“Wrestling With Romans”
Religious Sand or Solid Rock? (Chapter 3 Verses 21-31)
The cross is God’s vindication of himself (vv25-26). Fulfilling the terms of his own justice. It is all his doing, can you see, whom God hath set forth, presented that is (v25). He did this (v26). If it were man’s doing it would not be worth a thing. Man’s response is important, faith. You see how Paul repeats it over and over, right through to the end of the chapter (v31), faith, faith, faith. No law, no works, just faith, makes the cross effective in your life, from beginning to end. The presentation of Jesus’ blood works retroactively too, blotting out even the sins of the Old Testament saints (Hebrews 9.15), in exactly the same way, by faith. Those saints who believed what all the types, the Law, and the Prophets spoke of, their sins went unpunished, until the time, when Christ’s blood was shed, then their sins were truly remitted. Little wonder they longed for Christ’s coming (Matthew 13.17; John 8.56). It is not that there was any uncertainty about the matter in the Divine mind, it was already accomplished back in eternity (Revelation 13.8), yet everything rested upon the actual historical act of Jesus going to that cross, doing his obedience to his Father (Philippians 2.8). You can see why the forces of hell tried every trick in the book, and then some more, to do away with the Lord Jesus before his time (John 8.20). The grand result? God is seen, demonstrated, to be utterly just, and is yet able to justify sinners, how? By faith in Jesus’ redeeming blood, that is how (v26).
So, where does that put boasting (v27)? The extreme arrogance of the Jews, who looked down their noses at the Gentiles, and loved doing so, it was totally uncalled for, unjustified. It is no less uncalled for amongst Christians. Why? Because they have the same advantage as that of the Jews, they have the word of God (vv1-2), and through that word have a knowledge of their own personal sin (v20), and better still the method, the way, by which they become righteous (vv21-26). Is this not advantage, privilege? If we have an advantage over others, a God-given advantage, privilege, then ask yourself Paul’s question, really, where does that put boasting? It is not permitted, it is excluded altogether (1Corinthians 1.18-30). The reason is quite plain (vv27b-31), because our righteousness is received simply by faith, not by moral observance (Romans 2.1-16), not by religious observance (Romans 2.17-29), God has blown all that away (v28). The way of faith is more sure (v22; 26), because it rests upon, and trusts in, what God himself has done (v25). Is not that solid ground? Do you not feel safer on God’s ground, solid rock, rather than religious sand?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)