Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, February 17, 2023
(Early) Shabbat Shalom,

May It Never Be – Romans, part 29

Romans 3:5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? God is not unrighteous to inflict wrath, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) 6 May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? 7 But if by my lie the truth of God abounds to His glory, why am I still judged as a sinner?

Paul is sharing eternal truth in a very complex way.  I was going to say these verses are easy to misunderstand, but there is nothing easy about them.  These are simply difficult verses to understand.  Paul is using the only tool available to him, words, to explain that which is hard to explain.

As we study our way through this, keep in mind that God’s goodness and righteousness is in stark contrast to our sinfulness.  (From the Sermon on the Mount) Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  In other words, the darkness of this world is the backdrop of God’s light.  John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.  Now let’s get into it.

Let me paraphrase what I hear Paul saying… (the quotes indicate I’m quoting myself) “If my unrighteousness (sin) highlights the righteousness (sinlessness) of God why should I be punished for sin?  This deserves an answer.  We can’t just end today with a question.  Paul is using rhetoric to set up those who believe there is no punishment for sin.  He provides the answer.  Romans 3:6 May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?

Rabbi Trail:  Have you heard of “antinomianism?”  It comes from two Greek words meaning “against law.”  Antinomianists believe that grace is all that matters, even to the point of intentionally sinning in order to have more grace.  I believe Paul is beginning his argument here against such false teaching.  Later we find this… Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound? 2 May it never be! How can we who died to sin still live in it? End RT.

The answer to our dilemma is found in a phrase later in the chapter Romans 3:21 & 22 (paraphrasing here).  “The righteousness of God (is revealed) through putting trust in Messiah Yeshua.”  We are not defined by sin, but by faith.  It is our trust in Messiah Yeshua that leads us out of sin.  If we sincerely follow our teacher, we do what He does.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship—created in Messiah Yeshua for good deeds, which God prepared beforehand so we might walk in them. 

Let’s do that and have the victory God intends for His people.  Shalom shalom.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Fri 17-Feb-2023 26th of Sh’vat, 5783
Ex 23:20-25 2 Ki 13 Ps 138 Jn 12:1-19 (2 Ti 4)