For All Have Sinned (h) Let God Be True
When the Apostle Paul evangelised he reasoned with his congregations. With the very fine mind given him by God he was able to produce excellent arguments as he stated the case for Christ. He had the ability to debate and respond to alternative points of view. He was a man who could pre-empt the questions and arguments of others and could produce orderly responses in so doing; Acts 17:2, 18:4, 18:19, 24:25. Without a doubt Paul was the greatest advocate for Christianity who ever lived. In this brief passage we gain an insight into Paul’s manner as he reasoned and debated with those who opposed his message. As he brings this section dealing with the sins of the Jews to a conclusion, he is anticipating their questions and criticism, as one who was a devout Pharisee himself. In v3-4 he considers the argument that God becomes unfaithful to his people because some have sinned and are therefore lost. In v5-8 he highlights the case of those who claim that because man’s sin causes the righteousness of God to be exalted, God becomes unrighteous in punishing sin. At the heart of this passage which deals with complex and perplexing issues, however, is this wonderful comment upon God’s nature when set over against man’s corruption, “Let God be true, but every man a liar.”
1: The Faithfulness of God v3-4
While Israel are God’s ancient people espoused to him in solemn covenant, he in no way becomes unfaithful when some members of this nation refuse to believe. The emphasis here is upon “some”. Not every member of the Jewish race is lost. There remains a remnant even in the days when the Gospel is preeminent among the Gentiles. God’s promises toward the Jewish people will be maintained despite the unbelief of some. Furthermore, Paul argues here that God is always justified. Although his ways are difficult to understand we must not accuse him of injustice because he is a sovereign with a right to do and allow as he chooses, we are not called to question him. This teaches us that God will always honour his promises in his way and that we are to accept his ways with a simple faith in his sovereignty and providence.
2: The Deceitfulness of Man v5-8
It is true, that as a consequence of man’s sin the righteousness of God is commended or set forth. This simply means that because sin came into the world we observe God’s holiness, his justice and also his mercy in a way that would be impossible without sin. Above all in the cross of Christ we observe something of God that would never have been manifest without the sin of Adam and the depravity of the world. Men then argued that this made God unjust in judging a world that he allowed to sin for a purpose to begin with. Paul, however, slammed such foolish talk with the phrase, “God forbid”, because God can only judge men as a righteous being. He is our creator and we will ever be accountable to him for our actions . Some would even dare to claim that because God allowed sin to glorify his own nature then men can sin so that good may arise, the end justifies the means. God described such reasoning as slander which is another way of expressing blasphemy. This highlights the deceitfulness of man’s heart in grasping for aspects of God’s nature and Bible teaching to justify and condone his own sinful practices. In all of this God stands aloof as a consistently true being and man is described as a dishonest depraved wretch. When challenged by people who attack God it is sometimes better to use the phrase “God forbid”, as Paul did, rather than attempt to use arguments and reasoning to overcome the objectors. Our faith in grounded in the Biblical revelation of God, let us not be shaken from this.