Read Romans 3: 1-8
If you remember reading from last week, I said that Paul is having acting like conversation with a factious person. This person is the typical Jew of his time. A Jew who knows the law, was circumcised on the 8th day, and knows the law of God, which he has been taught since childhood. Therefore in this conversation Paul is debating this man, while the man gives the typical objections to Paul’s statements. It is sort of like a presidential debate in which Paul is the moderator and one candidate and the Jew is the other candidate.
Now this debate started at the end of chapter 2 and continues into chapter 3. In this section of the debate the Jewish person asks Paul “Is there any advantage to being a Jew?” He asks this question for Paul has spent the last 13 verses sounding like he does not like the Jews. (Which is weird for he is Jewish himself).
Paul answers like this that “Yes! There is an advantage to being a Jew”. He goes on to say that the Jews have had the law since God gave it physically to them. They were not like the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) who only knew that the law existed. They had the law, they had been taught about who God was since birth, they had heard Scripture read to them, they had Scripture taught to them. They grew up in a community that God said was His people. They had every advantage, but they did not take advantage of it. Most Jews were cultural Jews, they did not take the Word of God seriously, and they did not understand the laws which God had given them. They had every advantage and most of them were arrogant about their status and their privilege of having the law given to them.
Does this hit close to home? It should if you were born into a family who worships God; you were/are a covenant child. Like the Jews you have every advantage, you are in church a lot, you were baptized as a child and became part of the covenant community, you hear your Pastor preaching every week from the pulpit, you may here it in your small group. You may read the Bible at home in your families or by yourself. You know God’s Word, yet even though you know about sin, its penalty (eternal punishment in Hell), and the gracious sacrifice of Christ for your sins, you do not take advantage of the privilege you have. Many times we (me included) become complacent.
We think that because we may have been followers of Christ as long as we can remember that we are better than others, who just recently became Christians or are better than those who are still followers of Satan. This cannot be further from the truth. The advantage that the Jews have and that we have shown us how much of a need that we have of Christ that it is only by his grace can we be saved. Yes we have a privilege but this privilege does not give us the right to be arrogant.
Let’s now dive a little more of what it means to be a covenant child. You can see in verses 3-8, that even though a person may be part of the covenant (being part of the life of the church) this does not mean that they are free from the temptation and the frequent falling into sin. Just the opposite in fact. While the blood of Christ instantly taken away the penalty of sin, it does not instantly remove our ability to be tempted to sin. We as Christians are temped all the time.
Before I said that you must not be arrogant if you are a covenant child, we see in these verses that even more than that we are held to a higher standard. Because you are part of a Bible believing church, that teaches you the law, teaches you God’s loving grace, that Jesus sacrifice is complete for the remission of your sins, you are put on a pedestal. Your public sins can many times feel like they are on public display for non-Christians to point out and say mock your inconstancy in saying that you say you follow the Ten Commandments yet I see you breaking them all the time.
What the unbelievers do not understand is the process called sanctification. Sanctification is the process which was begun at your conversion, by the power of the Holy Spirit works in you to get rid of your temptation to sin, and make you more like Christ. This process takes time, and will not be completed in your earthly life. This cleansing process is slower than molasses on a cold day, yet it is necessary part of your relationship with Christ. Because sanctification takes so long, non-Christians may be quick to point out our sinful actions yet, we know that the Holy Spirit is working in us.
If someone calls you out on your sin this is a perfect opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel and how God is still working in you. For God’s promise to cleanse you from all unrighteousness will not be broken because of you falling into sin, for God never breaks His promises, and if you are truly a follower of Christ you will be in your heavenly body completely sanctified of all your sin. Until then you must let the Holy Spirit work in you as painful as that will be.
What does it mean to be a covenant child? What advantage is there to being a covenant child? How can that advantage be abused?
Does our sin negate the promises of God? Why or why not? How does our sin affect our relationship with non-Christians? How can it seem like your sins are on a pedestal for others to see?
What is sanctification? Why is understanding this concept so important? Will you ever bet totally sanctified? Why or why not? And if so how and when? Who sanctifies you? How?