Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 3:1-8 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: The word advantage means “a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position.”
In baseball, if you know what pitch the pitcher is going to throw, you’re more likely to get a hit. In football, if you know what the defense is set up to defend, you’re more likely to score a touchdown. To know the strategy of your opponent gives you a great advantage in the sporting world.
In Rome, the Jewish Christians thought they had an advantage in Kingdom politics. They assumed that because they had the law and the prophets, because they were God’s chosen people, they wouldn’t have to answer for their sins like those in the Gentile world. They thought that their advantage would save them from the wrath that comes as the result of a life of debauchery.
Paul checks their false sense of security at the door, letting them know that they do have an advantage, but their advantage isn’t a get-out-of-wrath-free card. Their advantage doesn’t give them the authority to sin without penalty. Their advantage is that they have the “very words of God” in their scriptures.
The Jews had access to a deeper understanding of Jesus because they had been given the law and the prophets. Their advantage didn’t give them license to sin; on the contrary, it called them to a deeper holiness that begged to be shared with the world around them. It didn’t make them better than everybody else; it challenged them to share their understanding of Jesus with those who didn’t have the advantage of the “very words of God.”
Jews had been taught to keep different Sabbaths. They now had the advantage of finding rest in Christ like they never had in simply observing a shadow of what was to come. Jews had circumcision as a covenant. Now they could take their understanding of that Abrahamic covenant with the new understanding that their pierced foreskin was a mere shadow of the pierced skin of their crucified Savior. Their advantage wasn’t a leg up on salvation—instead, it was a responsibility to share their faith with a world in dire need of Jesus.
Recalibrate: Do you feel that your faith gives you an advantage in life? In what ways?
Respond: Ask Jesus to humble you so that your advantages can serve others.
Remember: “God keeps His word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth” (Romans 3:3, MSG).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Pacific Union College Church in Angwin, CA. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Mark has served as a youth pastor, Bible teacher, college and academy chaplain, and lead pastor in the United States and Canada for the last 33 years. He has also authored four books: Born Chosen, Live Out Loud, Portals, and Just Jesus.
Every parent wants to make sure their child is well cared for. This includes having good food to eat, medicine when they’re sick, warm clothes, and maybe even a fancy white noise machine to help them sleep. The Jews were nurtured well in the Word of God. They had everything they needed, but were they any better off? Remember today that all the things you do for your child are wonderful, but take a breath and know that Jesus holds him or her as well.
Have you ever been given a head start in a race or in a game? Is it easier to win if you’ve been given a head start? In the Bible text, Paul calls a head start an “advantage.” He says that the Jews thought they might have had an advantage with God. But even if it seems like someone has a head start, God keeps His promises to all of us.
Romans 3:1-2 can be a bit tricky to understand. Advantage? Circumcision? Jews? Sometimes it can be hard to apply the Bible to our lives. Yet when you read this text, remember that it is talking about signs between God and His chosen people. Paul claims that the privilege the Jews had is that they were entrusted with the Word of God. The very Word we read and grow from today! Take a moment to reflect on how the Word of God has impacted your life.