God's Righteousness in Judging the World (Romans Sermon 13 of 120)
April 02, 2000 | Andrew Davis
Judgment, Justice of God
I. Introduction: The Controversial Nature of the Gospel
Please take your Bibles if you would and open to Romans chapter 3. As we move into the third chapter in Romans... See, we are making progress, I just want to encourage you in that. We've seen in two chapters of the Gospel as Paul unfolds it a marvelous work of the Holy Spirit, as Paul is preparing every person on the face of the Earth to receive the grace of God which is available only in Jesus Christ. Now, last week Paul took us through some controversial passages. Now, they're not controversial to us because we're Gentiles but if you had been a Jew in Paul's day it would have been very controversial to hear this apostle, this Saul of Tarsus, come by and tell you that your circumcision meant nothing at all because of your disobedience to the law. And not only that, in verse 27 of chapter 2, that some Gentiles who believe this message are actually going to stand up and judge you on Judgment Day because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Now, that's controversial. And in this way it seems that Paul just levels the playing field, removes the Old Covenant, the covenant of love that God made with his people in Israel, as though it meant nothing at all. And so Paul has to take time here in these eight verses to answer an objection that will come to him in preaching this Gospel.
Now, Paul, everywhere he went in Asia Minor, and in Greece, and on into Rome, went first to the Jewish synagogues. And he had been through argument after argument with Jews, he knew at this point someone would pipe up and say, "Now, wait a minute," and then he'd begin to say certain things. And so Paul in the letter has to answer certain objections that would come into his doctrine at this point, and so that's what these eight verses are all about. Now, Romans chapter nine, 10 and 11 is Paul's full answer to the question of the Jews but he's got to take a minute and take a little bit of a detour here in his unfolding of the Gospel to answer these objections, and that's what he's doing here. Now, 40 years ago, actually over 40 years ago, one of the greatest systematic expositors of the Word of God, Martyn Lloyd-Jones declared that this passage that we're looking at today is the hardest passage in the book of Romans and maybe one of the hardest in the entire Bible. So that's what's in store for us today.
II. A Very Difficult Passage
For us, expository preachers, that go verse by verse through the Bible we have to deal with Romans 3:1-8. If I were preaching topically I'd skip right on to Romans 3:23, everyone knows that verse, we wouldn't deal with these eight verses. But you know, the mark of a true teacher or of a true prophet as opposed to a false prophet, as I prayed, is that they let none of God's words fall to the ground but deal with every one of them as best we can. Now, the first time I read through these passages I didn't see what the big deal was, it didn't look all that complicated to me. I mean, there are difficult passages that are difficult because they teach something controversial to us. I've had to preach a number of those, homosexuality was one and there are other things that are hard for us to hear wherever we are at in our life now, and those are difficult. Then there are other passages that are difficult simply because there's words or certain things that don't make sense to us and those individual words or phrases we lack information. Like in First Corinthians 15 when Paul speaks of baptism for the dead and we don't know what that means, we lack information. But then there's passages like this one, there's no individual word that's difficult. The problem here is that we don't see the flow of argumentation.
It's very difficult to understand why verse 2 follows verse 1, and why verse 3 follows verse 2, and how this whole thing hangs together and makes a point. Now, again, when we're preaching topically, all we need to do is pick out a certain phrase, a certain aspect, and just preach on that, the righteousness of God or whatever. Can I share with you a temptation I had? I could just pick up a certain phrase here, "Let God be true and every man a liar," and preach a great sermon on that, right? But I'm not going to do that. I want to try to understand these verses the way they're written. And there are connecting phrases and there is a point that Paul is trying to make here, and you may walk out of here when I'm done more confused than you walked in, but I'm going to give it a try, and with the help of God I'm going to do it.
Now, doesn't this bring up a certain question? Why, if we believe that these... I look at verse 2, it says that the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. If we believe that this is the very word of God, or even better, that these are the very words of God, then we believe that God inspired Romans 3:1-8. Doesn't that make you wonder why a God, a loving God, a communicating God, inspires difficult passages? Have you ever wondered about that? Why doesn't God make it simple? Doesn't He know that there's going to be illiterate slaves in Rome who are going to be listening to this? And they're not going to understand, why does He do this to us? There's going to be people that are children, Jesus said "Let the little children come," don't you know that the Gospel is so simple a child could understand it? It's that true that the Gospel is so simple a child could understand it? Well, yes, of course it's true.
