So, it is special to be Jewish. What God did for His treasured possession the Jews was a foreshadow of what He did for all people. In our devotional today we will read Romans chapter three. This is what Paul wrote about it in verses 1-4,
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,
“That you may be justified in your words,
and prevail when you are judged.”
God spoke to the Jewish people. He gave them His Law. He brought forth all the promises of His covenants through the Jewish people. He brought salvation to the nations through the Jews. The special relationship they had with God should have been enough to prevail over their sinfulness and lead them to faith in God, but for most, it did not. Their unfaithfulness, rebellion, and stubbornness only allowed God to prove His faithfulness, steadfastness, patience, and love. Do you think God was surprised that His people were so hard-headed and hard-hearted? Of course not! He knew, but He never wavered. He never left them.
But does that mean that God didn’t mind their sin or mind ours? Do you think He said, “Your sin is fine because I get to show you my grace and mercy when you sin?” No! Verses 5-8 read,
But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
That seems to be the attitude of many people, Jewish, Christian, and others. God is good, He forgives, so I may as well live a life of sin and label it a life of freedom and let God show His mercy to me on my deathbed. That is what I call I-theism. That is when we make ourselves god and lift up sin, pride, and selfishness and call it personal freedom.
If God were okay with letting us live that way, could we really call that love? There would be no justice, no punishment for wickedness and Salvation would be worthless. Lives like that declare Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection futile. To say we follow the One True God and yet decide He doesn’t mind our sin is to worship a god of our own creation, an idol. When you say, “My god would never send someone to Hell” or “My god doesn’t mind the path I take to goodness as long as I try and do good” you are creating your own god with traits that do not mesh with the LORD, God Almighty. The Jews did it a thousand years ago and many of us still do it today. God had something to say about the way His people behaved then and it still goes today for those who think that God will grant them some special grace just because they look or act right on the outside or just because they are Jewish, Muslim, or call themselves Christian. In verses 9-18 Paul quotes several verses from the Psalms and Isaiah to describe God’s attitude toward their persistent sinfulness.
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Are you guilty of those crimes? Be honest, this is between you and the Lord. Do you really seek God, to know and understand Him? Or are you casual in your pursuit, promising God every Sunday that from now on you will do better? Do you use your words for edification or destruction? How’s your temper? Are you slow to anger or fast to revenge? Do you truly respect God?
The law has its purpose. But maybe it isn’t what you imagine it to be. Verses 19-20 reads,
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The law cannot justify anyone. The law shows us our guilt and shows us that we cannot save ourselves. It takes us away from I-theistic ideas and to Jesus. It is impossible to keep the law. The law cannot give us righteousness. Verses 21-26 read,
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it--22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
There are some long words and difficult sentences in this passage. What it says is this, Jesus is the fulfillment, the perfect demonstration of the Law. The Law and the prophets all pointed to Jesus as the Christ, our Savior. The law can’t save because we can’t keep the law perfectly, we all fall short, the only way to salvation is through faith in Christ. God gives us that salvation as a gift because Jesus paid the price. That is what propitiation means, it means, Jesus appeased God, He gave the Father what was required for our sins. He is the only one who could because He is fully God and was born fully human, lived perfectly, took our sins in His death and resurrected for our eternal life. God did all this for us, even while we were still sinners so that His goodness and love would be known and we would all come to faith.
So, what do you think now? Are you special? Are you good enough? Can you save yourself by all the good things you do? Can you keep on living for yourself and expect God to be okay with it?
It is not us but Jesus who saves. It is not us who chooses God but The Father who chooses us. It isn’t us who makes ourselves good, but the Holy Spirit who transforms us to be like Jesus.
Verses 27-31 read,
Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one 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 God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Yes, I am still proud of my Jewish heritage but I know that it is not being Jewish that saves me, nor is it calling myself a Christian, writing devotionals, or praying for people on the streets which saves me. It is faith in knowing Jesus is who He says is, the Son of God who died on the cross, resurrected from the grave, ascended to Heaven, and will come back again.