Monday, 25 February 2013
But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) Romans 3:5
Today’s verse is going to take several more verses to fully comprehend. Paul says, “But if our unrighteousness…” This is the sin of man in general, and more to the point the Jew who he has been speaking about in detail. The Jew has been given the law and yet they have been unrighteous before the law in many ways. They have neglected it; they have used it as a point of pride when comparing themselves to other “sinners;” they have willfully disobeyed it; and they have missed its spiritual meaning and application because they rejected Jesus who is the fulfillment of it.
This “unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God” though. The law is his standard and it shows His very nature. In other words, this isn’t just speaking of His righteousness toward man, but His innate righteousness. The first is the result of the latter, not the other way around. The sins we commit are a violation of His moral purity and they therefore demonstrate His perfect righteousness – He is the ultimate standard by which things are judged and His glory is seen more clearly when the sinner is compared to Him.
Imagine the purest diamond in the world. If there was nothing to compare the diamond to, then one wouldn’t know how exquisite it truly was. However, when other stones of varying materials, quality, luster, etc. are placed next to it, the true majesty of this “stone of stones” is seen for what it is. The law which reflects God’s righteousness is like the diamond and our transgression of the law is like the flawed stones.
So Paul now asks, because the greatness and majesty of God are seen more clearly because of our imperfections, then isn’t “God unjust who inflicts wrath?” How can God judge us when He is shown more glorious through our sin. Doesn’t our sin have a good purpose and doesn’t our sin negate His right to judge us?
This is the question of the impenitent sinner. This is the question of the unreasoning animal. This is the question of the one who fails to contemplate the splendor of the Creator. Such a question reveals a lack of dignity for self and a lack of respect for God. As Paul says, “I speak as a man.” His words are intended to reflect fallen Adam; the unspiritual, carnal man.
Life application: How do you perceive sin? If you believe that your sin, which demonstrates the righteousness of God, is excusable because God is shown holy through it then you have failed to take in the whole picture. Take a look today at the things you don’t like in others, things that upset you. Then consider that you are comparing these things against… you. Now imagine your sin placed next to the Creator who is infinitely more pure than you. How should He respond?
Lord, though you are shown holy through my sin, may I never assume that my sin is somehow excusable because of it. Instead, let me see it for what it is, a violation of an ultimate standard and which therefore necessitates an ultimate punishment. I realize how great Your mercy is toward me when I think it through! Thank You for Jesus who took what I deserve. Amen.