God’s Treasure Chest – Romans 3

Here is some of the treasure that stood out to me while reading and studying Romans chapter 3. I hope this brings you encouragement!

Romans 3:19 says, 
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. (NLT) 

Once again, Andrew Wommack’s Living Commentary notes have helped me understand this verse so much better and I believe his notes will help you as well. All of this you are about to read are his notes from just one verse! 

“Paul had conclusively proven that both Jews and Gentiles were sinners (Romans 3:9) and therefore incapable of saving themselves through their own works of righteousness. They both needed a savior. Here Paul began to reveal that the means of that salvation is through faith in Jesus the Messiah and not through people’s moral goodness

This very clear statement by Paul comes as a complete shock to most Christians. Christianity as a whole has embraced the Old Testament Law, and most Christians have never thought that the Law was not intended for them. However, Paul was saying that the Law was given to the Jews. The purpose of that Law was to produce guilt; therefore, those who deny their guilt before God can profit from its condemning effect (2 Corinthians 3:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9). But Christians who embrace the Old Testament Law (not everything that is in the Old Testament is Law) as God’s gift to them have misunderstood its purpose.

That is not to say that we as Christians should reject the Old Testament as God’s holy Word€“God forbid. It certainly is God’s Word and is, therefore, profitable for doctrine, reproof, etc. (2 Timothy 3:16). However, it needs to be interpreted in light of the New Covenant. Jesus didn’t only set us free from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13); He also set us free from the Law itself (Romans 4:16, 6:14-15, 7:4-6, 8:2; 2 Corinthians 3:7; Galatians 2:19, 3:24-25, 4:21, 5:18; Ephesians 2:14-15; Colossians 2:14; 1 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 7:18-19, 8:7-13, and 10:8-9). A desire to live under the commands of the Old Testament Law is a return to bondage and a misunderstanding of our New Covenant in Jesus. 

Here Paul began to make a series of radical statements. They were radical because the Jews of his day, just like many church people of our day, thought that the Law of God was given so that they could earn their salvation through keeping it. That wasn’t its purpose. The Law was not given for the purpose of producing justification (Romans 3:20, 28, 4:13; Galatians 2:16, 3:11, 5:4; and Titus 3:5).

The Law was given to kill (2 Corinthians 3:7) and condemn (2 Corinthians 3:9). The Law strengthened sin (1 Corinthians 15:56) and made sin come alive (Romans 7:9). The Law gave sin an occasion against us to deceive us and work all manner of lust in us (Romans 7:8 and 11). In short, the Law strengthened our enemy, sin, not us.

Why would God give us something that strengthened our enemy? It’s because sin had already beaten us, and we didn’t know it. Mankind was deceived into thinking that although we weren’t perfect, surely our sins weren’t that bad. We really were pretty good people, and the outcome would be okay.€ The only thing wrong with that thinking is that God doesn’t grade on a curve. It doesn’t matter if we are better than someone else. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and the wages for sin (any sin) is death (Romans 6:23).

James 2:10 says, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.€ If we commit any sin, we are guilty of them all. It’s similar to breaking a window. It doesn’t matter how big a hole is made in the window. If it’s broken, the whole window has to be replaced. If we break even the slightest command, we are guilty of breaking them all.

So God had to break the deception that people had fallen into, of thinking they were surely good enough to be accepted by God. The way He did this was to give the Law. It made sin and its lust come alive in people. To those who would receive it, it became obvious that if this holy perfection of the Law was what God demanded, people could not be saved by their own goodness.

That was the point that God wanted to make, and that was the point that Paul was making here. No one can be saved by keeping the Law, because all have sinned and come short of the Law’s perfection (Romans 3:23).

Therefore, the Law stripped people of every excuse and made them guilty before God. The Law gave them knowledge of just how sinful they were and removed any deception of them ever being saved because they were such nice guys in comparison to others. As Paul said in Galatians 3:23, But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.€ The Law took away every hope of salvation except faith in a savior. That was the purpose of the Law.”

Romans 3:20 says,
For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. (NLT)

Here’s a quote from my book, I Tried Until I Almost Died.

“I was in utter shock when I realized that God didn’t give the law with the intention that we would keep it perfectly but rather to prove to us that we couldn’t. That was some of the best news this perfectionist ever heard. I could breathe. I could breathe!”

Christ Took Our Punishment

Romans 3:21-25a says,
21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding his blood. (NLT) 

Here’s another quote from my book:

“That moment when I really understood that my righteousness is a gift because of Jesus’ finished work and not at all based on my own works, I nearly fainted. Major relief.”

After seeing what God did for us in being willing to sacrifice His only Son and what Jesus did in being willing to come and rescue us from the penalty for our sins, how could this do anything but cause us to love Him more and more.

But you see, I had it backwards for so many years. Instead of being consumed with God’s love for me and God’s grace toward me in sending Jesus to pay the penalty I owed, I lived as if I still owed something. I spent the majority of my existence trying, trying, trying to pay for what Jesus already paid for. 

