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Who can Keep the Family Promise?

Romans 2:25-27

Circumcision was very important for the Jews.  It was the sign of God's family promise which was originally given to Abraham (Genesis 17:1-14).  It was a constant reminder to every Jewish man and his wife that God would love, protect and bless His people if they were loyal to Him.  It was so important that Old Testament Jews would be excluded from God’s family if they were not circumcised (Genesis 17:14).  

God Knows those who Belong to Him

Romans 2:28-29

External appearances are all that we can see.  Religion, wherever it may be found, tends to accumulate external symbols, rites and ceremonies which are considered 'essential' for anyone who wants to be a part of it.  That was the Jewish background too.  When some Jews believed in Jesus as the Messiah, they wrongly thought the signs guaranteed their salvation.

Knowing the Truth Carries Responsibilties

Romans 3:1-4

Paul the Apostle had just told his Roman readers that being a Jew, knowing the law and being circumcised cannot save them (Romans 2:28-29).  They need Jesus the Messiah just as much as the Gentile believers.  But then he asked the question, ‘Is there no benefit to being a Jew?’  Here Paul affirms the Jewish believers: yes, knowing the truth is much better than being ignorant.

What is God Like?

Romans 3:5-8

These seem technical, almost legal, arguments.  But they reveal God’s character and refute false human ideas about Him.  The key question in these verses is ‘Is God fair to condemn sinners who cannot help sinning?’  Parallel questions are, ‘Does God need our badness for Himself to be seen as infinitely good by comparison?’, and ‘Does He need our unrighteousness to demonstrate His own glory?’  In other words, is God’s glory like that of conquering imperial warlords whose glorious power is demonstrated in the brutal treatment of the conquered?  

What is Human Nature Like?

Romans 3:9-12

Paul has been setting the scene before he introduces the gospel (Romans 1:16-17).  The gospel means 'good news', so first he has to explain the 'bad news' to which the gospel is the antidote.  He says that the human heart is naturally opposed to God. That might be assumed for the Gentiles, but the Jews are no better. There is no saving power in religion.  Even the 'best' person is bad in God's sight.

Expressing Human Nature

Romans 3:13-18

Most of the time, people act in a socially acceptable way.  They are restrained from breaking laws because they fear punishment, and controlled by social traditions because they fear being excluded.  However, underneath the external niceness lie hearts which can produce poisonous speech and violent actions. That is why drunkenness is so ugly; it is not 'the alcohol talking', but the real man or woman is being displayed as inhibitions are removed. These verses quoted from the Psalms reveal that nobody's nature is good enough for God.

Silence in Court

Romans 3:19-20

Some people, who do not know Jesus, say things like, ‘When I see God I will tell Him what I think ...!’  What foolish arrogance!  Paul says that when we all see God, and that means everybody, we will all become silent before Him.  We will not be able to answer any accusation, blame Him or make any excuse.  That happened when the religious leaders confronted Jesus; they could not defend themselves against the truth He spoke about them (Luke 20:26).

Moving from Wrongfulness to Righteousness

Romans 3:21-24

The Apostle Paul has been relentless in describing God’s judgement of sin from Romans 1:18-3:20.  Much of the writing was addressed to the Jewish-background believers who were basing their spiritual confidence in their knowledge of God’s Law with its heritage and rituals.  But none of that could save them or make them righteous before God.

The Sacrifice of Atonement

Romans 3:25-26

Most people, who know anything about Jesus Christ,understand that He died a criminal's death on a Roman execution cross. But surprisingly few people know why He died.

Who can Boast?

Romans 3:27-31

Pride is a habit for many religious people; they feel good about themselves because they follow the rules of their religion - or at least, most of the rules most of the time.  But that is not how a relationship with the true God works.  If it was about our personal virtue, moral strength, pious disciplines – then we could boast if we were successful.  But the truth is that however hard we try, we fail (Romans 7:15-19).  None of us has anything to boast about before God.