My chapter today is Romans 3. In the midst of it, Paul quotes scripture saying “it is written” and then quotes the following…
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
When I see Paul quoting scripture, I search out to see WHAT scripture he was quoting to learn more about its context. What I found was new to me. I have read the Psalms before, but not usually just straight through. I normally read a couple here and a couple there. My research today showed me something interesting. This scripture that Paul is quoting, actually appears TWICE in Psalms. Psalm 14 and 53 are both this same text. In all three cases, the exact words had a couple variances but the context is the same. These differences are slight.
So this got me thinking. What is so important about this text that it is recorded TWICE in the Old Testament and then a THIRD time in the New Testament?
Since Paul quotes this in context of his letter to the Romans, he does include somewhat of a sermon before and after his quote. He is talking about being under the law. This text points out that ALL have turned away from God. This must have been a difficult message for the Jews to hear. They certainly didn’t consider themselves as having turned away from God. But Paul’s message is clear. By focusing all earthly judgement on following the letter of the law, they had turned away from the purpose behind the law.
The Jews of the day (as well as very many Christians today) would get bent out of shape about people who did or didn’t follow the letter of the law. One big emphasis in his text was circumcision. His point was… what’s the point of an outward display like circumcision if they heart was still turned away from God.
He really points out the amazing depth of God’s love here. If God ONLY showed love to those who followed the letter of the law, then his love would be conditional. The fact that God still loves ALL and shows His grace to everyone (even those who do not follow the law) is evidence of His unconditional love.
This is the most important point about His love. It is for EVERYONE.
See this most quoted piece of scripture (along with the two verses that follow)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
- It’s not that God love the Jews or the Gentiles or the Sinner… He loved the WORLD
- It’s not about who follows the Law, it’s about WHOEVER BELIEVES.
- He didn’t come to condemn those who failed under the Law, but to SAVE the world.
- We are not condemned for our failure to live under the Law, we are only condemned if we DO NOT BELIEVE.
When God finds something so important that it gets repeated in scripture, it’s probably worth listening to. Don’t only love those who are like you, and worship like you… Love the world, spread His word and pray that more believe.