“Then what becomes of our boasting?” (Rom 3.27)The Greek word for boasting comes from the battlefield. Soldiers going into battle have always looked for something to give them confidence to advance against the enemy, some kind of empowerment, some kind of mental edge. In the Greco-Roman world soldiers painted their faces, wore elaborate tattoos, carried lucky talismans, generated ear-splitting and psychologically disturbing noise, sang inspiring chants, marched to bold cadences, and, of course, employed the timeless and ever- creative taunt. All these were done to say to your heart and to yell at your enemies, “We are superior! We are better than you! You don’t have a prayer.”
The Apostle Paul assumes everyone boasts: “Then what becomes of our boasting?” (Rom 3.27)Paul assumes all are trying to build themselves up, trying to construct confidence. Whatever we boast in is what gives us confidence to go out and face the day. Whatever we boast in is what supports the weight of our lives - it fundamentally defines us.
Paul has just unpacked the wonder of the gospel. The good news is that justification is free for us, but not free for God. Now in Romans 3.27-31, Paul applies the wonder of justification to our lives; he’s after a specific change-on-the-spot by the power of justification: “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded” (Rom 3.27). Paul is after an end to self-effort to build up self, an end to construct confidence, an end to all strategies to save ourselves. Paul wants an end to our boasting. Why? Justification excludes boasting; justification ends all boasting.
How does justification end all boasting in our lives? Paul answers through the principle of faith: “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law (or principle)? By a law (or principle) of works? No, but by the law (or principle) of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom 3.27-28).
According to the Bible, there are two ways to build a life: the way of works or the way of faith, the way of constructing self-confidence or the way of trusting in a Jesus-constructed confidence, the way of building up self or the way of trusting in a Jesus-achieved identity, the way of self-justification or the way of trusting in a Jesus-justification. Faith says, “I bring nothing but my need for Jesus and His Work. I transfer my trust out of my self-justifying hands and into Christ’s justifying hands.” Faith says to what we boast in: “I don’t need you. You can’t justify me, only Jesus can and has. Jesus helped me transfer my trust away from self and my works to Him and His work for justification.”
When believing replaces boasting, boasting ends. When believing replaces boasting, comfort and confidence begin. Replace your boasting with believing.