Living in Grace and Faith – Romans 3:9-20 – Week 9

Living in Grace and Faith

Romans 3:9-20

Week 9

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will continue in Romans chapter 3, and explore verses 9-20. In these verses Paul brings the hopelessness of the human condition that stands before God wanting and bankrupt to a crescendo so that all people would realize God’s immense love for humanity in sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of humanity, so that we would be reconciled to Him, not by religious works, but by His grace.

In Romans 3:9-20, there are 4 movements in the text.

1 – Everyone is under the dominion of sin.

2 – Paul strings together a mix tape of Old Covenant Scriptures that accurately diagnose our need of God’s grace, forgiveness and mercy.

3 – All humanity is accountable to the Law

4 – The Law releases a revelation of our sin or makes us conscience/self aware of our sin.

Romans 8:9

a) When Paul makes the statement, “Do we have any advantage”; he is speaking for Jews, and Paul himself was a Jewish Pharisee who could have been proud of his pedigree, as well as taking pride that he was a disciple of the great Gamaliel before his encounter with Jesus Christ on the Damascus road.

b) Philippians 3:4-6 – though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

c) The truth of the matter is that all of us are in need of God’s grace, mercy, love and forgiveness for our sins. The point of Romans chapter 3, is that the hearer would realize that the only way to be accepted in the Father is by His great grace and mercy in the face of Jesus Christ and His death on a cross and His resurrection.

d) All people are under the power of sin. Greek – pas hypo hamartia – all under sin; i.e. to miss the mark, to err, to be without a share in, to wander from the path of righteousness, honor, or go wrong, to wander from God ways, to violate God’s laws, personal sin, or the sin of a collective group of people. The use of the word under implies being ruled over, dominated, or subjugated to. This accurately describes the Fall of humanity from God’s grace in Genesis 3.

e) Just as faith is the great equalizer of all people, so we are all equal in our condition before God as sinners needing His grace. The good news is that after we have been reconciled to God, we are no longer orphan sinners, but children of God being Fathered by Him, a Bride in waiting, disciples who are learning His ways, salt, light, and His New Covenant saints who have been sanctified by the blood of Christ.

Romans 3:10-18

a) Paul uses the Old Covenant Scriptures as a witness to the truth that all people need God’s grace. We could say that as Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, strings these Old Covenant quotes together, he performs a “spiritual MRI” from the top of head to the toes of collective humanity and has found us wanting.

b) Paul quotes Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 5:9, Psalm 104:3, Psalm 10:7 (Septuagint), Isaiah 59:7-8, and Psalm 36:1.

c) Notice the progression away from God as we follow the movements in the text and metaphors used to point to the intensity by which humanity has moved away from God.

d) No one righteous or understands – A fitting description of humanity that is under the Adam’s inheritance of the Fall.

e) No one seeks God – We must remember that He loved us first and seeks our hearts and we simply respond to Him. If we seek God in the unredeemed condition, we end up with idols. 1 John 4:19 – We love because he first loved us.

f) Worthless – Greek – achreioō – render unserviceable – broken.

g) Having no fear of God is by far the farthest point from His presence. Psalm 111:10 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools (morally deficient) despise wisdom and instruction.

h) As Paul moves through these quotes we see the corruption of the throat, tongue, mouth, feet, and eyes. This may sound hopeless, but a realization of the human condition before God gives an appreciation and humility for His grace, mercy and love for us. It helps us understand the magnitude of His love for humanity.

Romans 3:19

a) NKJV – Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. – No one escapes accountability to God for the course of their lives. This is a motivation for us to share Jesus with the world around us because eternal destiny depends on us sharing the love of God that saves us from the guilt of sin.

Romans 3:20

a) NKJV – Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. – The purpose of the Law is the revelation of our sin unto salvation. See Galatians 3:24 – So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.

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Living in Grace and Faith – Romans 3:1-8 – Week 8

Living in Grace and Faith

Romans 3:1-8

Week 8

Rob Covell

Introduction –
In this Session, we will begin Romans chapter 3, and explore verses 1-8. We are moving on from Paul’s indictment of the religious sinner and moving into Paul’s genesis of building the theological thoughts that bring the glorious truth that God justifies sinners by faith, through believing in Jesus’ substitutionary death on a cross for sin and His resurrection from the dead that proves His work of salvation. This theological truth peaks in Romans 10:9-10. Romans 3 begins the lead up that peaks in Romans 10.
Romans 10:9-10 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

In Romans 3:1-8, there are 4 movements in the text.

