General Idea: Just as Paul rebuked the Galatian church for mixing up grace and law (Galatians 3:1-3), he goes after the Romans for the same. We are to shut our mouths and renounce our pride and arrogance so we are able to trust in our Lord. Being sinful we have no right to boast. Because Christ lived the perfect life on our behalf, by obeying His own law for us that we were not able or willing to do. He was both able and willing. Thus the Judge who is rightly and able to condemn us for our sins is now our Savior. Since we had nothing to do with our place in eternity, we have no reason to be prideful of anything, either by our accomplishments or our salvation. Just like we had no right to boast before our salvation because of our condemnation. Because we are saved, all that we are, and all that we have is from Christ alone, by His grace, by no real or true effort of our own. Christ covered us from the wrath of God that we truly deserved!
The world may see pride as a sign of respect and dignity, that our worth as human beings is supreme, that we deserve respect and even worship for ourselves. The world may take pleasure and satisfaction with pride as it represents achievements that we deserve. But the source of pride is ourselves; it elevates us as a god when there is only One True God! Pride is conceit; when we are filled with conceit we have a vastly exaggerated opinion of ourselves. We become the main show, filled with self-righteousness, this is disclosed through our imaginations about ourselves, and not from the reality of who we are; who and what we are made to be.
1. The Law is still upheld. (See Romans 3:21-26 notes)
a. We are still under sin's nature. Our salvation only covers us, from God's view we are white as snow. (Atonement means covering, not removal) But we still do not act white as snow! We should, but we do not.
b. We are capable of acting righteousness, and as we grow in faith we should also grow in our behavior, this is a part of sanctification.
c. The Law does not protect the Jew and thus will certainty not protect the Gentile either (Rom. 2:17; 23).
d. We cannot hide in our pride as we cannot hide in the church from God's wrath.
e. We cannot boast because of our condemnation. Once we are saved we still cannot boast because it was not by our effort.
f. Justification is by Faith apart from the Law. Justification is God's act of pardoning us. Thus we are accepted by God for what Christ has done on our behalf (II Cor. 5:21).
2. God's salvation is lawful.
a. He has the full right to condemn and judge humanity. Because we were created by Him and were capable of following His standards, yet we failed by our lack of effort and the culmination of sin.
b. Christ obeyed the Law in our place, the judge became the bail; have you heard God say to you "not guilty"?
c. Our salvation is totally unmerited and unconditional, for no good reason in us. Since our achievement did not earn squat, then why do we boast in our achievements (Gal. 3:11)? The surfer does not boast and brag about his deeds when he is saved from drowning by the life guard. All we did to gain our salvation is to believe the One who made it possible.
d. Salvation was not intended for the Jews exclusively in the O.T.(Gen 12:1-3; Amos 1-2), nor with the cross. This is a true yet startling statement to the Orthodox Jew, the Pharisee who only sees themselves as praiseworthy before God.
3. The Law was established to show our sins and the need for redemption in Christ.
a. Paul clearly rejects the Law as the path for salvation (I John 3:7).
b. We must be on guard against 'Antinomianism." This is the practice of straight out rejecting the Law. They believe the Law has no control over us. Scripture clearly teaches us that the Law is important and for us today under grace (Matt. 5:17; I Cor. 14:37; II Pet. 2; I John 1:8-2:1; 3: 4-10; Jude 4-19). We may not need to adhere to all 619 rules, what to eat and what not to, etc. But the Holy Spirit gives us the power to adhere to the Law, its character and concepts and without it there is no depravity and thus no holy God.
i. A modern view of Antinomianism is the rejection of discipleship. That since we have the Holy Spirit, we do not need to study the Word or lean on education. This view will cause disaster in the church as people will do as they see fit, as in Judges 2. There will be no truth and everything is relative. Wait, is this not how most of church society is now!
ii. Let us pray to be cleansed by the atoning death of our Savior, who bore our punishment and lived out the Law on our behalf.
c. Our independence is a slap in His face, and He can do nothing in us until it is removed (John 3:5)!
d. Legalism is to elevate our traditions and ideas onto the same level as God's Law. Thus it blinds us to the fact we have been freed by grace. Legalism also serves to be a power and control over others!
