Romans 4:1-12 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Abraham is Paul’s validation from the word of God that God is the God of the Jews and the Gentiles and justifies both the uncircumcised and the circumcised (Romans 3:29-31). As you read in the above Scripture, Abraham was counted as righteous before he was circumcised because he believed or trusted God. The sign of circumcision as a seal of righteousness came after Abraham trusted (believed) God. God made Abraham the father of all who believe, Jew and Gentile, circumcised and uncircumcised.
Paul quoted what David wrote in Psalm 32:1-2 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man whom the Lord will not count his sin,” and applied that blessing to the Jewish Christian and Gentile Christian. Both are blessed because both believed the gospel, that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, rose on the third day and is Lord of all. What is the blessing? All who believe the gospel receive pardon from all sin and a guaranteed home in new heavens and earth, receive power to overcome sin in daily life and power over Satan (Romans 5:10; 6:6-7; Hebrews 2:14-15). Have you believed the gospel? If you have, are you experiencing the blessings of belief? We experience the blessings of belief by learning and living God’s word, the Bible, by faith in the Son of God, Jesus (Galatians 2:20). As we attempt to learn and live the word of God, God fulfills our attempt with His power.
Romans 3:27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
As Paul addresses the entire Roman local church in his letter, he speaks specifically to the Jewish Christians who are boasting they are superior because they have the Law and keep the externals of the Law by observing certain days as special and by eating certain foods (see Romans 14). As a Jewish Christian himself, Paul writes, "Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded by the law of faith." Paul emphasizes that God is the God of all people, Jew and Gentile and justifies both groups of people by faith since all people have broken the Law and cannot save themselves. Justify means to make righteous, to pardon a person from the penalty of sin which is death (Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8). A person is justified immediately upon believing the gospel.
Paul asks a question to address the Jewish Christians belief that it is necessary to keep the special days and eat the certain foods prescribed by the Law, "Do we then overthrow the Law by this faith?" The answer is, "By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the Law." Paul reveals in Romans that the Law reveals sin, but is powerless to make a person righteous (Romans 3:20; 7:7, 13; 8:1-4). The Law is true and good. When a person compares his life to the Law, sin is revealed. Belief in Jesus' death on the cross, resurrection from the dead and that He is Lord over all is necessary to be pardoned from sin's penalty, to be made righteous. Do you believe this? If you do, then your boasting will be Jesus Christ who saved you from your sin and not in yourself and what you do.
Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Imagine sinking in quick sand with no one to help and nothing to grab to pull yourself out. You will sink and die. Every person is in that predicament. All are sinking in sin and cannot get out by their own effort. Just as a person sinking in quick sand needs someone to save him, so those who are sinking in sin need a savior – that Savior is Jesus Christ. Jesus saved people by releasing them from sin (redeeming them). He saved people by becoming a propitiation by His blood shed on the cross. A propitiation is “the removal of an impediment to a relationship with God.” Jesus paid the penalty of sin, the impediment that kept all people from an eternal relationship with God. By believing in Jesus Christ a person is made righteous as a gift, a gift given by God’s grace (something that is not earned or deserved). Everyone in a local church is on level ground. All needed to be saved from their sin and none deserved to be saved. None could do anything to be saved. No room for an up/down relationship here. All the grounds level at the foot of the cross. God is just. He must punish sin. He paid the penalty for sin on the cross even though He was not guilty. He loved people enough to die for them. He is just and He is the justifier because no one could save themselves.
No person in the local church need feel inferior or superior. Each person is to serve the other. Each person is equally loved by God. Jesus gave His life for every person in the local church.
