Summary: In this passage the Apostle Paul asks and answers two questions, one dealing with God’s faithfulness, and the second dealing with our sin.
Today we resume our study in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. My series is titled, Romans: The Good News of God.”
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter, the greatest letter ever written, to explain to the Christians in Rome, and to all Christians, how God brings us into a right relationship with himself.
3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,
“That you may be justified in your words,
and prevail when you are judged.”
5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. (Romans 3:3-8)
It is not often that you or I get to witness an exceptional mind at work, particularly in a debate or other confrontational situation.
The presidential debates, which have become a staple of the American election process every four years, should provide it. But they do not. Usually they are only presentations of well-rehearsed positions, with little true interaction, and they are slanted to the media and what we have come to call “image building.”
Law courts, where legal questions are argued and decided, could provide an example, but the discussions are usually humdrum and technical. Besides, few of us have opportunities to witness trials.
Presbytery meetings and General Assemblies sometimes provide opportunities to witness excellent debates. But, usually only elders get to attend Presbytery meetings and General Assemblies.
I have wracked my mind trying to think of where one would see great minds at work, and I cannot think of an example.
The closest example of settings in which most of us could see keen minds at work were on some of those television programs like Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” or William Buckley’s “Firing Line.” But, the current television formats cater to “sound bites” and not to substantial debate.
The Apostle Paul was a keen-thinking individual, perhaps one of the sharpest men who ever lived. But we do not have many places at which to observe his mind in action.
In the book of Acts, which records the progress of his missionary journeys, we are told repeatedly that Paul went into the Jewish synagogues and “reasoned” with the Jews (cf. Acts 9:22; 17:2-3, 17; 18:4, 28; 19:8). But there is almost no record of the form these debates took or of how Paul dealt with the questions his opponents would have been asking.
And so, as I say, there are not many places where we can see Paul’s brilliant mind in action. But here in Romans 3 we get at least a glimpse into the kind of back-and-forth reasoning that must have taken place regularly in Paul’s ministry.