Romans Chapter 3

Part 2

KLMX Radio

November 2008

 

Bryan Kimsey

First Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

[Introduction]

[Prayer]

 

We are looking at Paul’s epistle to the Romans and this week we’re in chapter 3.  Yesterday, we took a look at verses 1-2 where Paul says:

 

Romans 3:1-2  What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?  (2)  Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.

 

I examined the implications of this to the Christian and I think we saw some interesting things there.  If you missed yesterday’s message, please check out the church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org or give us a call at 575.278.2421 and we’ll send you a CD with all of this week’s messages on it.  Today’s lesson starts with this verse:

 

Romans 3:3  For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?

 

This is a great question, of course.  As you may know, I’m a former evolutionary biologist and still keep in touch with discussions in that field.  One of my former gurus was the atheist Richard Dawkins, author of many books, including the recent “The God Delusion.”  In following his, and others, arguments about the existence or not of God, I’m struck by the fact that their conclusions don’t really make a bit of difference about whether or not God truly exists.  In other words, if an atheist decides that God doesn’t really exist, that doesn’t change a thing.  The atheist’s belief does not determine or not determine God’s existence.  The corollary is also true, of course.  A Christian’s belief in God does not determine or not determine God’s existence.  What determines God’s existence or not, is whether or not God truly exists.  All we can do is look at the evidence and then draw a conclusion upon which we’ll base our faith.  We either have faith that God does not exist or we have faith that He does. 

 

Atheists look at the evidence and see no evidence for God.   A question that I’ve asked of them, and a question that they sometimes debate among themselves (http://forums.randi.org/archive/index.php/t-77701.html) is “What would a shred of evidence look like?”  However, each person has their own criteria as to what would satisfy their shred of evidence and they cannot seem to come to a common agreement.  Believers look at the very same evidence and see God in action.  In reading atheist objections regarding the evidence of God’s existence, I think that their objections are answered.  They do not. 

 

What can we say to this?  One group certainly seems to be deluded, or maybe both are deluded and the answer is “neither”.  But, unless we hold to the view that we create our own reality, the fact remains that what we believe does not actually change the truth.  This is what Paul is addressing when he says:

 

Romans 3:3  For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?

 

Paul, of course, is biased, narrow-minded, and holds a strong, unwavering faith in God Almighty.   And I agree with him!  Let’s see what he does with this argument. 

 

Romans 3:3  For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?

 

Romans 3:4  Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: "THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND MAY OVERCOME WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED."

 

What’s he driving at here?  This seems confusing to me at first.  What’s this Old Testament quotation “That you may be justified in your words, and may overcome when you are judged” have to do with the point?  

 

Well, first of all, this passage is a quotation from David’s Psalm 51 and the “you” referred to is God.   Paul says “let God be true but every man a liar”.  If God alone holds truth in His hands, then no man may make claim to that truth.  In this way, God will be justified, that is, God’s justice will be righteous since He alone is capable of judging in truth.  In the Psalm quoted by Paul, “overcome” is written as “blameless” in my New King James or “clear” in the King James, so that it reads “…clear when you judge.”  The sense of the word points to “righteousness”, “purity”, “prevail”.  Because God alone holds truth and every man therefore is, to some degree or another, a liar, God’s judgment will be made in truth and man’s judgment never can. 

 

By this logic, man’s proclamation of God’s existence or not has no bearing on God’s actual existence, or character.  When man shouts that there is not a shred of evidence showing the existence of God, man is a liar.  We are surrounded by evidence that screams of creation by a vastly superior intelligence, but we choose to ignore it and push it aside and create our own gods instead.  Paul covered this in detail in Romans chapter 1 and, again, you can find a discussion of that chapter on the church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org.  Or you can simply open your Bible and read Romans chapter 1 for yourself.

 

In any case, we are discussing Paul’s letter to the Romans and it should be exceedingly clear whose side Paul is on here.  Paul is on God’s side.  But make no mistake, Paul includes himself in the comment “…every man a liar.”  This is humility and this is what I find utterly lacking in many conversations, both on the atheist and the believing side.  Atheists so often speak in derogatory terms, calling those of faith “stupid”, “ignorant”, and equating God with ‘fairy tales.”  But too many believers fall into the same trap, holding themselves higher and mightier and somehow morally superior to atheists.  I think those believers would do well to remember the saying “…there but for the grace of God, go I.”  Or they would do well to remember Paul’s own words from:

 

Romans 12:3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

 

Or Solomon’s words from:

 

Ecclesiastes 7:16  Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?

 

Or James when he quotes from the Proverbs and says:

 

James 4:6  … Therefore He says: "GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."

 

Paul’s entire drive so far into his letter to the Romans is to show what will be summed up in verse 23:

 

Romans 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 

All men are liars and fall short of the truth, which God and God alone holds.  All men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  According to Revelation 15:4, God alone is holy and this necessarily means that all men are less than holy.  Less than holy is “unholy”.  Jesus confirms this and shows us the proper perspective for man in:

 

Luke 18:9-14  Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  (10)  "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  (11)  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  (12)  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'  (13)  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'  (14)  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

 

And so Paul pushes his point onwards that man has fallen short of the glory of God.  He is dismantling man’s inherent pride in order to show the magnitude of God’s holiness.   Paul then anticipates his reader’s next argument when he states:

 

Romans 3:5-8  But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.)  (6)  Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?  (7)  For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?  (8)  And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"?- as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.

 

This again, is a very good question.  Many people, upon being confronted with the idea of their unrighteousness magnifying the righteous of God, will naturally reply by saying “Well, then, I should sin just as bad as I can!  If my sin magnifies God, I should sin a lot in order to magnify God a lot.  Why am I being punished for doing that?”  Paul tells us that this, in itself is a wicked thought.

 

What man is doing here is reverting to his wicked nature.  Why does he lean toward wickedness so easily and not say, instead, “God, you alone are perfect.  Please impart your nature on to me so that I may be like you”?  People don’t do that, though.  People either say “God doesn’t exist so this discussion is pointless.”  Or they say “God, you are perfect.  I will strive to make myself nearly as perfect as you, by my own strength and will.”  There is a big difference between these thoughts and the thought “God, I need your nature, not mine for yours is holy and mine is not.”

 

This change in nature, though, is exactly what is needed by man.  Jeremiah tells us:

 

Jeremiah 17:9  "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

 

God speaking  through Ezekiel said:

 

Ezekiel 36:24-28  For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.  (25)  Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  (26)  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  (27)  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.  (28)  Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

 

This new heart is exactly what Jesus is referring to in John, when he talks about being born-again:

 

John 3:6-7  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  (7)  Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

 

Now what about you?  Do you still have a natural and wicked heart that turns away from God, or has your heart of stone been replaced with one of flesh?  Have you been born again in the Spirit?  Jesus says plainly:

 

John 3:3  Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

 

I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines.  Tune in again tomorrow as we continue through chapter 3 of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

 

Back to Part 1

Forward to Part 3

Home