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No Excuse for Sin

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 3:3–8

It is never right to do wrong. This simple, biblical truth puts to rest all the justifications and excuses for sin. No one is exempt from God’s standards or from His judgment. Excuses will not take us to heaven; only the grace of God can do that.


Some time ago I read about the twenty-one-year-old son of a European ambassador to the United States. He was repeatedly in trouble with the law. On one occasion he struck and killed a woman with his car and was charged with vehicular homicide; but when he revealed who his father was, the charges were dropped. He was arrested four times in the space of two years, but each time, he claimed diplomatic immunity; and because his father was an ambassador, he got away with his offenses.

This is the kind of issue the apostle Paul is facing as he writes Romans chapter 3. The Jewish leaders were claiming diplomatic immunity from the charges of sin; simply because they were children of Abraham, they assumed they were immune to God’s judgment.[1]

But Paul delivers the shocking truth—it did not matter who their father was. No one is exempt from God’s judgment apart from Christ. Religious Jews were just as guilty as Gentile sinners.

Now, as Paul continues to explain this, primarily to his Jewish readers, he anticipates three more objections to the gospel, which he puts in the form of questions.

The first question is in Romans 3:3: “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?” In other words, if God judges the Jewish people, then He is not keeping His promise to them.

This is a great question. Did God erase His covenant promises to Israel because they were unfaithful to Him? Has He withdrawn the promise to restore the throne of David and the land of Israel to the Jewish people and set up His kingdom on earth, as He promised through His prophets? I mean, if Jewish sinners can be sent to hell along with Gentiles, it seems that God must have thrown away His promises to them.

Well, that is not the case at all. The unfaithfulness of Jewish people has not nullified God’s promise to the nation of Israel. There will be a future day when Israel will come to faith in Jesus Christ. Zechariah delivers God’s unchanging promise in his prophecy, where God says this:

“I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall . . . weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)

As the context there makes clear, their weeping will be over their own sins. They will repent and believe in Jesus. This has not happened yet. And, beloved, this promise does not refer to the church but to the house of David—the nation of Israel. The church has not replaced Israel. There is a coming millennial kingdom when Israel will be fully restored in the land of promise.

Now let me pull over here for a moment and clarify the difference between the national salvation of Israel in the future and the present salvation of individual Jewish people during this church age. At a future time, the Bible tells us God will restore Israel’s land, the throne of David, and a literal kingdom. But in the meantime, personal salvation for every Jew today is no different than salvation for every Gentile—it is always through faith in Jesus Christ, the one who was pierced at the cross.

God has temporarily set aside the restoration of Israel and the literal fulfillment of His covenant to David—you might have noticed there is no throne in Jerusalem with the Messiah seated upon it—that has been postponed. But God’s plans and promises to Israel have not been abandoned.

So, will God break His word to restore the nation? Paul gives the answer in verse 4: “By no means!” You could translate that, “No way! That’s impossible!” Some Bible versions translate it, “God forbid.” Paul is forcefully communicating, “That will never, ever happen.”

Paul writes further in verse 4:

Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

In other words, God cannot tell a lie. He will keep His word.

Paul then raises another objection from the Jewish people, again putting it in the form of a question—verse 5:

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)

The argument here is that if Jewish disobedience reveals the faithfulness of God—and that is a good thing—why would God turn around and judge them for their disobedience?

Paul answers in verse 6: “By no means! For then how could God judge the world?” Paul is saying, “Listen, if sinning Jewish people reveal the righteousness of God, and God gives them immunity—He allows them to avoid judgment—God would then have to let every sinner go free!” And that cannot happen because God is not a partial, unjust judge.  

Paul now raises the third argument with the question he asks in verse 7:

But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying.

Here is the argument: If sinning makes the glory of God more obvious, why not sin all you can? After all, if sinning gives God the opportunity to reveal His grace in forgiving us, then let’s give God every opportunity we can!

That would be like going home today after work, and when your wife asks you how your day went you say, “Well, it started off terribly because I lost my temper and killed my boss. But on the way home, I asked God for His forgiveness; and oh, the relief I felt knowing God forgave me just made it all worthwhile.”

Here is another illustration of that kind of twisted logic: You intentionally expose yourself to the flu so you can experience the headaches and fever. Why? Because you like the relief you feel from the medicine you are given.

Paul is clearly implying here that if you are intentionally sinning because you like the feeling of forgiveness, you are twisting the grace of God into permission to sin. And here at the end of verse 8, Paul simply says of those who think and act that way, “Their condemnation is just.” Those who would sin just because they think it gives God a chance to demonstrate His grace are heading for a terrible awakening to judgment one day.

These arguments Paul addresses here prove that we can all be very creative in justifying our sin, rather than admitting our guilt. Let’s make sure today that we are not doing that. Let’s not treat sin lightly.

Let’s not give in to some temptation and then brush it off with a quick prayer. Or, as one man told me as he was about to leave his wife for another woman, “I know I’m about to sin, but God will forgive me later.” That is a dangerous way to live, my friend. And it certainly discredits the gospel and the name of the Lord.

As people who have experienced the grace of God in our lives, how should we live? The apostle Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 2:9:

You are . . . a people for [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Peter did not say, “You are God’s people, so you can now go sin in any way you want.” No, he said, “Go demonstrate that God has called you out of darkness into the marvelous light of redemption.” Let’s do that today as we live for Him.

[1] David Jeremiah, Romans, Volume 1: God’s Righteousness and Man’s Rebellion (Turning Point, 2003), 100.

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