Summary: Man is ultimately responsible for any and all of his actions. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a verse that excuses man’s sin. Rather what it does prove is that we have an all-knowing God, an omniscient God.
Crossing the Line
Scripture: Romans 3:5-6
5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" 8 Why not say--as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say--" Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.
I think it’s quite staggering to think that God knows our thoughts. He knows our every move, our every inclination, and our every feeling. And, essentially, that’s what these first several verses of Romans chapter three represent. They represent those muddled and not well thought out what if questions that God knew would come up in the minds of these first century Jews.
In its context, verse five primarily refers to the wicked history of the people to whom the very words of God had been entrusted.
5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)
Notice Paul says our unrighteousness. He is referring to the unrighteousness of Israel throughout its sinful history. Abraham sought out Egypt and not God; Isaac wanted to give the birthright to Esau rather than Jacob, whom he had been directed to give it in the first place; Jacob was a crook. Yet, through all of this sin, God still says to Moses…
(Exodus 3:15) God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ’The LORD, the God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob--has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
These very sins enslaved Israel in Egypt, and, when their redemption was near, they preferred to go back to slavery rather than accept God’s emancipation through grace.
Time and time again, Moses had to figuratively stand behind the wandering Israelites and push them to their next destination. As they progress through the years, through the promised land, they came to a place in their beliefs that, since they were the chosen people, they had certain inalienable rights with God and that, therefore, He must overlook anything that they did contrary to His will.
They were not very far from antinomianism [an•ti•no•mi•an•ism], which is the polar opposite of legalism, the belief that obedience to a code of religious law is necessary for salvation. They were not very far from this definition as they were but one step away from the idea that they were under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality as presented by God.
You see all of this sin, all of this unrighteousness that was in the lives of the Israelites, the history of the Israelites…which in their sinful minds begs the question: 5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? In other words, didn’t we, through our disobedience, show to the Egyptians and Philistines that Jehovah was the true and all-powerful God? In short, didn’t our sin make you look better? And, Paul answers, (in verse 6), Certainly not!
What was God’s answer during the wandering of the Jews? What was God’s answer during their rebellion?
(Deuteronomy 31:16-17) And the LORD said to Moses: "You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. 17 On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and difficulties will come upon them, and on that day they will ask, ’Have not these disasters come upon us because our God is not with us?’
Have not these disasters, to what disasters are they referring? Ask the Egyptians, the Philistines, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, Titus, and even the Mohammedan conquerors that built the Mosque of Omar. Ask the Russian Czars that persecuted the Jews, even changing their names. Ask Hitler. All of these will all tell you that God was true to His statement. Further, to punctuate what they were going to do, God told the Israelites that they would memorize a song. A song that was to testify against their sins, and the disasters and difficulties that they would undergo.
(Deuteronomy 31:21) And when many disasters and difficulties come upon them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath."