Summary: Paul is pushing us all up against what we believe and how we live.
There’s the right way and the other way Romans 3:19-31
This story was told by Napoleon to spark patriotism among his men. Once, while visiting a province he came upon an old soldier in full uniform who had one sleeve hanging empty and he proudly wore the coveted Legion of Honor. Napoleon asked, "Where did you lose your arm?" The soldier answered, "At Austerlitz, sire."
Napoleon asked, "And for that you received the Legion of Honor?" The man said, "Yes, sire but it is a small token to pay for the decoration." Napoleon continued, "You must be the kind of man who regrets he did not lose both arms for his country." The one-armed man asked, "What then would have been my reward?"
Napoleon answered, "I would have awarded you a double Legion of Honor." And with that, the proud old fighter drew his sword and cut off his other arm.
This was a great story of patriotic duty and apparently it was very effective in stirring up in Napoleon's men a desire to sacrifice even more for the cause of France; but there was a problem with the story and it was years before anyone dared to ask Napoleon the question, "How did the soldier cut off his arm when he only had one?" Good questions often lead to the facts.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
I The purpose of the law Verses 19-20
II The predicament of us all verses 21-26
III The salvation of God verses 27-31
I The purpose of the law Verses 19-20
Paul has been harping about the law for the past two chapters and he had a good reason. As Churchill once said, “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever but use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.” I think Paul has come at the issue of the law for the exact same reason. It was an important point.
There were many in the church at Rome who had been raised in an orthodox Jewish home and many of them had spent their youth memorizing and meditating on scripture and yet, they had missed the point altogether. Listen, knowing the scripture never produces spirituality but scripture points the way to spiritualty and Paul was saying, the purpose of the law was not to enlighten your souls but to point out the obvious, that we’re all sinners who are in need of God’s salvation.
For instance, in the ten commandments we’re not told how to become good believers but we’re told to avoid such sins as, idol worship, being dishonorable to our parents, murder, committing adultery, stealing, lying to or about others and coveting other people’s things. These commandments were meant to demonstrate not only the proper way to live but also to point out how all of us have fallen short of God’s expectations. Paul clearly tells us in verse 20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Simply put, no one has ever been or will ever be saved by keeping the law.