Summary: We all share an individual responsibility toward the truth we profess. We can never break the plan of God by our own inconsistencies, but our inconsistencies can break our own selves against the plan of God.
The First in Line
Scripture: Romans 3:1-4
(Romans 3:1-8) 1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge."
Have you ever taken some time and watched a teacher with a group of children? I find it interesting how the sin nature will compel the children to react when their teacher yells out, “Everybody line up!” Usually there’s a little bit of reluctance, but when one or two begin to head for the teacher, chaos breaks out. There’s pushing, shoving, running, and yelling, and all so that one can get to the front of the line. Does being the first in line really mean anything? Most of the time it doesn’t mean a thing, yet within every child there is that innate desire to be first in line, to beat everyone else to the front and have that few seconds of importance in everyone else’s eyes.
When God chose Abraham He didn’t yell out, “First one here will enjoy eternity with me!” No, instead He went right to the heart of man and found the only heart that was worth being first in line. He didn’t look for the one with all the money, all the fame, or all the power. No, He went looking for a man that was devoted and committed to Him. And you all know who that was, it was Abraham. God made a choice, He made a distinction and the seed of Abraham enjoyed that distinction for many years.
In God’s eyes the Jews were first in line. However, the pride and selfishness that we mentioned earlier about the schoolchildren is that very pride that could be found in the descendants of Abraham. The pride of being chosen by God, which could have been put to good use, continued to lead the Jews astray over the centuries. Throughout the Old Testament we are able to see the ‘sin circle’ of the Jewish people. They would seek God, receive His blessings and then they would wander away from Him. Subsequently, they then would be rebuked by God and the circle would start all over again.
Nevertheless the Jewish people were a chosen people and were separated unto God, and the sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham (Genesis 17:11) was to be circumcision of the flesh.
Yet, here in verse one, Paul says:
(Romans 3:1) What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?
Why does He ask this question? After all, didn’t God set up the covenant in the first place? Well, first of all, we need to remember that Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is writing this epistle to the Romans, which means that it is actually God that is asking the question. Writing through the power of God, Paul couldn’t just simply stand up and say there wasn’t any difference because there was a difference and there had always been a difference. God Himself had laid down the rules from the beginning. If we were to read the Old Testament, we would see that God had specifically instructed the Jews on how to come Him. No other people group was allowed to approach God, unless that person had changed their nationality. Ruth had to change her nationality before she could approach God in worship.
She told Naomi…
(Ruth 1:16) Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
So, if there was an advantage to being a Jew, and being set apart by circumcision, why was Paul now saying that circumcision had nothing to offer unless there was a circumcision of the heart?
Remember in chapter two, where Paul says,
(Romans 2) 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
So what advantage is there to being a Jew?
2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.
There is the primary reason for being a Jew, “that unto them were committed the oracles (words, utterance) of God.”[KJV]. Why is this so important to the first century reader? It was important because during these times people sought out numerous other ways to learn about their futures. People used various methods to receive so-called revelations from their own pagan gods for the direction of their lives and futures. There were some that consulted the movements of fish in a tank. There were some that left a coin on the altar of Hermes then stopped up their ears and walked through a crowd, until suddenly, they unstopped their ears and took guidance and revelation from the first words uttered by someone that just happened to pass by.