As a personal devotional project I have been slowly paraphrasing various Bible passages. Below is Romans Chapter Three. If you have never tried this particular exercise, give it a try, it can really bring the Bible to life.
[edit: This was written in 2008. Fast forward to 2015 when Dr. Jennings' paraphrase of the entire New Testament was finished. It's called "The Remedy" and is available for free as a mobile app and here on-line!]
Romans Chapter Three
3:1 If anybody can be saved and genetics don’t make a difference, then what advantage is there in being a Jew and what good is circumcision? 2 Being a Jew has tremendous advantage! The Jews have been given the truth from God himself. They have been blessed with the Scriptures, the teaching tools of circumcision, the sanctuary and feast days – all designed to enlighten the mind with healing truth. Not only that, but they have been given instructions on healthy living, which results in better health and more efficient mental function.
3:3 But what if some did not recognize the meaning of all God has given them and did not develop trust in God? Will their failure to trust God nullify God’s trustworthiness? 4 Absolutely not! God is trustworthy even if every human being is a liar and fraud. As it is written:
“God may you be proved right and true in the hearts and minds of your intelligent creatures when you present yourself openly for their judgment.”
3:5 But if our sickness and selfishness makes God’s patient, healing love more clearly seen and understood, how do we interpret that? Do we say that since our wickedness makes God’s goodness easier to see, since our selfishness makes God’s love easier to comprehend, since our sickness makes God’s cure easier to understand that we are therefore helping God win his case and God is unjust if he doesn’t give us a free pass? (I am using a human argument that fails to understand the basic principles upon which the universe operates.) 6 Absolutely not! If that was the case how could God allow anyone to experience the consequences of persistent refusal of his life-giving remedy? 7 Some who see sin as a legal problem might argue, “If I were to lie in order to help God reveal what truthfulness is and thus increase his glory, I am actually on his side helping him, why should I suffer the fate of a sinner?” 8 They might as well try saying – as we are being falsely accused of saying – “It is by doing wrong that the right occurs. It is by doing evil that good results. It is by acting selfishly that love grows.” Those who teach such things deserve the consequence of a depraved and destroyed mind, which is the only result of practicing methods at variance with God’s. They fail to understand that violations of God’s law of love actually damage the sinner and destroy God’s image, methods and principles within him.
3:9 What conclusion shall we then draw? Are we any better than anyone else? Of course not! We have already shown that all mankind, Jews and Gentiles alike are all infected with the same destructive element – distrust, fear and selfishness, and all are in need of the same cure. 10 As it is written:
“There is none whose heart and mind is perfectly healthy, none that is free from the infection of distrust, fear and selfishness, not even one;
3:11 there is no one who understands God’s character, methods and principles; no one seeks to know God.
3:12 The entire human race has accepted lies about God and turned away from him, they have become completely necrotic in character; there is no one who does good, who loves others, who is selfless and kind, not even one.”
3:13 “The words they speak bring only death;
Their mouths utter only lies about God.”
“The poison of lies, from the serpent Satan, is on their lips because they have accepted his version of God.”
3:14 “There voice is filled with cursing and bitterness and they complain about how life is not fair.”
3:15 “They are quick to murder;
3:16 they are tornados of destruction, vortexes of misery reeking havoc wherever they go.
3:17 They don’t know how to bring peace, heal wounds, be kind or sacrifice self for the good of others.”
3:18 “They don’t admire and respect God, but are afraid of him because they don’t know him.”
3:19 Now we know that the 10 Commandments are like a medical diagnostic instrument, identifying infection and diagnosing disease. It diagnoses accurately everyone who is infected with distrust of God, filled with selfishness and is dying of sin, so that everyone who claims to be sin-free or free of selfishness will be silenced and the entire world will recognize its need of God’s healing solution. 20 Therefore, no one will be declared to be perfectly healthy and like Christ in character by adhering to a set of rules; rather, it is through the 10 Commandments that we become aware of our sickly state of mind.
3:21 But now God has revealed, a healthy state of being – a character that is right and perfect in everyway, that did not come from the written code, but is exactly what the Scriptures and the 10 Commandments were pointing your minds toward. 22 This perfect state of being comes from God and is created within us by God when we trust him. Our trust in him is established by the evidence given through Jesus Christ of his supreme trustworthiness. There is no difference amongst any ethnic groups, 23 for all humanity is infected with the same disease of distrust, fear and selfishness, and are deformed in character and fall far short of God’s glorious ideal for mankind. 24 Yet all, who are willing, are healed freely by God’s gracious remedy that has been provided by Jesus Christ. 25 God presented Jesus as the way and means of restoration. Now, through trust established by the evidence of God’s character revealed when Christ died, we may partake of the remedy procured by Christ. God did this to demonstrate he is right and good, because in his forbearance he suspended, for a time, the ultimate consequence of sin and has been falsely accused of being unfair. 26 So, he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so he would be seen as right when he heals those who trust in Jesus.
3:27 Where, then, is human bragging or accomplishment? It has no place, for our healing has been accomplished by God, through trust made possible by Jesus. And why is boasting not possible? Because our efforts to conform to a set of rules does not establish trust or remove the infection of selfishness from our hearts! Only trust in God eliminates fear opens the heart to God and then he uses his divine power to recreate us, in love, to be like Jesus. 28 Therefore, we insist that a man is cleansed – set right, only by trusting in God and opening his heart to him – and this is different from keeping rules. 29 Is the Creator of the entire human race the God of the Jews only? Is he not God of all humanity, including Gentiles? Of course – he is the God of all humanity, 30 and he will heal the circumcised if they trust him and the uncircumcised will also be healed if they trust him. 31 Do we then destroy or make useless, by our trust, the written code God gave to help us? Of course not! We show that the written code was helpful in diagnosing our sickness, revealing God’s plan to heal and leading us back to trust so we could be healed.