Romans 3.27-31 – The ultimate measuring stick

When I was younger and there was any practical work to be done around the house or garden my Dad would bring out his spirit level, that metal stick with the little bubble in it, to see if what was being done was straight and true. When the work was finished, we would line up the level to see how good the work really was. Until then, we could have claimed to have built the Eiffel Tower in all its glory, but until we measured up, we would never know if what we were boasting in was good or not.

In this short paragraph today Paul tells us about the ultimate measuring stick, the ultimate spirit level to check ourselves against,

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

The boasting is that of the Jew, that of God’s chosen people, that of one who thinks they are pretty set and pretty straight in terms of righteousness. Compared with living a sinless and spotless life, compared to giving our life as a ransom for many, compared to willingly sacrificing our lives to save the entire cosmos, do we have much to boast in? If Jesus is the measuring stick, then our achievements seem to pale into insignificance in a works-based way of thinking, don’t they…

Woop woop, I didn’t shout at my kids for two hours yesterday…

woop woop, I didn’t beep my horn and flash my lights when I was cut up on the road…

woop woop I read my Bible today…

woop wo- you get the picture…

Why is our boasting pointless and excluded? By the law of faith. Compared to the salvation we receive, compared to the justification we receive before God through faith in Jesus, compared to this, our own boasting is excluded. As we read, God justifies the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised by faith, too, not through anything we do.

Paul tells us that God is the God of the Jews and the Gentiles, basically, the God of everyone. God’s law for His people of old always looked forward to the good news of justification by faith alone, apart from deeds, as we will see tomorrow. That’s why Paul can write that the faith we have upholds the law, as we are living the life that God always wanted for His people, a life of faith, and we are living the life now that was always promised and designed from old. 

Part of that is not boasting in anything other than what Jesus has done, what Jesus has done for you, and what Jesus will do for us all in the coming time. 

Point to ponder – Am I boasting in my own efforts of righteousness?

Prayer – Father, forgive me for those times when I may have boasted, maybe even without knowing, about my own earthly efforts of righteousness. I know you are a merciful God, I know you are a God who forgives, and I know you love me. Help me to only boast in the cross of Christ and nothing else. Amen.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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