Acts 16:31 it says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." Is that simple? Well, yes it is, it's so simple a child could understand it. But then in Acts 20 Paul says to the Ephesian elders, "You know that I did not shrink back from proclaiming to the entire counsel of God's will." Now, there's the balance, isn't it? God said in Isaiah chapter 55, "My ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts. As the Heavens are higher than the Earth so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." So if these are indeed the very words of God, wouldn't it stand to reason that at some point it's going to be hard to understand? And that's what Romans 3:1-8 is. We'll try to understand, let's read it together and look at it.
Romans 3:1-8: "What advantage then is there in being a Jew or what value is there in circumcision, much in every way. First of all they've been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some did not have faith, will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all. Let God be true and every man a liar. As it is written: 'So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.' But if our unrighteousnesses brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? I am using a human argument. Certainly not. If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, 'If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases His glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?' Why not say as we are being slanderously reported as saying, and as some claim that we say, 'Let us do evil that good may result.' Their condemnation is deserved."
When we come to a difficult passage in the Bible, may I suggest some things? May I suggest, first of all, that we acknowledge total dependence on God? We sang this morning, "Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, that I might see you and that I might know you." It says in Psalm 119, "Open the eyes of my heart, that I may see new things in your law." We want to have our heart open. And so when we come to a difficult passage, we don't understand it, we begin with prayer. A prayer of dependence. Say, "God, teach me, show me. Help me to understand what this is." And then we do what says in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen who do not need to be ashamed, but who correctly handle the word of truth." Most people, when they come to difficulties like this, blow it off, as if it's not important, they frankly don't really care that much what Romans 3:1-8 says. But are these the very words of God? Is God speaking to us? Yes, he is, through the apostle Paul. Does he have something to say? Yes, he does. Is it important? Yes, it is. Do I understand it? No, I do not. That should drive you to prayer. And it should drive you to hard thinking and hard studying. And if you come to the point where you say, I just don't understand it, and I can't think about anymore, you just give it to God and say, "God, teach me, So that five years from now, 10 years from now, I may know more."
III. One Central Charge, Two Lines of Reasoning
Now, what is Paul doing here in Romans 3:1-8? He is defending his doctrine against a charge. And the charge is that Paul is teaching false doctrine, that he is a false teacher, that his Gospel is false. That's the central charge. And it breaks out into two accusations. The first accusation works like this. "According to you, Paul, there is no advantage to being a Jew. And God will punish Jews just like Gentiles, but God made some covenant promises to us. And therefore, you make God a covenant breaker if even one Jew is condemned." That's accusation number one.
Now their underlying assumption is that God's covenant with Israel guarantees salvation for every Jewish person. Do you see that assumption? So that if even one Jew is lost, God broke His promise. He's not faithful. And Paul just got done saying more than just one Jew is going to be lost. Many, who do not believe and who disobey the commands of God, will be lost. They will be judged on Judgment Day. And so God's righteousness to that covenant was on the line if any Jews were lost or judged.
Now the proof of Paul's heresy is that it makes God an unrighteous covenant breaker. Is God an unrighteous covenant breaker? Of course not. Therefore, Paul must be wrong. Do you see how it works? That's accusation number one. Now the second accusation works like this. "According to you, Paul, we've been hearing how you're defining sin. Sin is the exchange of the glory of God for something else. And you're saying that we rob God of His glory by our disobedience. So God seems very concerned about His glory. He seems to love it. He wants to live for it. He wants us to live for it. God's glory is everything. But it seems to me that our evil demonstrates God's glory and righteousness by contrast. So we are in effect, God glorifiers, no matter what we do. Therefore God can't judge us, because we are God glorifiers." Does that make sense? Not to me it doesn't but it seems like kind of a word game. Like they're kind of twisting things around and saying, "God can't judge anyone who glorifies Him. We glorify Him all the time, simply by contrast. Therefore, God can't judge the world. And since that naturally unfolds from your doctrine and since we know that God is going to judge the world, your doctrine is false." That's accusation number two.
IV. “Your Doctrine Makes God An Unfaithful Covenant Breaker!” (verses 1-4)
Let's look at the first one, your doctrine makes God an unfaithful covenant breaker. Romans 3:1-4. "What advantage then is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way. First of all they've been entrusted with the very words of God." Now you see why he is asking this question. It seems that he is saying there's no advantage to being a Jew. He just got done in Romans 2, and it seems that he's level the playing field out. Gentiles and Jews alike, stand accountable for God on Judgement Day. So there is no advantage whatsoever in being a Jew. But God clearly intended something of a blessing by that covenant, that He made with the Jews. They are His elect, His chosen people.