1 – God’s purpose through Israel in saving humanity.

2 – All humanity is accountable to God because humanity has a freewill.

3 – God is justified in His judgments and decisions because He is God.

4 – The grace of God is never an excuse to be unaccountable to God.

Romans 8:1-2

a) The hearers of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome who were Jewish believers may be wondering if there any value in being descended from Israel, because of his indictment of the religious spirit that existed in Judaism at that time. Paul made the case that circumcision, one’s identity as Jewish, and the possession of the Law could not produce salvation. The question begs to be asked; “did old covenant believers obtain eternal salvation before Jesus made atonement on the cross?”. We would answer an emphatic yes, because one would have been practicing the Law and the old covenant sacrifices by faith, with the hope of the Messianic promise given to Adam and Eve, Abraham’s promise, David’s promise, and the prophetic promises of the prophets from God to Israel. Paul was simply making the case that religion alone is no substitute for faith.

b) Paul points out that God gave Israel His salvation narrative through the Word of God; and because the LORD worked salvation through Israel, God’s promise to humanity in Genesis 3:15, to save humanity was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That is a great gift to humanity that only came through the Hebrew’s relationship with Yahweh.

c) Paul explains this concept in greater detail in Romans 9.

Romans 3:3-4

a) Just because some Jews rejected the Messiahship of Christ does not mean that God failed in His promise to restore humanity back to Himself through them. Acts 15:5 mentions a contingency of Pharisees who became believers, Acts 4:36 tells us that Barnabas was a Levite, and Acts 6:7 tells that a great number of priests became obedient to the faith. It is a common Evangelical misconception that most Jews rejected the message of Messiah. This is simply not true. The Acts narrative alone teaches us otherwise, as well as Early Church history.

b) God is faithful to His Word. Ezekiel 12:25 – But I the LORD will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious people, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign LORD.

c) Verse 4 teaches us that God is justified in everything He does. We know that all of God’s works are righteous because He is Perfect. 1 John 1:5 – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. James 1:7 NKJV – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

d) We may not understand all of God’s decisions or ways, but when all things are summed up in Christ, God receives all the glory, honor, power and praise, even as He judges those who rejected relationship with Him.

e) Spurgeon – “It is a strange, strong expression; but it is none too strong. If God says one thing, and every man in the world says another, God is true, and all men are false. God speaks the truth, and cannot lie. God cannot change; his word, like himself, is immutable. We are to believe God’s truth if nobody else believes it. The general consensus of opinion is nothing to a Christian. He believes God’s word, and he thinks more of that than of the universal opinion of men.”

f) Paul quotes Psalm 51:4, in Romans 3:4.

Romans 3:5-6

a) Paul brings the counter-argument to the forefront in verse 5, which goes something like this; “If my sin brings about a display of God’s righteousness and God’s will, then how can He judge me for what I have done? Because my sin ultimately serves His purpose and that is a good thing”.

b) Is God unjust in His wrath – The thought that Paul is addressing goes like this; “If God is in control of everything, then humanity is just a victim of fate from God, and we are all pawns and puppets”. Judas would have been an extreme example of this argument. Genesis 3 shows us that love is a choice and God loves freewill lovers.

c) The answer to this is found in 2 theological constructs. 1 – Providence, see Romans 8:28. 2 – Omniscience, See Isaiah 40:28 and Job 21:22 and Psalm 147:4-5.

d) When Paul says, “I am using a human argument”, he is not saying that he is not being inspired by the Holy Spirit in that moment; he is implying that as a fallen man who needs mercy from Christ, he will not challenge God’s position or the decisions of His heart.

e) How could God judge the world? Because He is righteous, good, perfect and true; even in His judgments.

Romans 3:7-8

a) There were some in the Apostolic Era that objected to Paul’s gospel message of justification of sins through the grace of Jesus Christ in the cross and our faith and trust in Jesus’ atonement as the requirement for salvation. The Judaizers were some of those accusers. They accused Paul of preaching a cheap grace message.

b) The others who adopted a cheap grace message were the Gnostics and their libertine teachings that excused the sin of humanity and taught that the flesh was so corrupt that sin in the body was inevitable, so one should just do what feels good in the flesh because Christ will ultimately redeem it without consequence.

c) Scripture teaches us that the sanctification process is a process of learning to live in the Spirit through our New Creation nature as Christ is being formed in us through our lives. See Galatians 5. d) Christian obedience flows from our desire to protect our relationship with God and please Him through our faithful freewill choices.