Romans 3:9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." 13 "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." 14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Conflict happens when one group of people think they are better than another. The Jewish Christians thought they were better than the Gentile Christians because they lived by the Jewish calendar of feasts and new moons and kept the food laws. Paul makes the point that both Jewish and Gentile Christians are not saved by works of the Law (Romans 3:20). Paul goes back to scripture, the written word, to show that Jew and Gentile are not righteous. Go through Romans 3:10-18 and write down a description of mankind and compare it with the local and world news. There is great similarity! All are under sin. No one can keep the Law 100% of the time. James 2:10 instructs us that if we break the Law at one point, we have broken the entire Law. “All the grounds level at the foot of the cross” is the theme of unity Paul is laying out to this local church. The Law sets forth the righteous standard of God and exposes the sin of every person that compares himself with the Ten Commandments, a small portion of God’s standard.
How do you respond to a person that thinks they are better than you? Does that promote unity or disharmony? Do you think you are better than other Christians in your local Body because of external practices, such as how holidays are celebrated, what clothes are worn, style of Christian music, what instruments are used, what food is eaten on special days, etc.? “All the grounds level at the foot of the cross.” Paul put it well in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Romans 3:5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? ( I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?- as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
People try to justify their sin by giving it a good face as Romans 3:8 illustrates, "And why not do evil that good may come? - as some people slanderously charge us with saying...." Just because the black of my sin highlights the white of God's righteousness is not reason to suppose that God is unjust in judging my sin. If my poor driving causes a thirty car pile up and enhances the economic situation of the town's body shops, am I right in saying the police should not give me a ticket? No! I broke the law and should get a ticket even if good came out of my law breaking for the auto body repair businesses. God is just in judging the world for its sin even if the world's sin highlights the goodness and glory of God.
Do you ever try to justify your sin and give it a good face? Just because you blow up in anger and get people to get their work done in the home, workplace, or school, does that mean your sinful response is free from the judgment or discipline of God? No! God's word instructs us to do everything in love (1Corinthians 16:4; 13:4-7) and that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1:20). When some good comes from our sin, it is no reason for God to alleviate His judgment. We are never to try to put a good face on sin, which is the greatest danger we face.
Romans 3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the words of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged."
Today I would like you to look at a practice of Paul that should be practiced by each follower of Jesus. In Romans 3:4 Paul makes a statement and backs it up with, "as it is written, 'That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.'" Paul validates his statement, "let God be true and every man a liar" by quoting the written word of God (Psalm 51:4b). Can you validate the words you speak with the written word of God? Paul said we were to speak the truth in love to one another (Ephesians 4:15) and to speak the truth to our neighbors (Ephesians 4:25). If we learned the written word and spoke only words that could be validated by the written word of God, it would make a tremendous difference in our families and communities. Proverbs 11:11 says, "By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown." The word "blessing" refers to speech. We speak blessing in our families and neighborhood when we speak what can be validated by the written word of God. Can you validate the words you speak with the written word of God? Keep learning the Bible so your speech can be a blessing when teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness; so your speech can be a blessing when communicating with another person or group of people.
Romans 2:25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
Circumcision was initiated by God with Abraham. God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham to make him the father of many nations and give him the promised land (Genesis 17:1-8). Circumcision is the sign of the covenant that Abraham was to keep in obedience to God (Genesis 17:9-14). Circumcision was a commitment to be obedient to God and thus receive what He promised. The Jewish people came to believe that merely external circumcision was enough to fulfill the covenant even if they disobeyed God. Paul says an external practice does not make a person right with God. An obedient person who is not circumcised is in better standing with God than a circumcised Jew who is disobedient. Romans 2:29 describes the true Jew, "29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God."
Are you right with God because you go to church, observe holidays in certain ways, wear the right clothes and yet inwardly complain, lust and watch crud in the secret of your home? Or are you right with God because you have put your trust in Jesus Christ and desire to obey Him? If you do right religious practices and disobey the word of God you are missing the mark. If you desire the praise of man over the praise of God, you are missing the mark. The true believer seeks the praise of God and seeks to obey God by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 2:17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth- 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."