And so let's play the role of Paul's Jewish antagonist here. And we'll say "Alright Paul I've got a verse for you. Exodus 19:5. What are you going to do with this one Paul? Let me read it to you, in case you didn't know Paul. 'God promised Israel out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession.' Now how is God going to send any of His treasured possession to hell? Alright you want another verse Paul? How about this one. Deuteronomy 7:6, 'For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the Earth to be his people, his treasured possession.' Does that sound like language that God would speak over somebody who's going to lose his soul? And along with this elect position, God promised total covenant faithfulness, listen to Deuteronomy 7:9, 'Know therefore, that the Lord your God is God. He is the faithful God keeping his covenant of love to 1,000 generations.' Can I tell you something, Paul? It hasn't been 1,000 generations yet. And yet here you are making God a covenant breaker because He's sending Jews to hell. In effect you're saying a Gentile dog," (it's hard to say that), "A Gentile dog is every bit as good as we who are children of Abraham. Totally leveling the playing field. You have departed from the covenant Saul of Tarsus. You should be cut off from your people. You see how it works? You're making God a covenant breaker, Paul."
Now again, the assumption here is that the righteousness of God guarantees salvation for all Jews. Now what is God's righteousness? Total faithfulness to His promises. God keeps His promises. God never breaks His promises. Therefore, God's righteousness guarantees salvation. Now there are three keywords that come up here. In verse three he talks about God's faithfulness. "What if some did not have faith? Would their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?" And in verse 5 he talks about God's righteousness. "But if our own righteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly what should we say?" And then in verse 7 God's truthfulness. "Someone might argue, 'If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness,'" etcetera. So we've got God's faithfulness, God's righteousness, God's truthfulness. The Jewish opposition is saying these things taken together guarantee salvation for God's elect people Israel. It's a strong argument, isn't it? How is Paul going to deal with this? How is he going to deal with this? God's character guarantees salvation for Israel. His righteousness, faithfulness, His truthfulness. If one Jew is lost, then God has been unfaithful to his covenant.
Paul’s First Response
Well, Paul asserts here, first of all, that Jews do have certain advantages. The playing field is not totally level. What does he say here? "First of all, they've been entrusted with the very words of God." Now, that's an incredible blessing, isn't it? The word for "very words" means the "oracles" or the "speakings," the speech of God. Do we have that? Do we have the speakings of God? We do but the Jews had it first and there is a tremendous benefit to that. To be able to read God's very words, to think God's thoughts after Him. Incredible blessing. Got the law of Moses, the prophets, the wisdom literature, the whole testament. That was a tremendous blessing. It was a tremendous responsibility, too, because these words of God have been entrusted to the Jews and they were the ones who copied them scroll to scroll. They worked at it, they studied it. They just didn't live up to it. But they were entrusted with the very words of God.
Now, one thing about Paul that you'll notice the more you study is that he gets involved in his argumentation and sometimes I think he forgets other things. Now if I were saying to you, "First of all, such and such," wouldn't you be waiting for second, and third, and fourth? Well, don't think that Paul has forgotten. He will get to it, but he doesn't do it until chapter nine. Put your finger here in Romans 3 and get over to Romans 9 and look at verses 4-5. He completes the list there. Never think that Paul forgets, it's just that he's only doing a quick hitter now on the Jewish question, and he's going to come back to it in chapters 9, 10, and 11 and he gives the full answer there. Look at Romans 9:4-5. He's talking about the people of Israel. And here's the full list. "Theirs is the adoption as sons. Theirs, the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs," that is Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, "And from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised. Amen." There's the full list. Do you see it? The Jews had lots of benefits. When we get to Romans 9, I'll tell you about each one of those. We're not there yet. All I'm saying is that he gives a full list later on. The Jews did have benefits. They did have certain advantages.
Go back to chapter 3. No other people on Earth had such benefits and such advantages. William Cowper put it this way, poetically, "They and only they," speaking of the Jews, "They and only they amongst all mankind received the transcript of the eternal mind, were trusted with His own engraven laws and constituted guardians of His cause. Theirs were the prophets, theirs the priestly call, and theirs by birth the Savior of us all." That's a summary of Romans 9:4-5, you see that? The Jews did have advantages. They did have benefits. But those advantages and those benefits were national, they were corporate, and it did not guarantee salvation to any individual Jew. First of all, that national covenant itself was conditional. Do you know what conditional means? It means when you read it you're going to find the key little word in there, "if." When you find that little word if in there, this is not the fine print. This is God's passion. He wanted the Jews to be His treasured possession… if they would keep His covenants. Do you see that?