Living in Grace and Faith – Romans 2:21-28 – Week 7

Living in Grace and Faith

Romans 2:21-29

Week 7

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will complete Romans 2, and explore verses 21-29. Romans 2 has been a very theologically heavy section of Scripture as Paul takes on the religious sinner and the religious spirit that manifests in those who believe they are self-justified and self-righteous. Paul is building the case throughout Romans that the only people that are justified before God are those who have faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ. Romans is the deepest theological explanation of the essentials of the Christian faith, the identity of God’s people and the explanation of the Spirit-led life of freedom for the child of God.

To grasp the impact and power of Paul’s closing indictment of the religious sinner, we need to see the context of the common culture in the text. As we move through these verses, we will key in on Paul’s direct references to the Jewish religious landscape that were prevalent in that time.

In Romans 2:21-29, there are 2 main movements in the text.

1 – Acceptance in God does not depend on outward works.

2 – The identity of God’s people are the people of faith who live by the Spirit.

Romans 2:21-23

a) In cultural context of these verses, rabbis of the First Century had exegeted the Law to the point where they believed that they could keep the Law perfectly. The Pharisee movement within Judaism certainly was attempting to live in purity and in fidelity to the Law. Jesus exposed this religious lie that says; “only the outward actions and conduct of the person count as obedience to the Law”. However, we know that God applies the Law to both the thoughts of our hearts and our actions. See Matthew 5:21-37, where Jesus destroys the Pharisees theological positions on Law Keeping. Jesus elevated the Law for the express purpose of exposing our need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:24 says that the Law is a tutor that leads us to Christ.

b) The religious, self-righteous spirit continued in Church History and still exists today. In approximately AD 1114, Cardinal Cremensis, the Pope’s legate/enforcer who was charged with breaking up the marriages of priests was caught with a woman by another Cardinal. He excused himself by saying that was not a priest.

c) The reference to robbing temples, is a cultural reference to the common practice of merchant Jews profiting from the idolatry of the Roman Empire.

d) Hypocrites typically talk in high religious platitudes that rob them of humility and dependence on God’s grace, mercy and love. When we live in reverence and humility before God, then the judgment we carry towards others evaporates from our souls.

Romans 2:24

a) Paul is reminding the Law Keepers of the First Century that in the history of Israel and Judah, their disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant caused Gentiles to blasphemy the LORD. b) Joel 2:17 – Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?”

Romans 2:25-26

a) To an observant Jew, circumcision was the sign of God’s Covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The fact that one was circumcised lead them to believe that they were guaranteed entrance into the Kingdom of God simply based on their national identity. Deuteronomy 10:16 warned against the Israelites against religious pride based on their national identity.

b) The Apostolic Church wrestled with this mindset as well. Acts 15:1- Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” The though here is that circumcision guaranteed their identities as children of Abraham, in addition their faith in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross.

c) Paul taught against this mindset in Galatians 2, 5, 6, and Colossians 2.

d) Eternal destiny is determined in the heart of person who believes and trusts that Jesus paid the price for sin and bridges the sin divide between a Holy God and Fallen humanity.

e) Like circumcision, baptism is a sign of our New Covenant relationship with God that lives in on the inside of us. Baptism is the outward confession of a heart that loves God.

Romans 2:28-29

a) In verses 28-29, Paul introduces the idea that the identity of God’s people is those who have found salvation in Jesus Christ; these are New Covenant people, contrasted to Old Covenant people who lived under the Law that was unable to justify any human being before God.

b) Notice the contrast between the circumcision of the flesh, versus the cutting-off of the carnal nature by the Spirit. Paul is building a case that expounds more as we progress through the Epistle to the Romans, that God’s people are not the national Jew, but the children of God who been justified by their like Abraham. Galatians 3:7-9 – Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

c) See Galatians 2:23-29. d) We can only receive praise from God through faith. Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Living in Faith and Grace – Romans 2:12-20 – Week 6

Living in Grace and Faith

Romans 2:12-20

Week 6

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will explore Romans 2:2-20. In the last 5 Sessions, we moved through Romans Chapter 1 and looked at God’s indictment of the Roman pagan culture that Paul lived in, for their gross immorality. In Romans 1, we also see the moral slide of cultures and societies that abandon the knowledge of God and suffer in progressive degrees of unrighteousness being expressed in the people. In the context of Romans, Paul’s target was the common Roman culture and pantheon of its idols.

