The main point of Romans chapter two was to show the Jews that they were in the same pit as the Gentiles. They trusted in the fact that they had the Law of Moses, their ancestor Abraham, and their circumcision, and that was all they needed. Not so. They broke God’s law repeatedly, circumcision only does any good if it’s on the inside, not just physical, and as he shows later on, being a physical descendant of Abraham is no guarantee of being considered right before God. If anything, having the Law made them worse off and only served to condemn them more.
Before he finishes up with the bad news and gets to the Good News, however, he needs to address a pressing question that someone might raise: Does being a Jew bring any advantage?
Paul’s unequivocal answer: YES!!! Now, there were a lot of blessings he could've named. They'd had physical blessings in the time of Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and up to the time of Solomon. When they followed the Lord, they were unstoppable on the battlefield and enjoyed God’s protection and provision. But most important, above all else, they were “entrusted with the very words of God.” The Lord of the universe came down and spoke directly with Abraham and Moses, and those words were recorded for all time. Anyone had access to this. They weren’t secret messages available to a select few. Now granted, many people were illiterate, but the Lord had provided priests and Levites to provide instruction from his word. This word, which he'd given no one else in all history, revealed things about the Lord which no one else knew: The story of creation, who God was/is, his character, his standards, his plan for the nations, rules to govern a society, etc.
And the Jews were entrusted with this. Humanly speaking, if they'd dropped their responsibility, this knowledge about God would be theoretically lost, and all humanity would continue to suffer in darkness and ignorance, just spiraling down like chapter one describes.
Look, I'd never contend that societies influenced by the Bible have ever been perfect. People are sinful, and even the ones who want to obey his instructions do so very imperfectly. But if you take the time to compare societies which have been heavily influenced by the Scriptures versus those which have not been, you see a huge qualitative difference in every aspect.
But the Jews hadn’t followed his instructions; they’d proven unfaithful to their calling. Did this somehow nullify God’s promises? Did their unfaithfulness prove God unfaithful? Paul responds with the strongest negative possible in the Greek: Me Genoito. It’s translated as “Certainly not!” here, and “God forbid” elsewhere. There’s no exact equivalent in English. The closest--as my Greek Professor put it--would be “HECK NO!!!”
Our faithlessness—no matter what we do--never refutes God’s faithfulness. If all of humanity who ever existed in all the history of the world said “A” and God says “Non-A,” then “Let God be true, and every human being a liar!” As C. S. Lewis put it, we get our reasoning power itself from him, so we cannot be right and he wrong any more than water can rise above its source or a tree branch grow when cut off from the tree. He's the Source of all Truth, all justice, all righteousness. To the extent that anything or anyone has any of these things, they get them from him.
He's accountable to no one, and all are accountable to him and will stand before him to be judged. That’s what the second part of verse 4 is talking about, the quote from Psalm 51.
Paul sets up a “Devil’s Advocate” argument: Well, if our faithlessness just highlights his faithfulness, then why is anyone condemned? Isn’t it a good thing that God be glorified? He says that some are misquoting him as saying “Let us do evil that good may result.” He addresses this more fully in chapter six, but right now he just takes a moment to thoroughly repudiate it. Anyone who says anything like this is showing—at the very least—that they don’t understand the Message of Jesus. Most probably anyone who’s making this claim is showing enmity towards God’s truth: That’s why he says that they’re justly condemned. Antinomianism is one of the greatest hindrances of the Good News and a very effective tool of the Enemy of our souls.
So, do you ever listen to his lies? Do you take his grace as a license to sin? Are you willing to go along with the “majority opinion” when it stands with one voice against God’s truth? And do you value his word as highly as you ought?
Father, your word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path. May I cling to it like a man in the ocean clings to the only life preserver he has.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete