“Wrestling With Romans”
The Whole Truth & Nothing but the Truth (Chapter 3 vv 1-8)
The human argument comes back saying (vv5-8), if the glorious righteousness of God displayed in the gospel (1.17) shines more brightly because of our sin? Well, is not God unjust in punishing sin which does this wonderful service? If for instance I tell blatant lies (v7), and that causes God’s truthfulness to shine the more, well, why am I condemned, I ought to be applauded? Well, you might as well say (v8), as some are already slanderously doing, claiming that Paul teaches, “Let us do evil, that good may come.”Of course that was simply just that, slanderous, and Paul’s answer is both short and swift, whose damnation is just (v8b). The things Christians say about other Christians! They do it sometimes, even hiding behind the Bible (1Corinthians 6.1-8), and pulpits too. If it were brought into the secular realm they would be in court for libel. A friend told me some years ago of a case where an author purposed to say something denigrating about a Christian leader whose theology he disagreed with, the leader on hearing of it, threatened to take the publishers to court, unless it was withdrawn. It was never published, because it simply was not true. Does not that take us back a page (2.17-24), if we do not live by a commitment to the truth where does that put our profession of faith?
The claim to be a Christian, is a claim to follow the Lord Jesus, it means to walk as he walked (1John 2.6). We only prove the genuineness of our faith by our commitment to him, in the fires of practical daily living and conversation. Any claim to faith that goes around slandering fellow Christians, however much you disagree with them, is a pseudo faith. A person may defend the Bible, their creed, their Church all they want, but if they cannot trust God sufficiently to speak the truth, and do it in love, then that faith must be questionable. Shall we turn the law of God in to occasion for licence (Exodus 20.16)? Perhaps these people did not consider Paul to be their neighbour (v8)? In this chapter (vv4; 6; 31), in the Authorised Version, we have the phrase God forbid, the expression is fairly common to Paul, but in the original Greek, literally translated it reads may it not be, or in contemporary English, never! I say it simply because God’s name is not mentioned in the original. The new rendering of that version of the Bible has made the necessary corrections to this error. The Authorised Version is a good translation, I happen to think it is still the best we have. I use it, I love it, I thoroughly recommend it to any serious Bible student, but I will not be blind to its, or anyone else’s imperfections, be he friend or foe, or for that matter the errors of any translation. It is only in the original manuscripts that we have perfection. God’s name is very precious, it is holy and he takes a very dim view of its misuse (Exodus 20.7), because his name reflects his character, his nature. Well, so too does truth, nothing is deemed more precious by God than truth, and there is nothing more adverse to his nature than that which is false, lies. It behooves us in all matters as Christian people to be honest.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)