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Romans 3:1-31

Believe the Verdict

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • September 10, 2023

When Paul comes to chapter 3, he compels us to understand how much we need faith, and how much we need to believe that any standing we have before God is God’s doing.

If someone just turns to God and believes with their heart, that’s all God is asking. Like the murderer on the cross next to Jesus. It’s simple, humble faith. Believe the verdict of the Righteous Judge.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Believe the Verdict
Romans 3:1-31
Sep 10, 2023

Paul has been building a case for why we need God. God has made himself known, for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.

God expects a response. He knows the condition we were born in; as I’ve mentioned before, every one of us is born selfish and self-centered and the result is every imaginable ungodly and unrighteous thing. At some stage, it catches up to you.

What’s a sinner to do?

That’s why Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, it is the power of God to save people out of the condition they were born in to bring them into a relationship with the living God.

The gospel can take a sinner and make him righteous in one verse, “He made him who knew no sin to become sin in our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

But a sinner is made righteous when he owns the fact that he is a sinner and takes God at His word by faith. A sinner is made righteous by faith and faith alone. It’s God’s amazing grace. The words of that famous hymn capture that truth very powerfully; “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

Then last week Paul told us that some can’t receive the grace of God because they are blinded by their own self-righteousness. Being born selfish and self-centered like everyone else, they think more highly of themselves than they ought and because they’re a few steps higher in the mud than some others, they pass judgment and look down on others.

In other words, they think too lightly of the riches of God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads to repentance. If they could see how much they themselves need God’s grace and God’s kindness and patience, they would have more grace toward others.

Then, leaving no one out, Paul confronted the person who thinks they are made right before God simply because they were born Jewish. Being Jewish and being circumcised means nothing if the heart is not circumcised. The external was a foreshadowing of what Christ would do in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

Paul is taking apart every argument so that we’re left with one inescapable conclusion, sinners are hopelessly lost unless they take God at His word and receive God’s offer to forgive their sin and receive the righteousness that God will give them as a gift; all by grace.

When Paul comes to chapter 3, he compels us to understand how much we need faith, and how much we need to believe that any standing we have before God is God’s doing.

If someone just turns to God and believes with their heart, that’s all God is asking. Like the murderer on the cross next to Jesus. It’s simple, humble faith. Believe the verdict of the Righteous Judge.

I. Think Highly of God’s Kindness

  • In the last chapter, Paul said that we must not think lightly of the kindness and forbearance and patience of God.
  • He then confronted the person who believes they are just before God because of their Judaism. Paul said that a Jew is a Jew who is one inwardly, circumcised of heart, by the Spirit, so that his praise is from God.
  • It’s always been about the heart. And, by the way, the same is true for a Christian. A Christian is one who is one inwardly, of the heart, and his relationship is with God.
  • But since he has brought up Israel, there’s a lot to learn from them about the kindness and patience of God, because by their unfaithfulness the vastness of God’s kindness and patience was revealed.

A. In His kindness God is always faithful

  • There have always been those who would not believe, but their unbelief does not nullify the faithfulness of God. He is always true to His word. He is always faithful to His promises.

2 Timothy 2:13, If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Hebrews 10:23, Let us hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

  • When you think about how good the good news of the gospel is, you would think that everyone would be glad and quick to receive it.

Illus – I love a bargain. My wife and I are bargain hunters. The other day we went into Kohls and found they had an 85% sale on shoes. The two women in our house bought six pairs of shoes for the price of two. That is amazing news. I just wanted to tell everyone I know about this sale.  

  • So why is it that so many will not believe? It’s because of the condition of the heart we were born into. Paul describes it powerfully in this chapter.
  • Verses 10-18 give one of the best descriptions of the condition of man’s heart that you’ll ever read.

B. It’s honesty that turns the heart

  • Verse 4 is powerful; “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”
  • Then Paul quotes from Psalm 51 where David is confessing his sin with Bathsheba before the Lord.

Psalm 51:1-4, Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.

  • When David gets honest with himself and with God, his heart turns. When he’s ready to say, “You’re right, Lord,” he’s ready to get right with God.

Illus – The same is true in parenting. One of the most important keys is to turn a child’s heart so they understand what’s right and they own what they’ve done and can say, “You’re right, mom and dad.” Good parents do this because they want the best for their children and want them to succeed and grow in integrity and godly character. A rebellious child that turns from good will inevitably reap the bad fruit in the future.

  • The same is true for us, it’s that point of honesty that turns the heart. God’s word is true; what God says about us is true, we’re the ones who need to change course and agree with God.
  • Many try to cover up because of shame, not wanting to be honest with God or themselves, but it is at the point of honesty that change can start.

Illus.  Let’s say a mom is out walking with her young child. She stops to chat with a friend. After a while, she glances at her child and sees the young one holding a discarded box of rat poison with some pellets still in it. Immediately she asks, ‘Did you eat any of this?’ Sensing the anxiety in the mom’s voice and that eating it would be bad, the child lies and says, ‘No Mommy!’ ‘Don’t lie to me, I need to know the truth to help you.’ ‘Okay Mom, I did.’ Mom rushes the child to the hospital where she is taken care of in time. It is uncomfortable to get the poison out, but necessary.

  • In the same way, the poison of sin needs to be taken out of us. But you need to agree to treatment from the Great Physician, Jesus, who is the healer of the soul.

Illus – The health system now has a rule that underage children need to agree to treatment before treatment.

  • People tend to see agreeing with God from a negative perspective, but it is good because God’s heart for you is good. Even if you have to repent and let go of things, it is for your good.
  • God is God, and His will and truth will stand. We cannot try to twist God’s arms and force God to a point of compromise to relent to our point of view and compromise His character. Sin is sin, poison is poison, and needs to be dealt with.
  • In fact, there will come a day when everyone will agree with God, whether they want to or not.

Philippians 2:10-11, At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 C. Some people will say anything to sin

  • In verses 5-8, Paul corrects those who try to stretch the idea of God’s faithfulness, patience, and kindness to justify their sin.
  • Some people say, “Hey, if my sin makes God demonstrate His kindness and patience and forgiveness and grace, then my sin has done something good; so why not sin some more so that God’s kindness and forgiveness and grace will abound all the more? God can then use this for His glory!”
  • It’s crazy how people come up with all kinds of ways to justify themselves in their own minds. The problem is that it’s God who will be justified when he calls that kind of stuff for what it is.

Galatians 6:7-8, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

  • It’s a dangerous proposition to say, “Don’t worry about it, God forgives. I mean, since all our sins are forgiven, what does it matter?”
  • While it’s true that God forgives our sins, He also disciplines us as any good father should.

Hebrews 12:5-6, Have you forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”

  • A father who doesn’t care about his child’s wellbeing doesn’t discipline. It shows indifference. A father who wants the best for his child, disciplines and corrects.
  • God is not indifferent towards us. The condition of your soul is so important to God that He will discipline you if needed to bring you on the right track.
  • God’s heart, though, is always that we would learn from His word, obey, and align by choice with His truths and will.

II. By Faith You are Justified

  • When we get to this last section in this chapter, we come to some of the greatest truths of our faith.
  • For example, in verse 23 we get a great definition of sin –anything that falls short of the glory of God. In other words, a ridiculous number of things are sin. Everything compared to the glory of God falls short, even our best efforts.

Isaiah 64:6, For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.

  • But God gives the solution to the problem…

A. We are justified as a gift

  • Verse 24 is loaded with powerful spiritual truths that we really need to understand because it has so much to do with our relationship with God.
  • We are justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…
  • What does it mean that we are justified? Some teachers explain it by saying, it’s “Just as if I’d” never sinned. That’s saying a lot, but that’s not quite saying enough.

Illus – Part of being justified means that I’m so forgiven that my sin has been blotted out. It is like when you get in trouble with the law as a minor. Then, when you turn 18, your record is expunged, shredded, and scrubbed from the database as if it never existed.

Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, and the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

  • I love this section where God says ‘for My own sake’. It shows something of God’s heart. Sinful man cannot come in the presence of a Holy God as He will be destroyed.
  • Yet God wants to be in a relationship with us. When God wipes away our sin, it doesn’t only restore us to Him, but Him to us as well. And His name is glorified.
  • It signifies that God chooses to do it, not because we are worthy, but because He wants to. He then chooses to forget our sin.

Illus. – Many times people repent over and over for the same sin. Yet God says it is forgiven and He doesn’t remember it anymore. Many people feel ashamed and keep repenting for the same thing because they cannot believe that God could be so gracious to forgive them. So, it almost becomes a new type of penance. It is a sign of unbelief, trying to by works again gain God’s approval.

  • Now we should have remorse about our sin, but it should lead us to joy and thankfulness when we are forgiven, not shame and works.

Mica 7:19, Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

  • God has cast your sin in the depth of the sea and there is a sign that says, “No Fishing.”
  • We have even something more, we have the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself given to us as a gift.

2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him will who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  • Righteousness means to stand right with God. You are seen just as righteous as Jesus. When God looks at you, He is seeing the righteousness of Jesus.

Isaiah 61:10, For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,

Illus – One way to illustrate this great truth is with a checking account. God forgives the fact that your checking account is hopelessly overdrawn and then adds to your account the infinite righteousness of Christ. Your account can never be overdrawn again. What an amazing gift!

  • This is imputed to us by us receiving it in faith, not by feeling. We put our faith in the finished work of Jesus and His faithfulness towards us to perform what He has promised.

B. Jesus is the propitiation for our sin

  • Here is a great word for a Christian to know; Jesus is the propitiation for our sin. It means that the demands of God’s righteousness are satisfied.
  • There is a debt that comes from our sin and that debt is paid by Jesus on the cross. He took the wrath of God that we deserved. He died the death we deserved to die so that our sin is paid in full.
  • Another word that describes it is ‘atonement’. This is the same word used for the cover of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. The cover of the Ark of the Covenant was sprinkled with the blood of a bull on the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur.
  • The sacrifice on the Day of Atonement was a picture of the blood of Christ. That He might justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

  • Verse 27 – There can now be no boasting because atonement does not come through our works or upholding the law, but only by faith in the finished work of Jesus. It is God who saves.
  • When we have put our faith in Jesus, we can with surety believe in the verdict of God: Not Guilty.

Romans 3:1-31    NASB

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,

That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”? Their condemnation is just.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,

There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path 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 closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Justification by Faith

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.


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