It’s one of those sins that afflicts every Christian at some point in their lives. We spoke of it yesterday with regard to the Jews of Paul’s day, but it is quite universal in application. The sin is called presumption, and it is the act whereby we presume upon God’s grace such that we treat sin as a trivial matter; after all, God forgives us our sins, so why worry? Thus, presumption is impudence, audacity, insolence, and outrageous effrontery before the Lord our God who, unlike us, takes sin very seriously.
Paul has just finished speaking of how the Jews had boasted of their superior position before God as God’s own people to whom He had given the law and circumcision. He doubles back now to agree that the Jews were indeed favored in that they were entrusted with the very oracles of God. Surely having the law of God and a covenantal sign (circumcision) of being His people is better than not having any of these things at all! But those in covenantal relation with God did not keep the covenant, and even the Gentiles recognized this (2:24). So the question then comes: “Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?” In other words, will God now turn faithless to His side of the covenant since the Jews proved faithless to theirs? And Paul answers in a strong Greek construction: μη γενοιτο! “Far be it!” or “Let it not happen!” or “By no means!” or “God [implied] forbid!” God remains true though we be false, which in turn gives Him every right to judge the world (as if He needed that in the first place).
Paul then goes on to recite the ridiculous arguments which some proposed then (and I suppose now) to justify their sin which may be paraphrased thus: “But if all this is so, then my faithlessness proves God’s faithfulness, my lie abounds to His glory, my sin magnifies God’s grace!” Paul then quotes those who slandered the gospel proclamation of grace as teaching, “Why not do evil that good may come?” He then closes with his own righteous judgment on such horrible hypocrisy: “Their condemnation is just.”
Paul is speaking of the sin of presumption as the Jews of his day took advantage of God’s gracious election of themselves as His people. But please note, Paul will warn the Gentile Christians of the same sin in chapter eleven. No one is above this particular sin. It is sneaky. No one would ever say: “I’m going to commit this sin and trample on the blood of Christ” (Hebrews 10:26-31). We know when we’re stealing, but presumption comes in by the back door. So be alert. We stand only by grace; wallow in it.