Now I'm going to be Paul. I get to be Paul now. I was the Jewish opponent a second ago. Now I'll answer. Okay, you gave me Exodus 19:5, I'll read it more fully. Exodus 19:5. "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations, you'll be my treasured possession." It was conditional. It was conditional. Alright, you gave me Deuteronomy 7:9. I'll read the whole verse, since you left it out. See, that's the whole problem. People leave words out. They let some of the words of God drop down. That's why I'm preaching this passage to you today. I can't drop any of these words. And they left some out. Deuteronomy 7:9. "Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is God. He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations." That's where they stopped. Let's keep reading. "Keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands. But those who hate Him, He will repay to their face by destruction. He will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate Him." That's the full verse. Don't cut any out. This was a conditional covenant, and they did not keep the condition, did they? They broke the covenant again and again and again. Now, this covenant had both blessings and what? Curses. Not just blessings. But blessings and curses.
You remember Deuteronomy 27 and 28, when they entered the promised land, they were to stand on two different mountains. You remember? Mount Gerizim for the blessings, for obedience, Mount Ebal for the curses, for disobedience. Now, that was an objective lesson. Did you get to stand on the curse mountain or on the blessing mountain? Well, I was on the blessing mountain. Well, we were on the curse mountain. But it taught a lesson. There's blessings in this covenant, yes, but there's also curses, and the whole thing comes down to that little word, if. It comes down to condition. It comes down to obedience. And Moses said it this way, Deuteronomy 30:19-20, "This day, I call Heaven and Earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now, choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God and listen to His voice and hold fast to Him." Do you see the condition? Please choose to obey.
The second major point here is that national election did not guarantee individual election, did not guarantee individual salvation. And here, Paul brings in the king Jew, David himself. Now, David was the king of the Jews. He was seen to be the greatest king of all the Jews. And he brings him in here through Psalm 51. Look what he says in verse 3, "What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all, or may it never be, let God be true and every man a liar. As it is written, 'So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.'" So he's bringing in King David. Talk more about that in a moment. But national election does not guarantee individual salvation, and David testifies to that. Individual human sin does not destroy God's commitment to His promise. Just because one Jew or a group of Jews sins, God is still faithful. He's still a covenant keeper. It's just that those Jews did not have faith.
And it's ironic, the Greek leads in this direction. The Jews were entrusted with the very words of God, but they did not trust the very words of God. Do you see? They did not have faith in what they had received. And then Paul intensifies, he goes beyond it. Said, alright, they had said if even one Jew is lost, then God is a covenant breaker. Paul says not so. Even if all the Jews are lost, even if the whole world is lost, God is still faithful. God is still just. God is still righteous. He's still holy. Now, that's a little bit of a bombshell, isn't it? Paul is such a truth teller. If even one Jew is lost, well, it's not like that. He goes, the other, he intensifies it. Even if the whole world is lost, God is still faithful. Let God be true, and every man a liar. This is hard for us to hear. Americans are so human-centered these days. We think about our rights, our privileges. We very rarely think about God's rights and privileges, very rarely think about His holiness, His righteousness, and our status as sinners who have broken His holy law.
And we think that God has some explaining to do if people go to hell, except for that category that everyone agrees needs to go to hell. You know who I'm talking about, those various people? Everybody expects to see them judged, but not me. I mean, I'm basically a good person, aren't I? Basically a good person. God's got some explaining to do if He sends basically a good person to hell, doesn't He? Paul says may it never be. Let God be true even if everyone is lost. God is still righteous. He is righteous when He judges. And here he brings in King David. "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge." Do you remember what this passage is? Do you know where this comes from? This is Psalm 51. Have any of you ever read Psalm 51? This is David's great confession Psalm.
What did David do to get himself in this situation? Well, he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then he murdered Uriah the Hittite to cover over his sin. And then he married the woman. Scandalous. And you know what David said once he was broken, once he was repentant? He said, "God, even if you send me to hell, you're right. I deserve it. You are proved right when you speak and you conquer when you judge." He brought judgment down on himself with his own words saying that. Do you see what I'm saying? David said, "You're right. You're right, God. I deserve it. I'm not righteous. I'm a sinner." And this was King David, the greatest king Israel ever had. Do you see what Paul's doing? He's saying, "Yes, even if one Jew is lost, God is still righteous. David said so." And all of us have sinned and exchanged the glory of God. Do you see what Paul's doing here? God is no covenant breaker. God is a faithful God but we have broken the covenant and we deserve the judgement we get.
