In the first two chapters of Romans, Paul has shown us that it does not matter if you are a Jew or Gentile; you are without excuse for your sin and rejection of God. In the first part of chapter three, he explains that there is still a benefit to being a Jew. The benefit is not that you receive automatic salvation from sin. The benefit is that they “were entrusted with the spoken words of God” (vs. 2). They had the benefit of knowing God through the law and prophets (21). This means that if they properly understood the Torah then they would know salvation through Jesus much easier than a Gentile. Paul also raises the question of what if some do not believe.
“What then? If some did not believe, will their unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness? Absolutely not! God must be true, even if everyone is a liar, as it is written: That You may be justified in Your words and triumph when You judge.”
Romans 3:3-4 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.3.3-4.hcsb )
What Paul is saying here is that God’s faithfulness doesn’t depend upon the belief of others. We can even take this a step further and say that God’s existence doesn’t depend upon our belief. Even if the entire world chased after false gods or believed that there is no God; God would still be the great “I AM,” and be faithful all the same. Paul goes on to say that nobody seeks after God.
“as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.”
Romans 3:10-11 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.3.10-11.hcsb )
Paul is talking about the state of the unbelievers, of which we all started as. When we were dead in our sins we did not seek after God and the only reason that we could respond to the love of God is because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Without God calling us to Himself we would never be able to respond and we would still be dead in our sins.
The Jews believed that they could be justified by keeping the law. The problem is that no one can keep the law. We can't keep the law perfectly, and perfection is what is required under the law. Paul tells us the benefit of the law in verse 20, saying;
“For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.” Romans 3:20 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.3.20.hcsb )
There are still some people who believe that their good behavior will win them favor in the eyes of God. They put on their mask and try to convince everyone that they a doing good things when inwardly they are spiritually struggling and sometimes even spiritually dead. (Read more about this here) Paul says to stop trying to justify yourself by keeping the law; it’s pointless. The works of the law can not save us because the purpose of the law is to make us aware of sin and our need for a Savior.
“But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed — attested by the Law and the Prophets — that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:21-23 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.3.21-23.hcsb )
Paul has made it very clear from the beginning of Romans that we have no excuse and the reason is that we have all sinned. No human that has been born or will be born, can live without sinning. It is in our DNA to do what is evil in the eyes of God. Every ounce of our natural being is in opposition to God. Through grace, God has chosen to reveal His righteousness apart of the law through Jesus Christ so that all who have faith in Jesus will escape the righteous wrath of God.
It is in our DNA to do what is evil in the eyes of God. Every ounce of our natural being is in opposition to God.
These first three chapters of Romans are very challenging to our egos. Most people want to do things their way. They don’t like to be told that they are sinners and want to set their moral standards. This is why the gospel of Jesus and the word of God are so offensive to the world. They hate God’s standards because they can’t live up to it, none of us can. What is sad is that God has done everything necessary for all of us to overcome sin. The world's rejection of Jesus stems from human pride and self-righteousness.
You are guilty, but there is hope in Jesus. Turn to Him for salvation and be restored to a right relationship with God. If you already have, then praise God for His grace and provision of salvation through faith in Jesus.