I’ve been thinking I should start writing 3-4 posts related to a particular theme. I had not quite decided to do so, but it appears that this week’s post will be related to last week’s post about Romans. I’ve just completed my fourth year of Bible Study Fellowship and this year's study was Romans. As we finished the year, I have been reflecting on some things I learned and how they apply in today’s world. Last week’s post was about how we so easily recognize the sins of others, but fail to recognize our own. After reading Roman’s 2, my sin became much more apparent. Before this realization, there was little focus on my need for forgiveness during prayer. Now I see much more need for my own forgiveness.
As we read on through Romans 2 and 3, Paul writes about the law. I was confused about these references. Romans 3:19-20 19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says it to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight be observing the law rather through the law we become conscious of sin. What law is Paul writing about? I turned to Google. I found several different articles on this topic. Some say Paul is referring to the Natural Law, which would be the natural set of morals that are a part of human creation, instinct, and consciousness. Others say Paul is referencing God’s Law, or the Law of Moses, the Mosaic Law given to the Israelites in the first five books of the Bible. This includes the Ten Commandments and more.
If we just think about the Ten Commandments, are we guiltless? For example, thou shalt not steal—Exodus 20:15. Let’s say I went out to dinner with the family and ordered a steak and baked potato. The waitress asks if I would like to add a salad for just $2.99. Sure! She brings the salad, then the meal, I eat, have good conversation, then she brings the bill. I scrutinize the bill to make sure it is correct. I notice that the $2.99 salad is not listed. I give her my credit card to pay the bill. I leave a tip, sign the receipt, and we leave the restaurant. I just stole a salad. In my mind I may be thinking several things: Well, she brought it to me; she was the one who forgot, not me; their loss, my gain; well at least I left a nice tip; she forgot to put the bacon bits on the salad, anyway; it’s just lettuce; they mark that food up so high, what’s a free salad. This is my conscience. It won’t let me rest because of my sin. I broke the law. I cannot justify myself no matter how hard I try.
Paul says in Romans 2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. I knew stealing was a sin, because I had heard the Ten Commandments before. I am not righteous because I did not obey the law. This is just an example, but think of how many times a day we sin. Add it up—how many times do we sin in a month, a year, a lifetime! We know better, but our human nature is out of control.
After reading several different perspectives, Paul's references to the law boil down to our knowledge of right versus wrong. We know right, because we have heard it, but we don’t always choose right. Those who choose right, 100% of the time, are the only ones who will be declared righteous before God. No one chooses right 100% of the time, so no one will be declared righteous without faith in Jesus Christ. We think of all sorts of ways to justify our wrongs, but it is not possible. Our sins can only be justified through Jesus.
Romans 3:21-24 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it--22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
William Tyndall said, “We are sinners not because we break the law; we break the law because we are sinners.” Read that statement again. We can’t escape sin because we are sinners by nature. We have inherited a sin nature. Sin dates back to the first man and woman on earth. They are our ancestors and have passed their sin nature down through the generations. Romans 5:12 12Therefore, just as sin came in to the world though one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. It is because of our sin that we all need a savior. That savior is Jesus Christ.
Thank you for reading!
Copyright 2018 Kimberly Griffith Anderson
If you like this style of writing, you will enjoy Turn North: A 30-Day Devotional and Journal written by the author of this blog.