“But if our injustice serves to confirm the justice of God, what should we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world?” (Romans 3:5-6)
In the rather convoluted chapter from which this passage is taken, Paul is writing to a group of believers in Rome with whom he is unfamiliar. He hopes to visit Rome soon, and is setting forth his credentials, as it were, in terms of his understanding of the message and ministry of Jesus Christ. He begins with an issue of great concern to early followers: the question of how this new belief related to traditional Judaism. Paul is clear that simply being a Jew does not free anyone from the consequences of negative choices. “Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law,” he writes at 2:25, “but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.” In other words, the only advantage to being Jewish is that the faith was centered in an understanding of divine law. But it is up to each individual to either obey or disobey that law—and being Jewish doesn’t excuse you from the consequences. God is universal; the law—the way in which God expresses in the world—is universal. And consequences of our choices are also universal.