Romans 2 leaves off seeming to condemn the Jews the most. Paul starts there, and starts the questions that he’ll continues in the next few chapters. He quickly, though, goes to the conclusion that he has been headed toward in chapters 1 & 2. Since this conclusion, this peak, only leads to despair, he finishes the chapter with the answer. Because he shows that no one can get to heaven by works, he shows the better way.
First he starts by asking, if the Jew is guilty of breaking God’s laws, of boasting when he has nothing to boast about, and causing God’s name to be blasphemed, what is the advantage of being a Jew? He says there are many benefits, then only gives the one, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. Expect to see other benefits later, as sort of a sub-plot of Romans. Then he asks questions leading to some of his “May it never be” statements. Will the Jews unbelief nullify God’s faithfulness? “May it never be.” Would God be unjust to punish us for the sins that prove His righteousness. “May it never be.” If my sin gives God glory, would he be wrong to judge us? “May it never be.” Should we do evil, so good will come of it? “May it never be.”
If those are wrong thinkings, what is the right one? Philosophers poke holes in the arguments of the various religions, similar to the questions Paul just asked. Typically, religions have arisen that promote obeying one law or another as the way to Heaven. They all see that everyone is imperfect. As a result, they have tried to deal with this lack of purity. In Hinduism, you have to be reborn thousands or millions of times before you obtain this perfection. In Islam, God has to tolerate some sin to let some into heaven. Your good deeds have to outweigh your bad ones by some factor to cross the as-
Sirat bridge. The more the good deeds outweigh the bad, the faster and easier you cross. Paul shows that by God’s standards, all are guilty of breaking the law, and it just takes once. “There is none righteous.” Everyone must go to hell because God is a pure and righteous God that can tolerate no hint of sin. Since all, Jew, Roman, or “savage” are bound up by this conclusion, none can boast. All sinned and all know they sinned.
We are left with the question, How can a loving God throw anyone into hell but how can a righteous God let anyone into heaven? We can’t see a way past this conundrum, but God does something that no one, not even Satan could foresee. He brings in a righteousness apart from the law (apart from obeying the law perfectly.) With all deserving of hell, how did God let some into heaven in the past? He passed over their sins. He did so, looking foreward to Jesus dying on the cross. Jesus, being sinless, didn’t deserve death. Death by taking Him broke the rule that only sinners die. Therefore, Jesus death could be applied elsewhere. It became a propitiation, a satisfaction, or full payment for our sins. It is like being in jail, accused of murder (which you did.) The governor writes you a full pardon. You have a choice, reject the pardon and stand before the judge on your merits, or accept the pardon. This accepting of the pardon is called faith or trust. I trust God’s free gift (grace) of being justified. Think of JUSTIFIED as JUST as IF I’D never sinned. Now, no matter what we have done, God declares us pure. If you reject the pardon, you remain a lawbreaker and must face judgment day.
OK, we are justified, just as we are. We are justified by faith, part of living by faith. What does that mean for us from now on. Is the law over? Can we boast as Christians? Can we do anything in our lifestyle? What are the implications? Now that Paul has shown what Jesus great work on the cross did, he needs to take us on from there. He will take us into a few more valleys leading to the next high point. Watch for more of these “May it never be” questions, the “advantages of being a Jew” statements, and of course, our theme, “the just shall live by faith.”