As Paul addresses the Jew and Gentile Christians in our text today, he addresses the Jewish Christian who is condemning others particularly while all the church listens in. Paul highlights the Jewish Christian who is relying on keeping the Law to be saved. This man knows the Law and boasts in God, knows His will and approves what is excellent, learns the Law, seeks to be a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the foolish and a teacher of children (Romans 2:17-20).
Paul then asks this man instructive questions that can be summed up with this question, "Are you practicing what you preach?" (Romans 2:21-22) Paul then answers the question with a statement of truth based on Scripture, "You dishonor God, by breaking the Law you teach" (Romans 2:23-24).
Are we practicing what we preach or are we dishonoring by our lifestyle the name of God? Ask the Lord daily to evaluate your life and keep you practicing what you preach.
Romans 2:12-16 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Let’s start with the truth of Romans 2:16, “…God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” Do you have any secret sin that only you and God know? Everyone does! Our text today instructs us that we sin with or without the Law (the instruction of God). We know we sin if we have the Law to highlight our sin and all have the Law whether written down to read (Jews) or written
on our heart (Jew and Gentile). All are guilty of sin and will be judged by Jesus.
Note that it is not the people who hear the law who are righteous, but the people that do the Law who are righteous. James 2:10 instructs us that if anyone breaks one part of the Law, he has broken the entire Law. To be righteous by doing the Law, we must never disobey the Law. Disobeying the instruction of God is the definition of sin. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father in Heaven. How can one man condemn another for not keeping the Law and not be self-condemned? He can’t. All will need a pardon when standing before Judge Jesus. We get that pardon, not by living according to the Law, but by believing Jesus lived perfectly according to Law and died on the cross, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God (1Peter 3:18). Real faith or saving faith gives us the desire to obey and the power to obey (Romans 1:5; Ephesians 1:13-14, 19-20; 3:20; James 2:14-26). Real unity is achieved when each believer realizes all people have sinned and will stand before Judge Jesus guilty and in need of pardon.
Romans 2:1-11 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man- you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself- that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
The grammar in Romans 1:5 is key to understanding 2:1-11 in terms of saving faith verses being saved by keeping the Jewish Law. “Obedience of faith” is more clearly translated, “obedience that comes from faith”. “Faith is a subjective genitive modifying the noun, obedience, which means that the noun (obedience) proceeds from faith. Obedience proceeds from the faith Paul is writing about. Saving faith brings with it the desire to obey. Desire to obey the truth is an indicator of saving faith rather than living according to all the Jewish Law such as the food laws and celebrating certain Jewish holy days.
The person(s) that are condemning people in the Roman church are guilty of some of the sins described in Romans 1:22-32. We know that if we break the Law at one point we have broken the whole Law (James 2:10). Condemning another believer for not keeping or keeping certain days holy above others or eating or not eating certain foods is wrong (see Romans 14). Paul gives us the criteria in Romans 2:6-10 by which to determine if a person has eternal life or if a person is under the wrath of God. The criteria applies to Jew and Gentile alike and has nothing to do with holy days or certain foods. The person who seeks to walk in the good works God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in is a person that has saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). The person who walks in disobedience to the truth of God’s Word does not have saving faith. We are not saved by the works we do, but works reveal that our faith in the gospel is genuine. It doesn’t matter if we are Jew or Gentile or live like a Jew or like a Gentile. It does matter that we live in obedience to God’s Word by faith in Jesus.
Romans 2:1-5 challenges the condemning person to look at his life and make sure he has saving faith and is not under the wrath of God. Romans 2:6-10 reveals that saving faith is revealed by how we live our lives, not by if we live like a Jew or Gentile culturally. God is not partial to Jew or Gentile (Romans 2:11). God is going to save the person who displays the obedience of faith. In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says the same thing, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
Does your belief (faith) in Jesus cause you to desire to obey His commands? Is your desire to obey the Lord revealed by your attempt to obey His commands? Saving faith attempts to obey the Word of God expecting the Lord to fulfill that attempt with His power (2 Thessalonians 1:11).