Summary: Do you know what are human’s three great faults? It leads us to know why we can never reach God ourselves. But we also see in chapter three how God does what we cannot.
There are three great faults in humanity—three great reasons why we have such a hard time as a race accepting the good news of Jesus Christ. Those reasons are that we are self sufficient, self justifying, and self focused. Self sufficient means we can do it ourselves, we can create goodness, we can sustain life. Self justifying means we provide the measure by which we judge ourselves. And self focused means it is all about us. At the heart of this is pride.
The first two chapters of Romans have talked about ways we keep from having to confront the three great faults. We try to ignore God, run from Him, of fool Him into thinking we are okay by ourselves with our ceremonies and heritage (we are really fooling ourselves).
Some deny there even is a God to whom we must give account. To them Paul says if you just look around there is ample evidence of the existence of a divine being – and that denying God is willful disobedience to what we know in our hearts.
Some run away from God as if He doesn’t care or is unable to respond to evil. To them Paul says God helps them do what they want, but that doesn’t remove responsibility for their actions. “There is no God – so how I act doesn’t matter.”
Some say their morality makes them deserving of acceptance. To them Paul says that unless they live a completely perfect life, a life free from the tainting of evil from birth, they cannot stand before the holiness of God. We think we are so good, but unless your rightness goes beyond the Pharisees you are not really righteous (and they were much more holy than you). “I’m not as bad as others so I as long as I’m better than you I’ll be all right.”
Some say that by the fact they are Jewish they are automatically accepted by God. To them Paul says that the same standard of righteousness will be applied to everyone, regardless of what group they belong to, how religious they are, or even what ceremonies have been applied to them like circumcision. “I’m a religious person and should be accepted on that basis before God.”
What matters is how we are and what we’ve gone.
In chapter 3 things get a little blacker before the dawn. Paul has popped the bubble of Jews who think they can get in by the badge they wear instead of the reality of their hearts, and then he finally and for all time skewers anyone who thinks they can match God in rightness.
1 – 2
The Jew might say, “I may as well not even be a Jew if what you say is true.” In fact, being a Jew is a wonderful thing—as I’ve said, they were given the Word of God, the ability to demonstrate a relationship with the One True God, and be the womb for the Messiah. They blew it, not following God’s Word, not looking to the Messiah, not even wanting a real relationship with Yahweh, but their failure doesn’t mean God’s failure.
God’s covenant is one way. He performs it. Our unfaithfulness to Him does not mean He is unfaithful.
Every person in the whole world could disagree with God, and God would still be right. The Psalm Paul quotes from is where David confessed his sin with Bathsheba before God. David tried to deny his sin and hide from the reality, but he knew deep down, and so do we, that we have failed even to live up to our own moral code, not to say anything about the full goodness of God.
5 – 6
If God’s faithfulness is not dependent on mine, then why worry about being faithful? If my sin makes God look good, why bother being good? Paul is so embarrassed by this thread of illogic that he says “I speak in a human way.”
It’s like saying “it’s not fair for You to judge us because we can’t live up to your standards—you’ve stacked the deck against us!”
God merely makes a decision (judgment, which results in wrath) based on His character—which is completely pure. The activity of God and man falls into four areas: creation, fall, redemption, and renovation. God will remake our universe without evil. Only that which is like God will make it there. As a wholly pure Being, God has every right to judge that which is not like Him.
Our problem is that we think we know better than God. God is simply observing reality. We think we are capable, but it’s sort of like asking a newborn infant to create a personal computer by himself, from scratch.
7 – 8
Some people slip into the mindset that the more I sin, the more I show how holy God is—and since it’s God’s job to forgive (He is loving after all) that it doesn’t matter how bad I am, God can’t judge me. Paul will get into this in more detail in chapter 6, but suffice it to say that our philosophical and moral games we play with God don’t wash.