Sinning Against Grace

“…my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen” (Romans 9:3-5).

In no way is the purpose of God’s grace to encourage evil. Grace is not a license to continue in sin (Romans 6:1-2) or to persist in ungodliness or worldly lusts (Titus 2:11-12). Its purpose is not to encourage complacency, arrogance, or a sense of entitlement. Instead, it ought to be the catalyst for abundant humility and gratitude.

Somewhere in the two millennia between God’s call of Abraham in Genesis 12 and the first century A. D., many of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had strayed dramatically from the true purpose of God’s grace.

When a standard expression in a Jewish man’s prayer is: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax-collector” (Luke 18:11) or “God, I thank you that I was not born a woman, a slave, or a Gentile”, a grotesque perversion of God’s grace is on public display.

In Romans 9:4-5 the apostle Paul enumerates a stunning list of blessings he and his countrymen according to the flesh received because of God’s amazing grace:

  • the adoption” (their forefather Abram was chosen to become the father of a multitude, begetting a nation from which the Messiah would come)

  • the glory” (their ancestors were eyewitnesses of the cloud which covered the tabernacle of meeting when the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle in Moses’ day [Exodus 40:34] and when the glory of the Lord filled the temple Solomon built about six hundred years later [1 Kings 8:11])

  • the covenants” (made at Mount Sinai [Exodus 20-23] and re-affirmed forty years later in the land of Sihon, east of the Jordan River [Deuteronomy 4:44-46], Jehovah had entered into a legally binding betrothal to Israel)

  • the giving of the Law” (Israel’s history included that momentous occasion when Mount Sinai was completely in smoke and the whole mountain quaked greatly as the finger of God carved the Ten Commandments into two stone tablets)

  • the service of God” (the august privilege of worshiping the great “I AM that I AM”, first at the tabernacle and finally at the temple with all its pomp and splendor)

  • the promises” (of the Christ—i.e., “the Seed”—to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David)

These immense spiritual blessings were not because of Israel’s merit but because of Jehovah’s grace. Because of this, humility and gratitude, not a sense of superiority and entitle­ment, are most appropriate.

The fact that these things were a means to an end—the Christ “who is over all, the eternally blessed God”—and not the end itself does not justify the Jews’ unbelief and stubborn refusal to obey His gospel of salvation.

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Author: jchowning

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