I felt as if I was constantly failing God. I rarely ever received His love for me. In fact, I recall having rare moments during those years where I felt God’s love wash over me in a very strong way and it would always come as a shock to me because in my mind I never performed good enough to receive the kind of love I was feeling. Each time this happened It was so wonderful, but I only experienced this on rare occasions over a 34 year span. The problem definitely wasn’t on God’s end. God is love and He was always extending His love to me, but I was so wrapped up in myself that I didn’t know how to receive it.

I’m thrilled to say that now I feel God’s love for me in a profound way every single day. You can too. But to do this your main focus has to be spent meditating on what Jesus did for you instead of focusing on what you need to do for Him. Don’t worry though, when you live consumed with Jesus you always end up doing more good than you ever could have or would have with your focus on yourself.

Good works are a natural result of you having a living, vibrant relationship with Him! And when you live your life from this perspective you won’t even want to take the credit for the good things God, in His grace, allows you to do because your whole life becomes all about glorifying God and pointing people to Jesus.

Romans 3:27-28 says, 
27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. ((NLT)  

When you try to be righteous through obeying the law this puts the focus on your performance, but when you simply accept God’s gift of righteousness as just exactly what it is, a gift, this puts the focus on Jesus and His finished work.

I personally struggled for many years with pride and wanting attention and credit. I remember trying to fight so hard against that feeling of pride, but I was never freed from pride’s gripping bondage until God showed me how to shift my focus. 

In my book I say this; 

“It took many, many years, but eventually I came to the place that Paul did in verse 24 (of Romans 7). I came to the end of my rope. And that’s where God showed me how to shift my focus from my flaws to His forgiveness.”

Here’s a very fresh example. Yesterday morning I started being tempted to feel jealous of someone. It came as a surprise to me because Jealousy is something I have not really struggled with in my Christian walk. There have been plenty of other struggles, believe me, but jealousy has not been one of them. I love to see people get blessed and can honestly say I am genuinely happy for others when they are blessed. But yesterday this temptation to be jealous came out of no where and I knew when it did I had two choices. I could either fight the temptation the way I used to try to fight every other temptation or I could run to God for help. 

I chose option #2. I literally (in my mind) turned my back on the temptation to be jealous instead of standing there and fighting against it – trying to not feel jealous. I then took the situation to God and  began to talk to Him. I was honest and told Him what I was feeling. My prayer went something like this:

Dear God, I am tempted to be jealous of this certain person, but I know that the person I am in Christ is not someone who goes around being jealous of people. I thank You for helping me with this. I know I don’t need to fight it, but instead I can simply let You live Your life through me which is great because You don’t have a problem with jealousy! I’m so thankful You still love me even though I am being tempted. I purposely remember right now that my righteousness is solely based on Jesus’ finished work on the cross, not my performance; therefore, I remain in peace right now. I know that being jealous comes from me comparing myself with someone else, but I don’t need to do that because I’m everything I need to be in Christ. Thank you God that the totality of my  worth and value come from my relationship with you – from the truth that I am Your child!

That was the end of it. I have not had that temptation since I prayed yesterday, but if it does rear it’s ugly head again, I will run straight back to God.

This was yet another life example where I could clearly see how me choosing to continue in God’s grace brought me freedom. First, I ran to the God of all Grace for help. Then I made the choice to receive His grace (His unmerited favor) toward me right in the middle of being tempted to sin. 

Had I chose option #1 – trying to free myself through self-effort – I would have been right back where I was all those years before I discovered grace. The result: I nearly lived in a perpetual state of anxiety and frustration. Here’s how it went back then:

A temptation to be jealous would come. I would immediately go into panic mode, trying not to feel jealous. That never worked because I was relying on myself to free myself instead of relying on God. I would then actually start breathing more rapidly than usual because I would start envisioning God being really mad at me. I would envision Him with a stern look on His face (which was false, but to me it was very real at the time). The thought of God being mad at me and disappointed in me would cause me to be even more fearful and launch forward in some sort of self-effort, trying even harder to free myself. Again, it never worked since I was relying on my own strength. Then I would start feeling like a failure which caused me even more anxiety and frustration. Believe it or not, I would then try even harder to get my act together…until I finally collapsed under a mountain of guilt and condemnation. 

Do you see how this was all about Sandra and not at all about Jesus. My focus was totally on my own ability to solve my dilemma.

Wow, writing this out made me re-live (in my mind) what I put myself through for the first 34 years as a Christian. Being reminded of what I did to myself for so long, I am really not sure how in the world I even made it that many years without totally losing my mind or dying from the stress I was under. Now you know why my book is titled I Tried Until I Almost Died and why I am consumed with spending my time focusing your eyes on Jesus instead of yourself.

My friend, Jesus is your only road to freedom!

Thankfully my book is also subtitled From Anxiety & Frustration to Rest & Relaxation because rest and relaxation is my new normal and it will become your new normal too, as you allow God to shift your focus!

Romans 3:31 says,
Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.  (NLT)  

This is as true as true can be. Always remember that grace will take you light years beyond any place that a list of rules could ever take you. The reason this is true is because rules work on changing us from the outside. They produce behavior modification only; whereas, grace changes us from the inside out – it changes our heart and produces heart transformation. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and ONLY through the power of the Holy Spirit can this be accomplished. He is called the Spirit of Grace!

Next God’s Treasure Chest post will be on Romans 4.

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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