27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:27-31 (ESV)
Boasting. This is the problem with the gospel. This is why sinners don’t really like it. We want to be able to boast, even before God. It shows us the evil of our heart, the self-destructive madness that we try to satisfy as we go off to find ourselves. But we have nothing to boast about. We want God to factor in our good works into our salvation, the character we have spent so much time developing. And God won’t have it. He will justify us apart from the law, by faith. If he was going to factor in good works as we would like, then he would also have to factor in all our failures, mistakes, and down right malicious behavior. He who calls his brother a fool is guilty of hellfire, and I know for my part I’m guilty of ridiculing brothers with far worse language than that. If we were to factor in our good works, those too would come along and we would not find ourselves in the black.
But some attention should be paid here to Paul’s argument from the oneness of God to his universality. God is one. On the one hand this speaks to the unity of the Holy Trinity. Paul is here making reference to the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4. But this also means that in reality there is only one God. All other things that we refer to as gods, are false gods, inferior gods. Sure there are times when even men are referred to as gods in scripture, mortal as they are. This has to do very much with the fact that we have been created in God’s image to share in the dominion of his creation, where we in a manner of speaking play god with our little domains, deciding what weeds to pull, what flowers to plant here or there, which dog to take home from the pound. But we as gods have a God who is God of gods, even as he is King of kings. He is the creator of the world over which and in which we play god, and he is one, not many, but one, if we have peace with him then none of the others matter, at least not in the sense that we should have to find peace with them, satisfy them, propitiate them to be able to find peace with ourselves, or secure our salvation. And peace with God is what we have on behalf of the propitiation of his son set forth out of love. Now, now these others only matter insomuch as God has put them in our lives to be objects of our love, even has they are objects of his love. We don’t have to justify ourselves to them, but now we love them, and loving them we uphold the law even greater than those who would try to justify themselves by the law that will not allow our justification.