In this chapter we are brought face to face with our unrighteousness, our sin and our inability to commend ourselves to God on our own terms. Firstly, Paul very aptly tackles a couple of arguments he predicts, maybe ones that he has had to deal with on a regular basis when he has preached at the temple concerning the benefit of being Jewish and the righteousness of God in condemning the Jews. He confirms that there is every benefit in being Jewish, because they have been given divine revelation and promises which they are waiting to be fulfilled. Despite historic unfaithfulness, God will be faithful and keep his promises. He cannot go against his nature. I am currently reading the book ‘Redeeming Love’ by Francine Rivers which is loosely based on Hosea and his love of and marriage to a prostitute (Gomer) as an example of God’s patience and forgiveness towards the Israelites who were constantly unfaithful and guilty in front of God. The example here of God’s love for his people is deeply moving. Despite everything, including rejection of his son and crucifying him on the cross, the Israelites can rely on the faithfulness of God which is unaffected by man’s sinfulness.
However, Jew or Gentile in vs 9-18 it is clear, we have all sinned and fallen short of the standard God set. No man can win God’s approval by means of his own righteousness. Paul expounds clearly how very low as humans we can go. Paul is very clear in vs 13-18 about the depravity of man, the corruption of our hearts which contaminates our tongues and actions. In the book Redeeming Love, the prostitute, Angel, dreams and sees herself covered in open sores, an outward expression of her inward sin. What if our sin was exposed as sores on our body? The fact is, we would all be covered…there wouldn’t be one person who didn’t have sores on their body. Paul isn’t implying in these verses that Man does no good, or has never been kind to others, he is saying that man has nothing and can do nothing to commend himself/herself to God. Although I have been a Christian since I was a child it has taken me some time to understand the depravity of my soul. I mistakenly thought I was a good person and I really hadn’t done enough to deserve hell, but God has gently and kindly revealed just what a sinner I am and that nothing I do will ever be enough! Paul shows that the Law was never given to save man, but to show man that he needed a Saviour and it is for this reason God both rejects our sin BUT also sends his son to redeem us, to die on our behalf, so that we can be presented to God free from sin. What man cannot do, (provide a righteousness acceptable to God), the good news is, God has done in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. The gift of righteousness that is undeserved. Praise Jesus!