What Does Romans 3:8 Mean?

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.

Romans 3:8(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

As we read through the first few chapters of Romans, we see Paul developing his watertight reasoning, where he exposes the depravity of every man and presents the truth - that the entire human race stands guilty before God. Paul not only deals with the depravity of the immoral man, the hypocrisy of the principled person, and the arrogance of religious people, but he also addresses the twisted and perverted guilt of those that mock the truth of the glorious gospel of God with their own cynical scepticism.

One way Paul presents his argument is through a series of rhetorical questions that could be asked by those that oppose his teaching, but through which he provided the answer by presenting the uncompromised truth of the gospel - that ALL men are sinners and all fall people short of the glory of God, whether they are moral or immoral, Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, male or female, circumcised or uncircumcised, religious or irreligious, or simply cynical towards the truth of God's word.

As Paul introduces each of his arguments, we find him presenting principles that are rooted in God's gracious character while exposing the fallen nature of every man. For instance, Paul pointed out that the many advantages that circumcised Jews have over their Gentile neighbours, was not a passport to heaven, as many believed. Jews were equally sinful as Gentiles. Jew were equally in need of salvation which for Jew and Gentile alike is a free gift of God's grace - that is accessed through FAITH.

Although prideful religiosity and legalism was the hallmark of most circumcised Jews, it rendered them equally in need of salvation as Gentiles. The pedigree of a circumcised Jew did not exclude him from the need of forgiveness - neither did the ungodly behaviour of an immoral man; the sanctimonious stance of the respectable person, or the generosity of a philanthropic person.

There was, however, much opposition to the truth that Paul taught which caused many to twist his words and make defamatory remarks against him. Some were offended that Paul was exposing their depravity when explaining God's gracious offer of salvation towards sinners, and his words were often deliberately twisted to mean the exact opposite!

Some people were falsely saying that Paul was teaching that sinfulness was a good thing, because it gave God an opportunity to forgive man. These people were suggesting that telling a lie was good because it amplified God's truthfulness, "if a lie highlights the truthfulness of God, which glorified Him", they argued, "then why should we still be judged as a sinner?" They were making the outrageous suggestion that sinning was good, as it highlighted the mercy of God.

This was not only twisting the truth of the gospel of grace but was the most outrageous argument against the character of God and provided a sinner with an  license to sin! Paul used this shocking reasoning in his fourth rhetorical question when he challenged this ungodly attitude, by asking, rhetorically "So why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”? But he concluded with a very serious warning. "Their condemnation is just."

While Paul was not replying to an actual question, this absurd attitude had permeated the thinking of some believers, making it necessary for Paul to condemn this thinking swiftly and powerfully. Twisting the truth of the gospel of God into becoming a license for man to sin, in order that God would be glorified by their sinful behaviour, is one of the most shocking perversions of the truth of God's word.

While it is true that God is glorified in every eventuality of life, whether good or evil, the argument of "let's do bad things so that God is glorified" must be recognised as trawling the depths of depravity and must be strongly denounced -  and  Paul succinctly concluded by saying - "their condemnation is just."

May we be careful not to stray into a path that promotes a license to sin, nor to become trapped into taking part in any legalistic practices or religiosity. Let us also be careful not to stand smugly on the moral high-ground or sink into the depths of depravity. Rather let us rejoice that God loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to pay the price for our sin so that by faith in Him alone we can be forgiven and declared righteous - for the glory of God and our eternal good.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word of God and the truths that it contains. Give me the wisdom to choose the good and to reject the evil. Help me not to be influenced into unholy ways by paying heed to the ungodly or unscriptural arguments of those that deliberately, or ignorantly, promote a twisted Gospel or present a perverted picture of Your holy character. Give me a deeper understanding of Your word and guide me into all truth and give me a deeper knowledge of the Lord Jesus and love for You  - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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