Today’s Reading: Jer 21:1–22:30, Rom 3:1–20, Prov 17:1–28
Today’s Theme: God’s Good Law
Today’s reading is rich with practical and theological truth. It is hard to do justice to the richness of the writing of Paul in Romans in such a short format as these notes.
One of the most important themes we see today is the purpose of God’s good law which makes it clear to us that we are not good and therefore need the good news found in the Gospel of God who is faithful to His word and people.
Fighting a losing battle
I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and in fury and in great wrath. (Jeremiah 21:5, ESV)
If God fights against you then you are finished, it is like an ant fighting a man, there is no contest. We need to learn to humble ourselves before God not just because of His great power but because of His person.
Surrender and live
He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. (Jeremiah 21:9, ESV)
To stubbornly take our stand has no virtue, sometimes we need to surrender and live. That was literally the case for the people of Judah. God gave them good advice through the prophet to preserve the lives of those who would humble themselves and listen.
There may be a situation in your life today where God wants you to surrender. Maybe you need to surrender your right to retaliate in a disagreement with someone for example.
Justice in the city
Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. (Jeremiah 22:3, ESV)
God wants to see justice in the city. The church has a big role to play in establishing God’s kingdom in the earth and seeing justice, mercy and truth reign in every place.
We should pray for and practically seek to establish justice in the city we live in and the world in the name of Jesus, to the glory of God for the joy and flourishing of all peoples.
A worker should be paid fairly
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages, (Jeremiah 22:13, ESV)
It is evil to have a man work for you with no remuneration (payment).
It is also wicked that the third world is exploited in the production of goods for the first world.
We should seek to raise awareness and shop in a way that reflects our beliefs that the trading practices which see a worker on only pennies a day is wrong and not in keeping with Christian values.
What are your eyes for?
But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.” (Jeremiah 22:17, ESV)
Lord help us to have eyes and hearts for You, in this context eyes means desire or longing for.
Replacement theology debunked
Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. (Romans 3:2, ESV)
Replacement theology (the idea that God is finished with the national / physical people Israel, having replaced them with the church) is shown to be an unbiblical teaching here.
Paul has spent the last two chapters consigning all mankind under sin and has shown that both those under the law as Jews and not under the law as Gentiles have the same problem which is the bondage of sin.
If Paul’s theology were over simplified at this point then there would no longer be any distinction and the Jews as an entity would cease to exist, however this is not the case.
Paul asks the question what advantage is there in being a Jew and in having the Jewish people and he answers that there are indeed advantages and distinctions?
Paul’s outline which he will expound upon further in Chapters 9-11 explain that for God to prove Himself faithful to the Jews as a people matters a great deal.
We are given two simple examples to that end here. On the one hand, without the Jews there would be no Old Testament to be fulfilled and on the other they were the ones entrusted with the scriptures upon which we now stand and depend.
So God has not discarded His people Israel. There are promises He has made which are yet to come to pass including Jesus ruling from David’s throne in Jerusalem (not in Rome, London or Washington).
God is faithful
What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 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.” (Romans 3:3–4, ESV)
Just because many Jews are unfaithful to God, this does not change God’s faithfulness. God will uphold the covenant and will fulfil every promise and decree.
Many are fulfilled in Jesus but there are some which Jesus is yet to fulfil in context to the actual (not inward or spiritual) Jewish people.
We take comfort from this as disciples of Jesus Christ, if God’s promises, favour and relationship to us was based on our faithfulness we would be without hope, but even when we are unfaithful like many Jews, God remains faithful to us as His people of the New Covenant. Just as He is still faithful to the Jews as His people of the Old and New Covenant.
Us not believing God does not change God but we will suffer for our lack of faith. The proper response to God’s promises and person is to place our trust in Him and remain faithful (theologically and relationally) to Him.
With this in mind let’s pray for the Jews today, because God has not changed, let’s pray that their eyes are opened to be faithful to their own scriptures and will see Yeshua (Jesus) as their promised Messiah and evidence of God’s faithfulness and commitment to fulfil His word.