However, in Romans 2, Paul takes on the religious sinner, whose sin is not overt, but hidden in the heart, or sin that is seems of small consequence when compared to others. At the time of Paul’s writing he would have been targeting the observant Jew and moral philosopher. We could say Paul is taking on the religious spirit that condemns others, while excusing itself. See Luke 18:10-14. (Pharisee versus the Tax Collector)

In Romans 2:12-20, we see 4 movements in the text.

1 – All people are accountable for their sins.

2 – The human conscience God’s governor of the soul.

3 – Jesus Christ is the agent of God’s judgment on humanity.

4 – Spiritual pride married to knowing God’s Law does not make us righteous.

Romans 2:12

a) Paul continues to make the case that all people are accountable for their sin. In the context of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, the religious sinner may have been thinking that because he knew the Law of God, his sin was judged differently than the Gentile sinner of the Roman Empire. It was a common thought in Rabbinic teaching that God would judge the Gentiles with one measure and use another measure when judging the sons and daughters of Israel.

b) It is dangerous to justify our sin because we are Christians. This is the genesis for religious pride that comes before a fall. Additionally, this is an open door to searing our conscience to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. See 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

c) Hebrews 4:13 – Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Romans 2:13

a) What is in view here in the text is the subject of ultimate accountability to God for the things we have done during our lifetimes. Hearing the Law is of no value, unless one does the Law. We must keep in mind that Paul is building a theological case that one cannot keep the Law, and therefore is dependent on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and the leading of the Holy Spirit who gives us the grace to walk out God’s desires for our lives. All of us have violated God’s Law and all of us have kept God’s Law at times. However, none of has ever lived God’s Law in perfection, except for Jesus Christ, the Living Torah.

Romans 2:14-15

a) It is important to note that Paul points out that the human conscience is from God and is the internal governor that either conforms that we have done right or convicts us that we have done wrong. Just based on this truth, no person is ever not accountable to their actions in the sight of God.

b) Paul points our that the Laws of God are present within individuals, whether they are codified or not.

c) Every human culture in history has a set of ethics and morals that govern the social structures of their societies. These all vary in degrees of righteousness. However, there are basic acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in all people groups. The schools of Greek philosophy in Paul’s time proposed that all people had an unwritten law in them that pointed them to the “right way”.

d) Notice that Paul did not say that Gentiles could fulfill the Law based on following their consciences, but they could do the Law, meaning a general way of doing right, however still imperfect.

Romans 2:16

a) Notice that no one can claim exemption from the judgment of God because they did know His revealed Word. Just the act of violating our inner revelation of right and wrong is enough to be brought to account for our sins.

b) Paul injects the judgment coming through Messiah. This is so fitting, because Jesus was the One who died for sin, who took on sin, endured the punishment for sin, activated the restorative justice of God by delivering humanity from sin, sickness, and torment. Jesus is the One qualified to know the human heart and judge the human heart because of who He is; a God-Man.

c) Hebrews 2:11 – Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. d) Notice that Paul says, “my gospel”. Has the message of Jesus Christ so penetrated our hearts, that it lives in us, and it becomes our life?

Romans 2:17-20

a) Paul addresses the common cultural position of the Jews in the First Century, which is their boast that because they have the Law of God, they are superior to the other people groups in the world around them. This mindset was a major issue in the Early Church. See Acts 11:1-2. See Acts 15. See 2:11-13.

b) Paul is making the case that just because one possesses the Law, that in its self does not make them righteous before a holy God. The only way to approach God is in humility on our part and mercy on His part through Jesus Christ.

c) Jesus’ hardest rebukes were reserved for the self-righteous religious sinners of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

d) As Christians we possess the Word of God in its totality. We have the responsibility to not only know the Word of God, align our lives to the Word of God, and present the love, mercy and grace of God that forgives, heals and restores people back to God. See 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.