V. “Your Doctrine Encourages Evil for the Glory of God!” (verses 5-8)
So, Paul has refuted the first accusation. What about the second? Your doctrine encourages evil for the glory of God. This is a strange one, but you know it follows the doctrine of grace everywhere it goes. Do you know how it works? We teach that salvation is apart from works, that no good works you do will ever get you into Heaven and that if anyone goes to Heaven, they're saved by grace. We're saved by the mercy and the forgiveness of God. And therefore, on Judgment Day, we will either receive just condemnation or merciful salvation. Those are the two choices. And if we receive it, we receive it by faith. There's no works involved here. And it puts us in a position of total cleansing by the grace of God. And very soon after that, the question comes, well then, we could sin as much as we want, can't we? It follows the doctrine of grace everywhere. We can sin as much as we want. Let us do evil that good may result, that's how it works.
And Paul will have to deal with this again in Romans 6, when he says, "What then, shall we sin all the more that grace may increase? May it never be." He deals with that later. But here, he's dealing with Jewish opponents and they're playing with it. They don't believe this. They're just trying to prove that Paul is teaching false doctrine. So, what does he say? Verse 5, "Well, I've got something for you, Paul. ‘If our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us?’" Paul has to stop here and say, "I almost can't even say this. I'm using a human argument. I'm talking the way people talk". Verse 5, he almost can't bring himself to say it, because they're playing with words, aren't they? They're twisting things around. Verse 7, "Someone might argue if my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases His glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner"?
Again, the goal of Paul's opponents is to prove that he's a heretic. And their method is to reduce his doctrine to absurdity, to show that it's faulty. God's central concern is His own Glory, our sin glorifies God by contrast. Therefore, it would be wrong for God to judge God glorifiers like us. Well, that's absurd. Well, therefore, Paul, your Gospel is absurd. You see how it works? So, what does Paul do? I think the first thing that Paul does is get emotional. I know it doesn't really come across here, but Paul, actually, is someone emotional in responding to this. I've already pointed to it, in verse 5 he says, "I'm using a human argument. I'm talking the way people talk. These are like dirty words in my mouth even put this in my letter to the Romans." And then in verse 6 you get the passion, "May it never be. Absolutely not. This is not the way it is." Do you see the passion? God is not unjust in bringing His wrath on us. God is never unjust. He is not unjust in bringing wrath. That's hard for us to hear, but it's true. When God brings wrath, we deserve it.
Now, later on, we're going to have to struggle with something. Okay, I can see it. I guess logically, I don't want it applied to me that God is just in bringing the wrath. Yes, we've all sinned and we all deserve the wrath of God. It's true. "I want out." Okay, but you're preaching a Gospel that shows me the way out by grace. Now, if God is always just, what about these people? David's in Heaven. How is it just to bring sinners to Heaven? We'll get to that in the weeks after Easter, that's at the end of the chapter 3. He shows how the justice of God is satisfied as well, and you know how? In the cross of Jesus Christ, by the death of Jesus Christ, God is able justly to bring sinners like us into a holy place like Heaven. We'll get to that later. At this point, he's just proving one thing, and that is God is just when He brings His wrath, we deserve it. And that's what he's dealing with here.
Now, the difficulty in verse 7 is smoothed over a little bit by the translators of the NIV. I wish they hadn't done that. I wish they'd just leave it difficult. Do you see the words in the NIV? How many of you have an NIV? You're looking down maybe at the NIV, do you see the words "someone might argue"? Do you see that? There's nothing in the Greek that says that. That's an awful lot of extra words to put in there, isn't it? Someone might argue. You know what they're trying to do? They're trying to make it clear to us the train of thought, who's saying what, when. Paul suddenly changes to the first person and says, "But if I am this, I am that." "If I am judged or if through my lie, the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also judged as a sinner?" How does Paul get involved here? It's tough. And I can't say I fully understand it, but I think what he's saying is this. Alright, you say that let's sin more and more so that God may increase. You don't like me, do you? You don't like me. You don't like my doctrine. You think I'm a false teacher. That's why you're yelling at me every town I go, you follow me from Thessalonica to Berea. And you're screaming at me everywhere I go. You'd love to see me judged, wouldn't you? But by your twisted logic, God can't judge me either. I had to lie more and more. I had to lie as much as I can to give glory to God, so that by contrast, God's truthfulness may show up against my lie.
