Paul begins a debate with himself, anticipating the questions that might come from the things he is telling the Romans…and then answering his own questions. It is an incredible theological ping-pong game from the great mind of Paul.
Here’s my humble summary of the Q&As in this chapter…
Q: If all that you said about God showing no favoritism between Jews and Greeks is true, then what is the point of being a Jew…God’s chosen people? Does it even matter at all?
A: It matters very much. You were entrusted with the spoken Word of God. The law was given to your people. Jesus came from your lineage. Though it doesn’t lead to your salvation, it is a special heritage where God showed Himself and gave hints of Jesus as His plan for salvation along the way.
Q: But not all Jews were faithful. Does their unfaithfulness nullify the faithfulness of God?
A: By no means! God is faithful even when we are not. His faithfulness does not rest on our actions.
Let’s just let this sink in…
When we keep all our promises and resolutions and are loving our neighbors well…God is faithful.
When we slipped back into that sin we thought we had long shed…God is faithful.
When everything is falling into place…God is faithful.
When everything is falling apart…God is faithful.
When we are on our knees in prayer…God is faithful.
When we are too angry to pray…God is faithful.
When we never miss a Sunday at church…God is faithful.
When it hurts too much to go to church…God is faithful.
When our prayers are miraculously answered…God is faithful.
When our prayers seem to go unanswered…God is faithful.
Back to the Q&A…
Q: So if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, is God then unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? If through my lie God’s truth abounds to His glory, why I am I still being condemned? After all, my unrighteousness is serving to display God’s glory, right? Why not just do evil so that good may come? What is the point of the law and the prophets?
A: Though the law and the prophets – God’s commands – bear witness to the righteousness of God, His righteousness is manifested apart from the law. His righteousness is attained through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. We are made right as a gift by His grace through Jesus.
Q: So do we throw out the law for this faith?
A: By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. But it is not to earn favor or our salvation; it is in response to our salvation. We can uphold the law because we are saved, not to become saved.
Q: Then what can we boast about? What can we attribute to ourselves for this salvation? What can we say we have done?
A: There is no boasting in self. We are justified by faith apart from any works of the law.
This is the Gospel. This is freedom. We can’t accomplish it on our own, and we don’t have to. God is faithful even when we are not. Jesus is available to us even when we are in the throws of unfaithfulness. He is still pursuing us. Joby Martin sums it up, “God is faithful even when we are not. This truth is not a license to sin, but an invitation to serve the sovereign Savior.”
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