Dear Brother Beebe: Some three weeks ago my attention was called, by Brother Symmond’s, to the seventh verse of the third chapter of Romans, which reads: “For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why am I also judged as a sinner.” And at the time, nor yet, is my mind so clear on the intention of the Holy Ghost by the apostle as I desire, and although asking much of you, I would be glad to have you, through the “Signs” give your views, especially on the first clause. Likely it may meet Brother Symmond’s eye, although I cannot say he takes the “Signs.” From your brother in a desire to know the truth.
Reply to Brother J. G. Williams on Romans 3:7: According to this text, it should be read in connection with the verse which immediately follows, and in its connection also with his general argument presented in the preceding context. God is true, though every man be a liar: that is, God is justified in all his sayings, though his sayings are disputed by wicked men; their disputation and opposition shall show the contrast, and make the glory of God’s truth more clearly manifest; as triumphing over all error. And the righteousness of God shall be commended by contrast with our unrighteousness. Yet, although God will be glorified in the salvation of sinners; and the very fact that they are poor lost, guilty sinners, shall more abundantly show the riches of God’s grace in their salvation, than it could be if Christ had come to call the righteous, and not sinners to repentance. To illustrate this proposition Paul supposes a case. All men, himself included, are liars; that is, all have sinned; the saints are in no wise any better than those liars, and slanderers whose damnation is just; yet “the truth of God has more abounded through my lie.” God’s truth, though opposed by our lies, cannot be annulled, is made more apparent, and its power and majesty is more abundantly manifested by the violent opposition it is able to encounter and to triumph over. Yet, as we all know, the effect of our lie, in it being made to commend the truth of God, does not justify us in lying. Paul does not take the position that he is any less sinful in lying because through his lie the truth of God hath abounded to the glory of God; for if he had, it would have been no slander for their enemies to affirm of him that his doctrine was that we should sin that grace might abound. But he takes the position that although God’s truth hath the more abounded to God’s glory through “my lie,” yet I am none the less guilty for lying; and am therefore judged as a sinner. This would not be the case if we were justified in lying, or sinning, that grace might abound; if the end could justify the means.
“If our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say?” Shall we say because God is able to over-rule our wickedness for his own declarative glory, that therefore it is wrong for him to hold us guilty and to take vengeance on us for that which has resulted in his glory. Upon such a principle, why would Paul be judged as a sinner for telling a lie, if that lie had made God’s truth and glory abound? Or why were the Jews and Romans guilty in the crucifixion of him who was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God? Were his persecutors any less guilty of murder because God is glorified in the death of his Son, and in the great salvation resulting from his death?
Ungodly men in Paul’s day, like wicked men of our day, “slanderously report,” and some of them affirm, or swear, that the tendency of the doctrine of the apostle is that men should sin, that God may be glorified. But Paul repels the spiteful slander, and in the text, shows that although God’s truth should the more abound to God’s glory by my lie, yet I am no less a sinner in lying. I am still judged, by the law which forbids me to lie, as a sinner. Otherwise, or on any other view of the subject, “How shall God judge the world?” It is true that “the wrath of man shall praise God, and the remainder of wrath he will restrain.” And that neither men nor devils shall ever be able to go one step in wickedness beyond the fixed bounds or limitation which God in his inscrutable wisdom ordained, yet he will nevertheless judge the world in righteousness, and hold every sinner amenable for every transgression and disobedience to his eternal law. Paul then admits that if he lies he is judged as a sinner, although that lie be overruled for God’s glory; and why, or how could this lie, if he were required to sin, that the grace of God might abound?
October 1, 1865.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6
Pages 251 - 252