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Romans 3:8

They continue their argument saying that if we do evil, good may come of it for God. Paul says that their condemnation (judgment) from God is just.

Paul cites many questions likely being asked by the competing Jewish “authorities” in his letter to the Romans, many of which are immediately followed by the phrase “may it never be.” But Paul singles out this particular question and calls it slander. Slander is an untrue report about someone. In this case, the reported slander is that Paul is teaching that “we ought to do evil because good comes of it.” Of this slander, Paul states “Their condemnation is just.” Paul does not say how the competing Jewish “authorities” will be condemned, but it will be deserved.

Why would someone claim that Paul is teaching we ought to do evil that good may come? Clearly, that is a ridiculous statement that no right-thinking person could accept. But that is precisely why Paul’s detractors wish to pin the position on Paul, to destroy the legitimacy of Paul’s gospel message.

The very best slander has a basis in truth, and the competing Jewish “authorities” have a basis for their slander. If there was no basis, Paul would not have bothered to answer the charge with such an elaborate letter as this one to the Roman believers whose faith is being “proclaimed throughout the world.” (Romans 1:8) What is the basis for their slander?

It is the statement of Peter in Acts 15: “We believe that we [Jews] are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they [Gentiles] also are.” (v. 11)

Paul makes the same statement repeatedly in Romans, most directly in Chapter 5:20: “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

Paul is quite clear that one man (the God-man, Jesus Christ) is responsible for overcoming the sins of the world. No amount of law-keeping on the part of any other person adds anything whatsoever to the work of that one man, who is also God. Jesus died for all sins: past, present, and future, so that when anyone sins God’s grace only gets greater.

So, these Jewish “authorities,” perhaps from the same group of Pharisees in Acts 15, believed but advocated that faith alone was insufficient, that Gentiles must be circumcised and obey the law of Moses to be saved. They want to overturn Paul’s teaching of grace. So they make a logical connection to Paul’s teaching, that righteousness before God comes by grace alone, and they state that “if this is true, and grace abounds when we sin, then that means we ought to sin a lot so that God’s grace will be even bigger.” If that is true, then, of course, God would not be able to judge sin because we are just doing Him a favor.

People may argue against proclaiming the freely given grace of God by saying “We can’t say that or people will understand their liberty in Jesus and choose to sin.” Paul will answer that argument very soon.

We know the competing Jewish “authorities’” argument was persuasive in Paul’s era because the church he planted in Galatia fell for it. Paul’s letter to the Galatians makes the same basic refuting argument as this letter to the Romans. But what these competing Jewish “authorities” are missing is the holistic picture. Jesus gives us His resurrection power to overcome sin in our daily walk, but that is exercised through faith. And sin is not a desirable thing, but a detestable thing; even though we can sin and God’s grace will cover it, that is clearly not in our best interest (as Paul will make abundantly clear in chapters 6 through 8).

Biblical Text

8 And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”? Their condemnation is just.