Beware not to have a trace of self-satisfaction left in you! We have to realize that just having knowledge puffs us up, but love and care from the knowledge we have in Christ put into action builds us and others up! We must ask ourselves if our deepest desires in life and pleasure of living are dedicated to please Christ. Can we take a hard look at our life and see how others see us, how God sees us? Are our actions in life the result of our will, our desires, our inspirations, and our motivations; or are they the result of us living a life of pleasing God? Is there a distinguished reality of the Lordship of Christ, verses the menagerie of living the lie of our desires! We must be set apart to be promoters of our Lord's Kingdom and Grace, to live that life of distinction, a life that honors Christ and motivates and encourages others.
1. When you receive junk mail that promises that you may already be a winner, why do you toss it out, if you do?
2. Why should we shut our mouths and renounce our pride and arrogance?
3. What gets in the way of trusting in our Lord in this passage?
4. Does this surprise you that you are still under sin's nature?
5. Why do most Christians assume we are washed clean from sin? But if we are washed clean why would we still sin? Is this just semantics, being washed verses being declared? (Being washed would mean being cleaned from; therefore no sin nature will remain. Being declared means God sees and judges us from the perspective that we are clean, because of Christ's work.)
6. Why do most Christians not act white as snow all of the time?
7. We are capable of acting righteous, and as we grow in faith we should also grow in our behavior, what gets in your way?
8. What have you learned about sanctification lately (our growth in the faith)?
9. The law does not protect the Jew and thus will certainty not protect the Gentile either. So why do people rely on their efforts and not in the truth of Christ?
10. We cannot hide in our pride as we cannot hide in the church from God's wrath. What have you hidden yourself in?
11. Why can we not be boasting?
12. When did you first hear about, justification is by faith apart from the law? How did this doctrine inspire you if it did?
13. What difference in your faith and walk with Christ does justification have on you?
14. What did you think of the U.S. presidential power to pardon whoever he desires? President Ford was not re-elected because he pardoned Nixon, and the American people were upset. Clinton pardoned a lot of unrepentive career criminals because they give $$ to his campaign and library just before he left office. How is this different or the same as God's pardon of us?
15. How has being accepted by God for what Christ has done on our behalf changed your life?
16. Read II Cor. 5:21, how does this passage relate to Rom. 3?
17. Why is God's salvation lawful?
18. Why does God have the full right to condemn and judge humanity?
19. Have you heard God say to you "not guilty"? How did it feel?
20. Can you image speeding in your car and the blue and red lights blaze behind you. Then when you are in court, the judge pronounces you guilty, but then comes down from the bench to pay your ticket, and then gives you a check for the increased insurance rates. How would you feel?
21. Would you ever do something similar to some one else, what about a stranger?
22. What do you think about the fact that your salvation is totally unmerited and unconditional, and given to you for no good reason?
23. Do you feel you need to have some kind of achievement to deserve it?
24. So since we did not earn squat, then why do we boast in our achievements (Gal. 3:11)?
25. A lot of people think that salvation in the OT was for the Jews only, but that is untrue. How do you feel about that? (Gen 12:1-3; Amos 1-2)
26. Do you know people who are like the Pharisee who only sees themselves as praiseworthy before God? If so, what can you say, and do to show them the Light?
27. Paul clearly rejects the law as the path for salvation. (I John 3:7) So why would some churches teach as it does? Can you think of examples?
28. While other churches may teach that the law has no control over us, why would they say that?
29. Since the law is still for us today and we do not need to adhere to all 619 rules, what can we do to learn from it?
30. Who gives us the power to adhere to the law?
31. Have you considered that without the law, its character and concepts there would be no depravity, no sin? But this would also mean no holy God. So, why is this?
