Sermon: What Advantage Has the Jew? Romans 3:1-20

What Advantage Has the Jew?

Romans 3:1-20

Truth Taught- All mankind is enslaved by sin and unless God works will be rightly judged by God

Introduction

So far, Paul has laid out for us the universal truth that all mankind is sinful and, unless God works, will be justly condemned.

This is the final section where Paul proves this fact by addressing the people who claim to be on a right standing with God because of their status as Jews.

This portion of Scripture naturally divides itself up by way of two questions. Both questions have the Jewish people as their focus…

Then what advantage has the Jew?

What then? Are we Jews any better off?

Human Need

The great need we have is to be reminded that trying to keep the Law of God to merit salvation is always fruitless.

  1. Their condemnation is just.

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 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.”

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.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
This section shows us that God’s righteousness is revealed or shown in both punishing the religious unbeliever as it is in rescuing the believer.

He wants his Jewish kinsmen to realize that their linage, while it does have an advantage, possessing the oracles of God or we could say the Scriptures it is not a get out of jail free card. Because they’ve been given this privilege they must use it for God’s glory. Their thinking was that the Law of God could be lived out completely and in doing so would give them the claim of eternal life with God. Their way of thinking involved a works religion.
With this in mind, it is a wonderful thing to be a Jew and to have the Word of God. However, those certain privileges bring with them certain responsibilities.
It’s a wonderful thing to have the promises God gave to Abraham.


Genesis 12:1–3 (ESV)

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Here lies the question Paul is posing. Can God keep His covenant promises and pour out His wrath on His covenant people for their sin?

The answer is that not all of the Jews are God’s people in the sense of salvation. It was through Abraham the Messiah would come and through Him the entire world is blessed because there are people from every tribe, tongue and nation who will be saved. Is God unfaithful and untrue to His covenant promise to Abraham when there are a large number of Jews who do not believe the Gospel and are rightly judged accordingly?

Notice his conclusion…
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,
God is just when He judges, even His covenant people for their unbelief.   His further conclusion is that God is still faithful to His promises even if the whole world would die in unbelief.
In verse three, Paul is quoting from Psalm 51 in the context of David’s sin with Bathsheba. In David’s confession he acknowledges that He has sinned mainly against God and that God would be right if He poured His wrath out on David. The reason Paul does this is to say, you don’t get any more Jewish than King David and if God would have been just in judging David He is more than right to condemn anyone who does not believe. So, David says that God is right to forgive whomever He wants and condemn whomever He wants.

Human thinking can get so corrupt by sin to even twist what God has done in redemptive history.

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.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
They are saying that if our sin even shows God’s righteousness in judgment and since God is glorified when His righteousness is shown then we are free to sin and give God opportunity to show either forgiveness or judgment. Paul calls this slander and says that those who even think this way are condemned justly.
2. By works of the law no human being will be justified

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,

One thing we must note in this passage is that Paul writes are the Jews any better off. Doesn’t say, are they any better but literally is their eternal destiny going to be any better simply due to the fact that they are Jewish. His answer is no. We could ask a similar question are people who know a little Bible any better off? The conclusion is the same…while being Jewish and knowing some Bible is good, unless there is a true heart change, those people are not any better off. Someone can be Jewish and know some Bible and still be eternally condemned. It is all of grace.

Here’s a picture of those without salvation. Those who are lost, those who are trying to work their way into God’s kingdom by keeping the Law. So we could say, to all who are not coming to God empty-handed by faith these verses are true. These verses depict those who are not in Christ and are under the control of sin. To be enslaved by sin means that at every point the sinner will turn away from God. They do this because God has not worked in their heart. This is a visible picture to us of what it looks like to be enslaved by sin. Only God can break the yoke of slavery. We cannot make any difference if God is not working…

10 as it is written:

       “None is righteous, no, not one;

11        no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

12    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

13    “Their throat is an open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.”

       “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

14        “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

15    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16        in their paths are ruin and misery,

17    and the way of peace they have not known.”

18        “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 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. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Again, as in other places in Romans we are told that the Law of God was never meant to kept for salvation but it is the righteous demands of God that holds us accountable, showing sin to us.

Paul has used the phrase, Works of the Law a few times. What typically happened to the Jew who saw the Law as the way we find justification with God was that because they could never keep it they had to change it a water it down or only view part of it as binding. Somehow they were seeking to justify themselves in their thinking because maybe there was one part they were good at. Paul wants to make sure we are fully aware of the fact that because it is the entire Law of God, every jot and title that is binding, all humanity falls entirely short.

To seek salvation this way is to be eternally lost because while perhaps one could keep a little portion of the Law of God or maybe a person has a little Bible knowledge it is the heart that remains unchanged by God.

Galatians 3:10–11 (ESV)

 

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Application

So, we must abandon all and any hopes we might have in gaining God’s favor through works.

So, the central thrust of the first section was to cut off any way of escape for the unrepentant religious person. No one can come to God apart from Christ. The central theme for the second section is that I must abandon all hope that I can come to God based on my works. All mankind without Christ will be eternally condemned all who come to God by faith without the works of the Law will be gloriously saved.

  1. The Good News

The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

 

 

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