You see how it works? This whole thing is perverse and you know what it is? It's an attitude towards scripture. It's playing word games, and the Jews did it all the time. The sad thing is we do it too. We take a portion of it. We line it up against another portion. We twist it around. Don't handle the word of God that way.
VI. Paul’s Response: The Total Justification of God
What does Paul do at this point? Just cuts it off. Verse 8, their condemnation is deserved. Their condemnation is deserved? Why not argue, as we are being slanderously reported as arguing, as some claim that we say. Let us do evil that good may result. No, their condemnation is deserved. We're not teaching that. We're teaching that when the grace of God comes into a life, it transforms the life, so that that life hates sin. It hates sin. That's what grace does. It doesn't teach us that we may sin as much as we want so that the glory of God may be shown. It teaches us that sin is an affront to the glory of God, and it teaches us to hate sin. And so you're twisting it all around to try to prove me a false teacher. God will be vindicated on that final day. You will see. He just cuts it off here. Their condemnation is deserved. God is just, when He judges.
Now, as I said, there's some unfinished business. But I can't leave it unfinished this morning. I can't. You know why? Some of you may not make it to Easter. I'm not trying to be light-hearted. I don't know any guarantee that you're going to be here at Easter time. How can God be just and let you into Heaven? Verse 27 says, "How can God be just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus?" That doesn't seem right either. The answer is vindication of God's glory and righteousness through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. If you feel yourself today to be a sinner, look to Jesus, look to His cross, look to His atonement. God's justice will be served through your wrath being poured out on him as your substitute. Look to Jesus today. You may not make it to Easter, when I'll fully explain it. But look to Christ today, because when Judgment Day comes and wrath is poured out on whoever receives that wrath, it will be just. He will say later in this chapter, "So that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." No one will be able to do this kind of word twisting on Judgment Day. We will know we deserve everything that we get. God is just when He judges, and He's just when he forgives. Let's pray that those in our midst, the people that we know may know His mercy and His grace and not that kind of justice.
VII. Summary and Application
To summarize what we've looked at here, Romans 2, Paul's been saying, "There is no partiality with God. Unbelieving Jews will be judged." In doing that it seemed that Paul leveled the playing field and said there was no advantage to being a Jew. Paul says, "Not so. There are tremendous advantages to being a Jew. But they do not save. They do not save us from sin. Only faith saves from sin." Attack number one said, your doctrine makes God a covenant breaker. Paul said, "Not so. That God be faithful even if everyone is condemned." King David said so, he said, "I deserve what I get. I am a sinner." God is no covenant breaker.
The second attack, your doctrine encourages people to do evil so that good may result. He said, "Not so. You don't understand my message. My message hates sin, my message transforms within so that you never sin again." So Paul has refuted these two. Now, what application can we take from a difficult text like this? You came in with free spirits. I understand the Word of God. I've got it down, I understand Romans. And now you're all confused. At least some of you, I can see the looks on your faces. What is this? I actually would like you to be confused, if you didn't understand this passage. Go through the confusion, bring it back to God, get on your knees and say, "God, help me to understand this." If you don't understand the explanation I've given, then go before the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you. But don't blow it off. These are God's words. He's speaking to us through this. Study to show yourself approved unto God, somebody who handles every passage of scripture the way it needs to be handled.
Second of all, understand God did not break His covenant with Israel, and He will not break His covenant with us in Christ. That covenant never guaranteed individual salvation. The covenant in Christ guarantees salvation to all who have personal faith in Christ.
Number three, understand God will judge the world with righteousness, and everyone who is condemned on Judgment Day will deserve it, and they will know it. And every mouth will be silenced.
Number four. Fear God and learn from Israel. They presumed in sin, didn't they? They thought they were safe. They thought they were safe. They had things worked out so that they could do what they wanted. They could be idolatrous, they could be adulterous, they could do whatever they wanted, and they were safe to do wicked things. No one is safe to do wicked things. No one. Sin is never safe. Fear God and learn from Israel. Do not presume in sin. And then finally, fear God and learn from Paul's opponents. Don't twist the Word of God, don't play word games with the Word of God, proving that if you put two and two together that God can't judge the world. You know God's going to judge the world. You're playing word games. Deal with the word of God with reverence. These are the very words of God and our salvation depends on their truthfulness. Let's close in prayer.