We all need Jesus
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, (Romans 3:9, ESV)
The lie of the enemy to make either Gentiles or Jews feel or seem superior is dismantled here. We are all sinners in need of a saviour.
This is something Paul was dealing with in Rome, where Jews had been expelled from Rome the Gentiles began to dominate and disconnect themselves from their Jewish roots and even see themselves as replacing the Jews. On the other hand there had always been Jews who saw themselves as superior and would seek to force others to be circumcised and keep the laws of Moses.
Both of these extremes are of course wrong. Paul holds to the same truth he has been expounding on which is that both Jew and Gentile are bound under sin and so are in need of the Gospel of God which is the power of God to bring salvation through Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (Romans 3:10, ESV)
This and the following statements make clear that all have sinned.
The Reformers were right in affirming from this letter to the Romans that all mankind is totally depraved in our nature.
We denounce the ancient Pelagian heresy which says man can be righteous or without sin. We also denounce modern day heresy which says there is no sin. We affirm with Paul and the scriptures that every man that has ever lived is not righteous in themselves and have all committed sin except Jesus the Christ.
We also affirm that man’s righteousness is like filthy rags in comparison to the righteousness that God demands.
We finally affirm that true right standing with God is only available through Jesus Christ which is in agreement with the sound teaching of the Bible and the Gospel of God.
It is important to remember that this canvas of the universality, totality and helplessness of man’s condition in sin must be well stated for the Gospel to be needed, make sense and retain its context and power to save.
We are not good
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:12, ESV)
No one is good!
Our human centered way of thinking has us believing the lie that man is essentially good when the reality is that man is essentially bad.
This is again why the Way of the Master really have grasped this truth of scripture so well. In their method of evangelism they encourage us to ask a person if they think they are a good person and when they answer yes we help them to see that they are not by reviewing a short number of basic commands.
You can do this as you share the truth today, help people to break the lie of the enemy and see that they are not good and need to be transformed by the power of God found in the good news of the victorious and glorious Gospel of God.
God is good and He seeks to save us bad people, remaking us in His good image, making us conform to the perfect and good example, Jesus Christ.
The purpose of the law
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. (Romans 3:19, ESV)
God’s law shuts the proud mouth helping them realise they are not good and need God’s grace.
God’s law holds the whole world accountable before God.
Some say talking about God’s law makes us legalist but that is not true because then Paul would be a legalist as well.
We speak about the law to bring context to our need for not only salvation but supernatural transformation by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit who makes us alive in Christ as new creatures.
As new creatures with new natures and motivations we live by faith in the Son of God and through our love for God and for His glory keep the moral law. It literally becomes our nature as new creations and is the natural outworking of a genuine and loving relationship with God.
So the point is the law has a purpose in defining the need for the Gospel and must not be absent from our Gospel presentations.
The law CANNOT justify us
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20, ESV)
The law was not designed for justification before God but to highlight and give knowledge of what sin is before God so we would see our need for God.
We can’t be justified by it because it was not designed or purposed to that end. It serves as a large signpost on the road to our destination. Our destination is God.
The end of the Gospel is to have God as our greatest treasure and to enjoy Him forever. God is the Gospel because it is He who has come to save us, transform us, forgive us and keep us forever.
Use the signpost of the law to point others to the Gospel of God and ultimately to God Himself.
The crucible purifies
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. (Proverbs 17:3, ESV)
The analogy with the crucible and furnace shows that when the Lord tests our hearts it is a purifying process.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9, ESV)
Lord help us to be those who cover offence to seek love and so we do not separate close friends.
Take rebuke deeply
A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. (Proverbs 17:10, ESV)
Learn to take rebuke deeply, to the roots to grow and learn by it.
Quit the argument early
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14, ESV)
Lord help us to quit early before the quarrel breaks out and causes a mess.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17, ESV)
Lord help us to be true friends and brothers.
The medicine of joy
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22, ESV)
Lord help us to have the medicine of joy in our heart.
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:27, ESV)
Lord help us to have a cool spirit, not to be hot tempered people who fly off the handle.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
Desiring God on Romans 3