Introduction:In our rapid flight through Romans 9:10-13 last week we attempted to make the point that the integrity of God automatically means that He does not subject His words to the choices and/or actions of men. There were two major issues involved in that study: the fact that "faith" simply cannot exist unless integrity is genuine; and, the fact that once God "speaks", His purpose is not only revealed, but enforced.
Also in that study we saw that Paul's "proof" of his thesis is that God said through Malachi, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Malachi 1:2-3).
However, there are two paragraphs of thought in Romans 9:1-13. In the first, Paul makes a pretty big deal out of his "love" for an "Israel" that was into rebellion against God in a big way and suffering the consequences for it. In the second, Paul makes a pretty big deal out of the fact of God's integrity. But, at the very end of the second, Paul seems to destroy the impact of the first: he quotes certain words of the "believable God" that bring "hate" into the picture. If Paul intended his readers to believe that his love for Israel was genuine, wny would he cast himself in the light of an apostle of a God Who actively "hates" certain ones that descended from Isaac? Does not the profession of "love" die under the demonstration of "hate"? And, does this not give us a different answer to Paul's question in 9:14 than Paul gave? If God "loves and hates" with no regard for the "works" of men, how is He "righteous"?
I. First, the Issue of Righteousness is the Issue of a Legitimate Response to "Works".
A. "Righteousness" is a legal term.
1. Righteousness has to do with the actual practice of treating others as they deserve to be treated.
a. It is "unrighteous" to do something to someone that they did not deserve.
b. It is "unrighteous" to do something to someone that they may actually have deserved, but the "doer" did not have the status required for the action taken.
c. The major demonstration of the meaning of "righteousness" is the judgment of the One sitting upon the Great White Throne.
1) Righteousness requires an investigation into both actions taken and their reasons.
2) It is, therefore, "unrighteous" for a person to summarily act without going through the process of allowing the facts to be brought to light (Note Paul's demand of the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 4:5).
3) It is even "unrighteous" to act in harmony with "desert" if the "actor" does not have the legal standing to take the action (Note Jesus' insistence upon His own qualifications in John 5:22, 27).
2. Righteousness is completely absorbed by the issue of "works": all legitimate judgment is "according to works".
B. "Righteousness" is not an issue of "Mercy".
1. Mercy is actually a contravention of "righteousness" if Justice is denied by it (this is the heart of the Gospel wherein Jesus "died for our sins").
2. Mercy, in a very real sense, has nothing to do with "desert".
C. The "problem" of tying God's "purpose" to "works": Justice completely undermines Mercy.
1. Under "works" noone obtains the blessing of God (Note Romans 3:19-20 and Galatians 2:16).
2. Under "works" neither Jacob nor Esau obtains the birthright.
II. Second, the Issue of Love Has Nothing to Do With "Works".
A. Love is totally absorbed with two most fundamental issues.
1. One of those issues is "the provision of the particulars of life" for the beloved.
a. It is not "love" to impose destruction upon another (our text follows the quote of Malachi 1:2-3): that is "hate".
b. It is not "love" to permit such an imposition.
c. Love actively provides the particulars of life and blocks the forces of death.
2. The other of those issues is "the intention of the lover to provide those particulars".
a. It is not "love" to accidentally provide good to another as an unintended consequence.
b. Love intentionally pursues the provision of the particulars of life.
B. Love is totally divorced from the issues of "Justice".
III. Third, the Issue of Love Has Serious Complications Once It Moves Beyond "Two".
A. "Love" between "two" is a complete intention to provide the particulars of life at any cost.
B. But "love" involving more than two inescapably forces "selection" unlessall involved are equally absorbed in loving one another at any cost.
C. In a universe where a lack of love exists, selectivity is inescapable.
1. When this is the reality there are two issues involved.
a. One of those issues is the attitude of the "lover" toward him/her self.
b. The other of those issues is the attitude of the "lover" toward the possible objects of his/her love.
2. Since God was willing, and did, sacrifice Himself to provide an atonement for all sinners, He demonstrated a "love" for all, but that does not mean that He "loves all equally" because that is impossible in a fallen universe.