Monday, November 8, 2021

Proving Paul is a True Apostle [Part 2]

In Part 1, we examined a significant portion of the book of Romans to prove that Paul is a true apostle of Jesus the Messiah.  I planned on going through more of the book (if not finishing it) in part 2, but I realized I missed something in part one.  So we're going to start this off by addressing what we missed in the last post.

Here is the relevant passage.  Romans 3:9-20.

9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. [NIV]

The charge here is that Paul is taking Scripture out of context and twisting it to say what he wants it to say.  They contend that Psalm 14:1 (which Paul quotes in Romans 3:10-12) says that there's nobody among fools that does good.  However, Paul is not quoting just one verse here, but multiple verses.  The next two (Psalm 14:2-3) makes it clear that there is nobody among all mankind that does good.  We see the same pattern in Psalm 53.  And Ecclesiastes 7:20 (one of the many verses Paul quotes in this passage) also makes it clear that nobody is righteous.  And the definition of righteous that is used in that verse requires the person to never sin once.  Ironically, it's those making the charge against Paul who are taking Scripture out of context.

There may be other places I've missed or will miss, but we'll address those when I realize I've missed them or when they're pointed out to me.  In the mean time, let's continue where we left off from part 1:  Romans 8.  Here, we are introduced to two new laws:  The "law of the Spirit" and the "law of sin and death".  In addition to that, we have the law of God, which is referred simply as "the Law".  So we see that there are at least three laws at play here.  In verse 7, Paul states that he is referring to God's Law when he says, "The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so."  What does that tell you about those who say "God's Law is a burden" or "God's Law is too difficult"?

So, let's go back to Romans 6 and 7, and see if chapter 8 can help us understand these passages which imply that God's Law is the problem or that we've been set from from it.  Paul states that we have died to sin (6:2) and have been set free from sin (6:7).  He also said that sin shall no longer be our master because we are not under the law, but under grace (6:14).  So if being set free from sin means we are no longer "under the law", then which law is Paul referring to?  Wouldn't it be the law of sin and death mentioned in Romans 8:2?  Also, if the answer is no, then does Paul define what it means to be "under the Law" when "the Law" refers to God's Law?  Perhaps.  In Galatians 3:10, Paul quotes God's Law when he says that those who rely on the works of the Law are under a curse.  Why are they under a curse?  Because the Law says, "Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out." [Deuteronomy 27:26; NIV]  So, if being "under the Law" is referring to God's Law, then it means being under the curse of the Law because you have broken the Law.  Again, it is not those who keep the Law who are cursed, but those who break the Law who are cursed.

Continuing on, Paul says we used to be slaves to sin (6:17), but have since been set free from sin and are now slaves to righteousness (6:18).  And that we should now offer ourselves as slaves to righteousness just as we used to offer ourselves as slaves to ever-increasing wickedness (6:19).  And we have been set free from sin, and are now slaves to God (6:22).  In Romans 7:1-3, Paul uses the marriage Law as an analogy to what has happened to us, then says we have died to the Law (7:4), have died to that which once bound us (7:5) and have been released from the law (7:6).  Which Law have we been released from?  The law of sin an death!  The marriage law represents the law of sin and death that we were bound to before we came to repentance and faith in Jesus.  By the way, in Romans 7:23, Paul specifies that it is the law of sin working against the Law of God.  And the next two verses, states that it was through Jesus the Messiah that he was delivered from the law of sin.  So we were introduced to the law of sin here.  And it is this law that we are no longer under.

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