Yesterday, I preached from Romans 3:1-8 as we continued our series through Romans on Sunday mornings. As Paul turned from the Gentiles to focus on the Jews in chapter 2, he continued that aim in chapter 3 as well as he begins looking at the value of being a Jew. The overarching goal of the opening verses of chapter 3 is for Paul to demonstrate that God is both faithful and righteous and this is clearly seen in how he unfolds his blessings and curses.
Paul has labored to pull back the mask of the Jewish hypocrisy in chapter 2. He pointed out that the Jews were not beyond the judgment of God. In fact, this way of looking at God’s promised blessing and judgment provided a great problem for the Jew who considered himself to be part of the chosen nation. If a Jew can sin and become as if he were uncircumcised – as a Gentile – and receive the judgment of God, what advantage is there in being a Jew?
The Jews had been entrusted with the oracles of God. Oracles of God are literally the special revelation of God’s Word. This great responsibility was to serve as a light to the nations so that the Gentiles might hear and see and turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. As Paul made clear, they had failed in their calling. However, as Paul made clear, God would not fail in his promises. He would be faithful in upholding his promises — both in saving sinners and damning sinners.
Paul said, “Let God be true though every one were a liar.” In other words, although everyone is stained by sin and full of devilish lies, God is completely trustworthy. Leon Morris, in his commentary on Romans, writes:
The faithfulness of God is basic. Without that nothing makes sense. We must, of course, bear in mind that “faithfulness” means faithfulness in keeping his promises to judge the wicked, as well as those to bless those who love him. 
Paul then moves on to answer two rhetorical questions that he anticipated to follow his teaching. He asked the following:
- If our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us?
- 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?
The point is clear, if the backdrop of human depravity causes the glory of God to shine more brightly—why not just continue sinning that God would look glorious? Paul cut that idea off at the knees as he calls it a slanderous statement and then ends this section with a sobering statement, “There condemnation is just.” In other words, those who go to hell will receive the righteous justice of God and even as they are judged, the fulfillment of God’s justice will make God look glorious. In other words, God doesn’t need sin to make him look glorious because he owns hell and when he judges sinners, he looks glorious and wonderful because he keeps his promise.
We love to sing about Hallelujah. We find this word in our praise songs to God and we use it in our praise to God. It’s an interesting word – a transliteration from the Hebrew word – meaning: Praise be to God. Interestingly enough, the word is only used four times in the New Testament and all four times—in the book of Revelation 19:1-6. Why is this so important? Because the context of that passage. As we read in the book of Revelation, we find these words:
Revelation 19:1-5 — After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.”
Out of the four times we find hallelujah used in the New Testament, three of the usages is in the context of the judgment of God on sinners in hell. The final usage is found in the very next passage – in the context of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The question for you to answer today is, will you glorify God in your obedience and submission to his sovereign rule or will you glorify him as you are cast into hell?
- Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 155.