Have you ever asked yourself, “Does my faithlessness to God nullify the faithfulness of God?” A quick glance at this question makes it seem almost frivolous. I mean, how could our faithlessness nullify His faithfulness? A few quick thoughts about this makes the question seem almost invalid. However, I think for those Jews who were asking this question (Rom. 3:3) and for those who hold to the Reformed doctrine of perseverance of the saints (I am in this fold), this question is a valid concern when we fall into sin. When we sin, we hold a trial and put the wrong one on the stand. Those under the old covenant and those under the new covenant both are guilty of accusing God of faithlessness because of our faithlessness.
Old Covenant Accusation
The dilemma of the beginning of Romans 3 has to deal with the law. It is clear that the Jews were favored by God through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and so on. And this favor was shown in the grace of the giving of the law. It was God himself who gave the law. The establishment of the old covenant was established by God. The law was “entrusted” to the Jews and so they had access to a knowledge of who God is, what he has done, and what he commands. However, there were some who were “unfaithful” to this law (“oracles”). They were unfaithful to obey it and unfaithful to exalt the God of this law so that the nations would come to worship the one true God. So, when his people disobeyed and disregarded the law or the covenant stipulations, the erroneous feeling that God, the one who gave the law in the first place, is unfaithful arose in their hearts.
New Covenant Accusation
The same is felt by new covenant believers who hold to the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. There is a dangerous, but real tendency to question God’s faithfulness when we fall into sin. The Reformed teaching that God will preserve all whom he has redeemed through the blood of Christ is one of the most treasured doctrines of most Baptists and all Calvinists. It can be summed up in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.” It is also seen in John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
However, if we fall into a pit of sin and feel like we cannot get out despite desperate prayers, we can fall into spiritual depression questioning God’s faithfulness to us. If we become unfaithful and sin, it is very easy for us to blame or question the faithfulness of the God who has promised to preserve us. We question God’s promises based on our circumstances and sin.
The Folly of False Accusations
While these feelings are genuine and should not be written off, their presence is evidence of the pervasiveness of our depravity. We think so highly ourselves that when we sin against a perfectly holy and glorious God, our Creator-Redeemer, we look to the right Person in the wrong way. We acknowledge that we are faithless, but then when we look up to God. And instead of trusting with confident hope in his promises, we continue in faithlessness as we doubt his sovereign goodness and grace. May we repent of such faithless feelings. Oh, how I long for the day when the treacherous temptations of Satan are no more and sin no longer haunts us; for in that day, with unveiled face we will behold the glory of the one who sought us, bought us, and kept us to that day.
The real, but erroneous thought that since God gave the law (for the Jews in Romans 3) and since God has promised to preserve us to the end (for all in Christ) he is faithless when we are faithless is absolutely preposterous according to Paul. Is this erroneous thought so? “By no means!” God is the standard of righteousness and it is by his own faithfulness that we are seen as faithless. By our sin, we all the more prove God’s righteousness since it is by his holy standard that we are judged. This does not mean that since our sin proves God to be righteous that he is somehow unjust or “unrighteous to inflict wrath on us” (Rom. 3:5). Indeed, God’s truthfulness is proven and it abounds through our lies concerning him and his law, but this does not free us from condemnation. Instead of accusing God of faithlessness, we must come to the end of ourselves in humility and depend solely on his eternal faithfulness.
Trusting the Triune God this Christmas
Our doubting must be swallowed up in the glory of the Trinity. This Christmas season, when feelings of doubt rise up in your soul, lean on the Christ child who died for all your doubting. As you celebrate the first coming of Christ and anticipate the second coming of Christ this Advent season, trust in his propitiatory work whereby he bore the full wrath of God against you and your sin. Hope in the sanctifying work of the Spirit to drive out these feelings of doubt and replace them with satisfying trust in the God of your salvation–from beginning to end. Finally, rest in the loving arms of your Father who is working for your good and his glory in all your sin and suffering. And remember, for his own sake, God remains faithful despite our faithlessness. Rejoice in the truth of 2 Timothy 2:11-13
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful–
for he cannot deny himself.