So a new objection is anticipated by Paul in this next section. If God used their unbelief and sin to further his plan and to reveal his glory, then how can he hold them guilty and condemn them?
How can God judge unbelief if he uses it to promote his plan?Romans 3:5, “But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.)”
Paul makes it clear that he is raising a hypothetical question. He is speaking not for himself now, not for God, but as one of their objectors might speak. So if Israel’s unbelief was all a part of God’s plan, how can God find fault with them?
This is the classic problem of the place of sin in the sovereign plan of God. “If God uses even our sin for good, then how can he rightly judge us?”People creatively justify their sin by making it appear good and acceptable to God.
Though this relationship between our sin and God’s plan isn’t directly explained in Scripture, it is the height of presumption to assume that no explanation exits.The question, as Paul words it, implies the negative. God is not unjust or unholy when he uses man’s sin and rebellion to advance his plan.
Paul quickly and clearly lays aside that charge.Romans 3:6, “Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?”
This question only becomes a problem for those who presume unfounded things.The pantheist sees everything as nothing more than God acting. If God is the force in us that sins, then there can be no human responsibility, no just judgment, and no real acts of men. By this line of reasoning Hitler’s desire to purify the human race would justify his atrocities.
By this line of reasoning we are wrong to arrest or punish criminals of any sort. By this line of reasoning no one should be judged by God for anything.
This is clearly false. Scripture shows that individuals are clearly held accountable for their immorality. Therefore the sins of people are their own acts, not God acting in them.
The religious humanist sees God as being controlled by man’s choices and actions. God is reduced to a beggar-deity hoping man will make the right choices so his plan will work out. By this line of reasoning man is god and is sovereign over the final outcome of all things. By this line of reasoning God does not direct anything to a planned outcome.
By this line of reasoning nothing is certain and there is no wrong way for things to happen.
This is clearly false. Scripture shows that God has decreed all things eternally. He has also decreed that individuals will be held accountable for immorality. It is the sinner who is morally responsible for his acts which are really his, though God decreed them to happen as part of his perfect plan.
Assumptions like these attempt to gut the idea of holiness. They presume that God cannot hold us responsible since his plan never fails. The fact of God’s Sovereignty and Providence are clearly established by direct statements in the Bible.
God calls us to be holy. We are to be specially his children, set apart from what we were before the transformation of our souls by grace, and from what we would continue to be aside from his power at work in us as his beloved children.
Since neither of these views is consistent with Scripture, man has no excuse for his sin. Israel has no exemption from judgment for her many sins, and for her recent rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah.
The un-redeemed often blend biblical language with those pantheistic or humanistic theories. Men object to the biblical teaching that “no one is saved by his own choices or deeds.” They hate the doctrines of God’s grace and the stated fact of eternal election of some to life. They ask “How can anyone be blamed for rejecting the gospel if God has ordained all things?”
Why would men dream up such convoluted ideas as these to explain away plain biblical statements? Our fallen nature hates the truth, and love its sin. It wants the kind of God who doesn’t hold them accountable for their actions and attitudes. It wants the kind of power and enlightenment Adam and Eve hoped for in Eden, to be like God.
To sweep away such a plainly wrong notion, Paul points to one simple fact: God does judge men in the final judgment. If the Jews could say their sin is excusable because God uses their unbelief for good, then anyone could say the same thing. No one would be held guilty for any sin since all is part of God’s decree. That is obviously not sound reasoning. There is a judgment. Therefore their logic and the data they assume to be true must be flawed.