Five Rhetorical Questions
Romans 3:1-9 (Pastor Heo)
3:1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” 5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
No One Is Righteous
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that *Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.*
Last Sunday, we saw in the last part “A man is not a Jew if he is merely one outwardly; a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly.” This means “true Jewishness is not a matter of physical reality, but one’s relationship with God.” This is the same for Christianity.
True Christianity is not a matter of outward membership with any one church, but with inward, daily relationship with Jesus Christ.
God looks at our hearts and our actions (which come out of our hearts).
Chp 3:1-9, Paul continues to use a diatrophy – to illustrate his point. Now, he poses rhetorical questions to reflect on his point.
Here are the five questions and answers. (These are very practical – even today, many people question and challenge these.)
#1 What advantage in being a Jew / circumcised?
A: Much in every way. They have the very Words of God.
No question, in history, in his goodness, God has blessed the Jews much spiritually and physically (The Promised Land, the Word of God – to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Samuel, etc.)
Also, even the Promised Messiah, Jesus who takes the sin of the world came into this world in the appearance of a Jewish man (not Korean). Also, Jesus’ 12 disciples were all Jewish men.
The OT is the Word of God. Also, humanly speaking, the OT is the history of Israel. This advantage of having the very Word of God = duty / responsibility – to share this Word of God with other peoples and nations to return them to God and be reconciled with God (but they failed).
What advantage in being a Christian?
Much! We have been entrusted with the very Word of God (last Sunday, we studied the name and title “Christian” – the most beautiful and influential name/title in this world) – this shows what our identity, nature, standing is in this world. We are not followers, but leaders. We are not conformers, but transformers. So, we have so many advantages and privileges so there are 2 things we must remember and practice:
- This must not make us proud and arrogant but humble (God did not give his Word to the strong and powerful in the world, but to a small, weak tribal nation – to show his greatness and make all men humble)
- “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy people, a people belonging to God – so that you may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his glorious light.” (Peter)
- Also “God chose the lowly, despised, weak to nullify the things that are strong – so that no one may boast before God.”
- We are chosen, saved, to SHARE this salvation with others. (Paul) “When I preach, I cannot boast. I am compelled to preach the gospel.”
Do you have the Word of God? If you have this Word, how do you use this very Word of God in your practical life?
This is a big privilege and challenge and responsibility.
Next questions show a BIG contrast between men’s attributes and God’s attributes.
#2 What if some are unfaithful? Will this nullify God’s faithfulness?
A: Not at all!
By nature, all human beings are faithless (unfaithful). Only God is faithful.
- This unfaithfulness of man cannot nullify the faithfulness of God – rather it ENHANCES the faithfulness of God.
- The faithlessness of man cannot be justified though it enhances God’s faithfulness.
What is God’s faithfulness? God will always do what he says / promises.
This verse referenced here is from Numbers “let every man be a liar.” also “God is not a man that he would lie. Does God promise and not fulfill?” Also “because of the Lord’s great love, compassions that never fail, we are not consumed.”
- Great is his faithfulness.
- Great is God’s faithfulness.
This is our only hope. We can worship, exalt, praise him simply because his faithfulness is great. This is the central theme of the spiritual growth of the church.
We must remember all the time that our first, basic faith was God’s loving faithfulness. “God shows his own love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Man’s unfaithfulness vs. God’s faithfulness
#3 If our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, is God unjust to judge us?
A: Certainly not! If so, how could God judge the world?
Just like man’s faithlessness, by nature, man is unjust, unfair, unrighteous. Only God is righteous, just, and fair. Also, this of man cannot nullify that of God. Rather it (also) enhances that of God.
So, what is the righteousness of God? This means God always acts in accordance with what is right. At the same time, he himself is the final standard of what is right.
God himself is right, just, and he is the initial and final standard of what is right.
God is not right because he is doing something right, BUT whatever God is doing is right, because he is always right – and is the standard of what is right.
In the Bible, the righteousness of God is revealed in 5 areas:
- punishing the wicked
- rewarding the faithful
- rewarding / vindicating his people against evil
- forgiving the penitent for their sins
Our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly. How so?
- Our awareness of sin causes us to repent – resulting in salvation
- Our repeated failures – results in a new consciousness of sin
- Our deepened understanding of sin – results in confirmation of truth that victory and spiritual growth come only from God
- God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9) – this is a big blessing to us – it becomes a big part of our testimony to others (we can share this if we experience God’s forgiveness)
- In the light of God’s righteousness, our unrighteousness makes us humble and dependent on God’s forgiveness – there is no hope without this
Man’s unrighteousness vs. God’s righteousness
#4 If my falseness increases God’s truthfulness, why am I still condemned?
Q: Do evil that good may result? Can you say this?
A: Their condemnation is deserved.
By nature, all humans are false, God only is true. This is the big and final contrast between God and man.
Man’s falsehood does not nullify God’s truthfulness. But also this falsehood cannot be justified just because it enhances the truthfulness of God.
What is the truthfulness of God? He is True, and the source of all truth, and the final standard of all truth (his Word, etc all conform to eternity).
We must not say:
God is true because he is doing something true, rather, whatever God is doing is true because God himself is True. He is the initial and final standard of truth.
Jesus also says, “I am the Truth” – so outside Christ, nothing True can be found. Outside Christ, anything truthful, righteous, faithful cannot exist. Only in Christ, truth, righteousness, and faithfulness can be found.
Man’s falsehood vs. God’s truthfulness
#5 Conclusion: Are we any better?
A: Not at all. Jews and Gentiles are all under the power of sin.
Are you saved? When we were saved, we were sinners. We were not saved because we were better, but we were saved by his own grace through our faith in Christ.
Thus, even though we are Christians, with many advantages and privileges, we are not “better.” We are all still sinners. What is your attitude toward sin? If you are truly born again, you must be serious in your attitude against sin.
Yes, we are all under sin, but if we are all born again Christians, by his grace and mercy and love, what should our attitude be against sin?
- Because Satan came into this world to tempt us and challenge us to sin.
- But Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of Satan (remove sin).
Satan always whispers (“If you feel like this….yes”) –
Satan says, “Yes, we’re all sinners, this is totally normal, don’t worry about this, keep in touch with the culture around you – you will get more experience and lessons from sin – you will experience more grace from God.”
Jesus says, “I came into this world to destroy the works of the devil and remove sin.”
God loves sinners, but hates sin.
God is too holy to be friends with sin. This is the challenge to us in this final conclusion.
Next study in Romans: “There is no one righteous, not even one – for all have fallen short of the glory of God. The final remedy for sin can only be found in Jesus Christ.”
The remedy = to not believe in Jesus and remain faithful, righteous, or truthful = an absolute impossibility, a contradiction.
The works of God for us to do =
- to believe in Christ,
- to trust in him,
- and to obey him (follow him).
- A Christian is a follower of Christ.
- Christians are not followers of this world, but followers of Christ.