make me like you.

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