Romans 3:4


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:
“That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.” Romans 3:4

This verse is in response to 3:3 – “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?” The answer rings forth clearly – “Certainly not!” Others translate this as “God forbid,” “Of course not,” “Not at all,” “May it never be,” “Absolutely not,” “That would be unthinkable,” “By no means,” “No indeed,” etc. It is an expression that translators seem to enjoy trying finding a new and exciting yet clear and acceptable translation just to be unique. The term in Greek is me genoito. Albert Barnes says it is telling us to “let not this by any means be supposed.”

Instead of us supposing that God’s faithfulness is tied to man’s actions, we are to hold fast to the conviction that He is a perfect and unchanging Being and therefore that which is found in Him is absolute truth. As this is so, all that is true stems from Him and there is nothing untrue which can be attributed to Him. Because of this, even if every Israelite was unfaithful, it would have absolutely no bearing on whether He was faithful or not. In a judicial proceeding, His innocence would stand while the all others would receive a guilty verdict.

To substantiate this, Paul returns to Scripture – the law itself – and states, “As it is written.” The Greek is gegraptai and it carries the weight of saying “this was written then and it still stands today.” God’s word is fixed, firm, and unchanging. What it states stands forever. What Paul cites is from the 51st Psalm –

For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Psalm 51:3, 4

This amazingly emotional Psalm was written by David after he was confronted by God’s prophet Nathan. David had committed adultery with a married woman and subsequently murdered her husband. He acknowledged that his faithlessness in no way compromised God’s righteousness. And this is true even though he was not only an Israelite, but God’s anointed King of Israel. The sin that David committed was against God and only God. Because of this, God is found both just and blameless in the presence of David’s unrighteousness. If this is so with David, Israel’s King, then it must be so with all people.

Returning to Albert Barnes, He sums up what we should learn from this – “How happy would it be, if all people would regard this as a fixed principle, a matter not to be questioned in their hearts, or debated about, that God is true to his word! How much doubt and anxiety would it save professing Christians; and how much error would it save among sinners! Amidst all the agitations of the world, all conflicts, debates, and trials, it would be a fixed position where every man might find rest, and which would do more than all other things to allay the tempests and smooth the agitated waves of human life.”

Life application: God is absolute truth and therefore, when He judges it is done in a morally perfect way. When tragedy comes our way, we have absolutely no right to place the blame on God. Let us be careful to never question His goodness, truth, or wisdom in how He conducts the affairs of the world, but let us rest in the fact that He will bring all things again to a state of goodness and perfection for those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Lord God, it is in my nature to question why bad things occur and the wisdom of the judgments I see around me – earthquakes, famines, plagues, and the like. But in the end, these are not the result of vindictiveness. Rather, they occur because You are just and right in Your judgments. Help me always to remember this and to trust that You have it all under control. Amen.

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