“Wrestling With Romans”
O the Sweet, Sweet Gospel (Chapter 3 Verses 21-31)
The ‘buts’ of the Bible bring a great sense of relief to the soul. Paul in Ephesians draws a picture of the blackness of sin’s nature (Ephesians 2.1-3). Then in the following verse interjects with one of the ‘buts’ (v4), but, God who is rich in mercy etc. Here Paul does the same again, having shown us the truth about ourselves, now he says, but, “now the righteousness of God without the law has been manifested” (v21). First the disease, then the cure, the remedy. God has made a way. Here is the astonishing thing about it. It is “without the law”. Who would ever have dreamed of it? Ask them? How do you get to heaven? How do you please God? How do you become a Christian? Well, I’m doing my best. I’m trying. Is it not true, the harder you try, the more effort you put into it, the worse it gets,the more you fail. You cannot because you just are not good enough. With Paul’s description of our sinful nature do you think that keeping rules, being good, will reverse all that? Never! No, there is another way, which God has exposed through the witness of his servants the prophets, and has been doing so for some time now (Romans 1.17). And you connect with it how, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (v22).
All have sinned (v23), Paul has gone to great lengths to make this clear, both Jew and Gentile. Well, if you want to be right with God, in God’s way (v22), it is not by doing the law, or good deeds, or even your very best. It is by faith, trusting in Jesus Christ alone. Not doing the law. Have you got it? Simply faith! No one, from Adam to this day was ever made righteous any other way, it was always through, for, on, the basis of faith, apart from the law. So going back to Paul’s question (vv1-2), yes there is a great advantage in having the very words of God, because therein lies this great revelation (Romans 1.17), clearly demonstrating, testifying to the righteousness that is grabbed by faith (v21). This is simple gospel, pure gospel, the good news Paul started with (1.1), the good news Jesus himself preached (Mark 1.15), repent, in other words a sincere, heart changing apology to God for sin, without any thought of returning to it. Believe, that is throwing oneself upon Jesus Christ with a complete and utter confidence in his mercy. You can do it confidently because it is from God (v22), confidence that he will accept you, declare you righteous, reconcile you to him, by faith. Rejoice Christian friend today, in the inestimable goodness of God in Jesus Christ to you, sin is gone, condemnation has been lifted (Romans 8.1), you are free, free to worship and enjoy God (Romans 12.1), and that forever.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)