32. Do you know or perhaps you are/ were a Christian who practiced 'Antinomianism' which is the rejection of discipleship. That since we have the Holy Spirit, we do not need to study the Word or learn in education. What would happen if you did this?
33. On your own read Judges 2 and ask yourself how did the people get that way after the exodus and entering the promised land, that after one generation they forgot God and did evil?
34. How could this view of Antinomianism' cause disaster in the church as people will do as they see fit, what would your church be like? What would the church teach?
35. One of the main problems in our society is that there is no truth and everything is relative. How did our society get this way?
36. How is our independence a slap in His face?
37. Why can't Christ do anything significant in us until pride is removed (John 3:5)?
38. How does Legalism distort the church and its representation in the community?
39. Why do we like to elevate our traditions and ideas onto the same level as God's Law?
40. What can you do today, this week, to be living a life that is cleansed by the atoning death of your Savior, who bore your punishment and lived out the law on your behalf?
For more information on pride and hypocrisy see the series of articles on Legalism on Church Leadership page under the Problem Solving channel)
"Sin": is to miss the mark that our Lord has for us. Sin is a violation against God and His people. It was a Greek archery term. The mark or target is God's righteousness, that because of sin we can never achieve/hit the target, there is no "Robin Hood" that can ever hit God's target. Thus all humans are sinners, we all have failed His law, either by direct transgression "commission", deliberately disobeying such as adultery. And failure to conform to His standard "omission", even if we are not aware of that aspect of law. As with the Police, ignorance is no excuse. Every time we sin we incur greater guilt and punishment. (Gen. 3:1-24; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 2:1-11; 3:10-26; 5:12-19; Titus 1:15; James 1:12-15; I John 1:8-10) Original Sin is explained in the fall, it was not the first sin, but the tem refers to the result of sin, that everything has become corrupted.
More thoughts on Legalism:
When you ask someone, would you like to be a Christian, what you are in fact saying is, would you like to be like me? So we must be careful in our daily actions, words, and deeds; about how we tell someone about the Lord. Don't ever believe that our performances are realities; people will see right through us. There are times when we have bad days, when we will make mistakes, after all we are human, and we cannot be perfect all the time. I do not believe our culture wants us to be perfect, but genuine. So when we make mistakes be up front about it, be willing to apologize, give in and go to the people you intentionally or unintentionally hurt and make up with them. Practicing forgiveness and acceptance are paramount, and go against the grain of our nature, but remember God calls us out of our nature to be transformed by Him.
True legalism is our love and devotion to earnestly seek out to love and serve the Lord. But legalism can be corrupted and distorted to be a series of rules and regulations, where salvation is based on merit. This form of legalism skews the true purpose and meaning of how we are saved out of our fallen nature. For there is nothing we can do or add to God's plan of salvation, to gain favor, it is only what God has accomplished through Jesus Christ that earns our salvation. The result of this salvation is what should be our gratitude and desire to model Christ with His character living out in our lives. Where Christians treat people with respect and kindness, not with the attitude of being arrogant and condescending to others. We are called to be humble and filled with compassion and love, where our deeds reflect the nature of our heart, a heart bought by our Lord who gave us His Grace. Grace is the ultimate, un-earnable gift.
The Pharisees saw legalism as a series of systematic rules to try to earn the approval of God based on their ancestry to Abraham. Every single law and rule was laid down in minute detail. All these rules and regulations kept the people spinning around like a dog chasing it's tail. The result of this chase is that the very laws the Pharisees created conflicted with what the law was all about, which was to be in a covenant with God (Hosea 13:6).
© 1998, 2004 Into Thy Word http://www.intothyword.org/(Condensed from "Walking by Faith: Impressions from the book of Romans," by Richard J. Krejcir ã 1998, 2000)