Tonight, we enter night four of our study of Romans. So far, we have studied Paul’s view of his service to the Lord, what happens to humanity when they move away from their purpose, and the futility of depending upon religion to save. This week, we are going to look at chapter three.
The book of Romans does a masterful job of laying out humanity’s purpose for living and what happens when that purpose is not pursued. God did not cease His interaction with humanity upon their rejection of His purpose. He made promises of redemption to humanity through a man named Abraham. Abraham’s descendents would be the receiver and giver of these promises to all mankind. But first, these descendants must be positioned and their nature proven. This process took many, many years. The prophetic proving process occurred through the giving of the Law. The Law proved that the Jewish descendants of Abraham were no better in nature than the Gentiles around them and pointed to God’s solution: a Messiah coming from their descendants who would save them from their sins.
The Law could not change the hearts of the Israelites, but it did have a purpose. Let’s look at the purpose of the Law revealed in Romans:
The Law declares and proves humanity’s nature is evil.
Pulling from scriptures in Ecclesiastes, Psalms, and Isaiah, we are shown that every person who has ever lived has fallen short of God’s purpose for their lives and will continue to do so because their nature is fundamentally evil. This flies in the face of what we are taught in our anti-biblical culture; we are taught that humanity is basically good. This fatal flaw in our self evaluation causes us to err when it comes to our behavior, our attitudes, our knowledge of God, our assessment of His Word, etc. If we don’t believe God, we will create our own reality, which is based upon selfishness and lies. Without God, we are slaves to our sinful nature and are totally responsible for the outcomes that our beliefs produce. The inability to keep God’s law and the desire to reject His truth proves our nature.
The deeds of the Law could not bring righteousness.
Verse 20 of Romans 3 states “that by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight.” First of all, even if someone were to keep the Law in behavior, they would fail in attitude. The Law cannot change the heart of mankind. While the Jews were to keep the Law, what God wanted from them were the principles of faith, hope, and love found in the New Testament.
Galatians is another great companion study to help in understanding this truth. God’s alignment with His people was always to operate relationally. Doing the deeds of the Law could never substitute for love for God, hope in His promises and faith in His Nature.
Now, the topic turns to true righteousness: a righteousness witnessed by the Law and Prophets. This true righteousness comes through God’s unchanging foundation of faith. Faith in what? In God’s promised Savior Jesus Christ! Romans points out two amazing truths about the grace of Christ.
Jesus is both the Just and the Justifier.
Many sins had been committed before Jesus lived and many would be committed after He was born and ascended. These sins must be judged for God to be true to His Nature. Jesus’ substitutionary death paid the price for sin. It brought the rejection, separation, and death to all hope that sin deserved. Jesus’ death proved that God is a Just God. It also provided for the justification of the repentant sinner. This means that the believer is judicially and authoritatively cleared of all charges related to their sin. And, they are declared righteous. So, the cross is the place where justice was satisfied and favor was released.
Jesus life, death, and resurrection fulfilled the Law.
Does faith make the Law void? No, Jesus upheld the Law. His life lived the foundation of the Law – faith, hope, and love perfectly. Never a flaw in attitude or action. His death proved the truth of the Law, fulfilled the justice of the Law, and broke the power of the failure of man. His resurrection released the favor of the Law, restored the communion between God and man spoken of in the Law, and empowered man to fulfill the purpose for which he was created.
Habakkuk 2:4 (KJV)
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