In Chapter 3 of the book of Romans, Paul is continuing his letter to the Jews of Rome. Chapter 2 left off talking about how your religion is no good if you don't live a Godly life- and that a non-circumcised (or we could consider this non-religious, as this was reflected at the Jews) person who accepts God through faith and lives a Godly life is just as good or even better than someone who is a part of organized religion but doesn't live a Godly life.
So beginning in Chapter 3, Paul raises the rhetorical question to these Romans, that (and I'm paraphrasing a bit here) "what does it matter whose a Jew and who isn't then? Who has been trained in God's ways, and who hasn't?"
I'm going to point out here some of the issues of our time... first off we have too many Christian believers who take on the responsibility of "spreading" God's word when they aren't even accurately trained in it - I don't claim to be 100% trained in God's word, but I am working on it, as these posts are commentaries as I study the bible for context and accuracy. Those who use biblical scripture to back their condemnation of others is a prime example. These people are not properly versed in God's word - if they were, then they wouldn't be using Romans as a Clobber Passage, and would understand that it is intended to show them not to judge others. Most of them have just taken another man's word that this is what it says... and then when they go to read it for themselves, most of the time they are already won over to one biased side that they refuse to read with an open mind and heart in order to comprehend the true context and intent of the passages. And in addition, we are mostly reading from versions written in older English dialects that make it harder to understand, and a lot of people don't take the further time and study needed to fully grasp the meaning behind those hard to read words. (I'm just as guilty, and now that I've learned this I just want to share what I've discovered.)
So going back into Chapter 3... Paul continues his letter, talking about how God's truth always remains the same. "The whole world can be lying through their teeth, but God keeps his word." God is always faithful. His truth will always prevail even when people lie and twist the truth. More and more people are starting to see through all the dogma and twisted versions of the truth we see in organized religion today. More of us are starting to question when something just doesn't "sit right" within the teachings of the church, and are opening our minds more to accurately studying God's word. We've run into a huge problem when our religious leadership has become so corrupted (and not always intentionally) with twisted version's of God's truth and are so easily spreading these fallacies through doctrine. When we're listening to sermons about other people's problem with sin, negative remarks about different lifestyles and religious/non-religious people/ideas that don't conform to that church's belief system, and watch those same leaders leading lives full of intentional sin, we have a huge problem. None of us are perfect by any means, but leaders of our church's are supposed to be accurately trained in God's word and living Godly lives, per the scriptures.
And no one starts out living right, we are all born sinners...
"There's nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They've all taken the wrong turn;
they've all wandered down blind alleys.
No one's living right;
I can't find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves,
their tongues slick as mudslides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don't know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day."
And the bible goes on to make it clear that "whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place!" So as covered in my previous post on Romans 1-2, Romans 3 continues to support that these scriptures are not to be pointed at others, but are intended for his followers! How much "pointing of scripture" do we see going on in our society today? Look at our political issue debates. The Republican party has become the religious party. People are slinging God's word left and right to make their points by pointing fingers at the opposition. How many of us see someone else doing wrong, or even what we perceive as wrong from spoon-fed religion, and pulled out our bible to say "SHAME ON YOU???" (Raises her hand in shame, I have...)
I've been down this road... it's not a good road. It's a road of trying to justify nastiness and hate through condemnation and stone throwing - and we refuse to see it that way, but it is what it is, and the bible even tells us this. "And it's clear enough, isn't it, that we're sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God's revelation doesn't put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else's sin."
But God has set things right! Paul goes on to say how in their time, Jesus went to the Cross. And he closes this chapter with the fact that just because we now shift our focus from what we do, to what God does, this doesn't cancel out our careful keeping of the rules and what God commanded. "What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it."
***Disclaimer: This post is a recollection of my thoughts and reflections as I study and learn these passages for myself. There is no intent of "pointing fingers" or condemning sin. If you feel convicted from reading my post, then I recommend you study these passages further yourself for further confirmation, don't take my word for it - I'm just sharing what I've personally learned with hopes that someone will be inspired.
CONTINUE TO ROMANS 4