The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), November 24
Ever had “the rug pulled out from under you”? The Apostle Paul pulls the rug out from under all humanity with his statement, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).
In Romans 2-3, Paul confronts the two groups that make up all the people of the world:
- Those who’ve never heard of God’s law—“For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law” (2:12). Although they don’t have the Law, their conscience acts as the law for them: “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (2:14-15). Every man has a God-given conscience that acts as a righteous standard. Guilt, fear, and shame are evidences of a violated conscience. The conscience reveals to man his need for a Savior.
- Those who’ve had God’s law and circumcision—“As many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law” (2:12). The law demands perfect obedience: “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified” (2:13). No man keeps the law perfectly. Circumcision doesn’t prevent a man from sinning. Man therefore needs more than the law and circumcision; He needs a Savior.
Both the conscience and the law hold every man accountable to God, “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (3:19).
Paul wraps up his discourse on the terrible plight of all men, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all have turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one” (3:10-12, emphasis added).
Thankfully, Paul doesn’t leave man drowning in his sin and without hope; he throws out a floatation device, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness from God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe . . . whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith” (3:21-22, 25, emphasis added). By faith in Christ, guilty sinners are made righteous. Scandalous!
Paul uses Abraham as an example of what this faith looks like. Abraham had the promise of God regarding a son, but he also had a barren wife, which made the fulfillment of this promise impossible; yet “he did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in the faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (4:20-21). For Abraham, to have a promise from God was also to have its fulfillment. Faith credited a son to the barren womb of Abraham’s wife.
No man but Christ can produce the righteousness that God requires. So, faith in Christ’s death for our sins and His resurrection for our justification credits righteousness to our barren lives.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Rom. 2:1-4:25):
What does Paul establish about those who sin before the law was given and who sin after the law was given? What does he establish about the Jewish people? About circumcision? About the purpose of the law?
Abraham and the promise given to him by God preceded the giving of circumcision and the law; yet, God declared him righteous. What was the basis of that declaration?
How does Abraham demonstrate faith-based righteousness?