Paul has just dispatched with the arguments that a Jew might make against his accusation that all are slaves to sin, and all under judgment, and all need God and His gospel. Now Paul will tie up the loose ends, finishing up what he started in chapter 1, verse 18, and prove the universality of sin. Considering this, all cultures agree on this in the abstract, they know that we are all under the guilt of our own selves, and we call that sin. It is just that most also believe in the dynamic power of mankind to overcome that sin, reaching itself up to its own heaven in its own innate power.
Now there are actually those that say there is no sin, and no evil, that this is all an illusion. That is self-refuting, we can’t think our way out of it. This isn’t an illusion, it is an illustration that indeed there is sin, there is evil, and that there is a God to whom we are all accountable. Now some say that there is sin, but there is no God. What unbelieving people are trying to say is that there is no Creator and so there is no accountability, no ultimate accountability, except accountability to man himself. Of course that means what man says is permissible changes over time as we “evolve” but no amount of evolution will make everyone “okay” no matter how low man’s standard goes. There is no moral evolution in the sense that man can never climb his way out of the depths of his own heart. Russian writer, philosopher and Christian Fyodor Dostoevsky: "If there is no God, then all things are permissible. ..." There is no humanistic salvation. There is no educational salvation, consider the recent astronaut murder plot situation.
A.W. Tozer: The world’s spirit is strong and it can play at religion with every appearance of sincerity. It can have fits of conscience. It will contribute to charitable causes and campaigns on behalf of the poor, but all with its own condition: “Let Christ keep His distance and never assert His Lordship.”
When people band together in humanistic efforts at self-improvement without God, unless God in His common grace restrains us, the end result is worse, not better. Remember our earlier discussion of Romans 1:18 and the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:18)
Now some say they believe in some sort of God, but also believe that God owes mankind forgiveness without penalty, or that men can tip the scales in their favor somehow, by being more good than bad and following a religious set of rules and ritualism and practice. In all of these scenarios the problem is that they don’t see sin as bad as it really is, and we don’t see how holy God is. The Christian believes that there is no hope without God intervening Himself, that there is no way out of sin and no way to be saved without God.
Vs. 9 – Paul is including himself in with his people the Jews. Perhaps we can understand “No not at all” by saying “not altogether”, because he just said they have some advantages. When Paul says not at all he means not in the saving sense. Yes they had more light but this just served to shed more light on their own guiltiness. Paul has already given the accusation; he has already charged everyone. He has given the scenarios and answered the claims against this charge. Now he turns to the Bible itself as the final proof of guilt. He shows the Jews that their own scriptures declare this very fact. He takes the OT like a mirror to show us the ubiquitous nature of sin.
Vs.10-18 – These quotations from the Psalms (Psalms 14:1-3, 5:9, 140:3, 10:7, 36:1) and from Isaiah 59:7-8 all support the opening statements in verse 9 and 10: both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, and none is righteous, no, not one.
This look at the human condition is depressing. What’s the point? The Apostle Paul wants us to understand our complete inability to save ourselves. This is actually a hopeful message, we are hurt to be healed, wounded to be made well, put to death to be made alive. If we see the depths of our sin we can appreciate the magnitude of our deliverance. We must believe that we have the sickness so that we will believe in and take the cure. We see the problem before the prescription.
In looking at each of these six Old Testament quotes Paul doesn't mean that every one has the whole indictment in it, but that taken all together they have the whole indictment. Psalm 14:1-3 (vs.10-12) refers to the Gentile world, while Isaiah 59:7-8 (vs.15-17) refers to the Jews.
The point is that the Old Testament declares that Jewish people are sinners and Gentile people are sinners. Even Adam before the fall was not righteous, he was innocent. Wherever you have someone called "righteous" in the Old Testament it is not because they were not sinners, but because God had mercifully intervened in their lives and given them the grace of faith and forgiveness to set them right with God. Paul knew that happened for the Old Testament saints. We know this because in Romans 4:3 he quotes Genesis 15:6, "(Abraham) believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." So when Paul quotes the Old Testament that "none is righteous, no not one," he means that we, by nature, are unrighteous. He does not mean that there was no way to have a right standing with God in the Old Testament. They were circumcised in heart, as he explained in Romans 2:29.
no one seeks for God – What about all the religion and rituals and practices from the beginning of time? What about them? If man initiates the search then he doesn’t seek the true God, the God of the Bible. Instead he seeks an idol that he makes himself, as Paul explained in Romans 1. Again, he has already said all of this, now he is using the OT scripture to back it up conclusively. He finishes off with “There is no fear of God before their eyes”.
In all we have seen from Romans 1:18-3:18 we have seen ourselves, and our whole race. We have seen our lack of power and our lack of purity. I am not God, and I do not deserve His kingdom. Neither do you. I realize that I deserve nothing from God but His anger, and that I am lost without hope if I do not receive grace from Him. I know this to be true. How about you?
Now having seen what we all are, what about Jesus? That is the whole point isn’t it? Just look at Him here in all His beauty. Yes, against the backdrop of sinful humanity, we see the surpassing glory of Christ!
Look at the negative phrases in Romans 3:10-18 again and see Christ as opposed to them in magnificent splendor.
10 – Jesus was righteous; the Bible says yes, He is the only One.
11 – Jesus did understand God, the Bible says He is the only One to have seen the Father, and came from Him, and Jesus is His Son. The Bible says that Jesus did seek God. He only did what His Father wanted; He sought Him early in the morning and late at night in prayer, and followed the lead of the Holy Spirit His whole life, even if it meant death.
12 – The Bible describes Jesus as turning aside to do the work of the Father, turning aside to help others, not turning aside to His own, selfish way. Jesus started out in a manger, but became of more worth to the world than anyone else in history. The Bible says Jesus went about doing good, healing people, and setting them free from oppression.
13 – His throat wasn’t an open grave; He called people out from the grave. When He died people sprung forth from their graves, and when He returns we will all come out of our graves. His tongue spoke no deceit and His lips had no poison, His words were Spirit and Life.
14 – His mouth was full of praising His Father and His bitterness was sorrow for those that had caused curses upon themselves.
15 – His gave His own feet to be shed blood for those who didn’t even love Him.
16 – In His path are resurrection and joy.
17 – Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
18 – Jesus only had eyes for His Father’s will, and for your salvation He said to the Father, not my will but thine be done.
Jesus was like us in that He had human flesh, but He was not like us in that He had no sin. Against the backdrop of all we have seen here, we can surely see that Jesus is the most beautiful, wonderful, marvelous, awesome being in the universe, and He bids us to come to Him. If we receive Him, He will receive us into glory.
In this passage I see my own sin, and I see my only Savior.
It is Jesus that I want, it is Jesus that I must have, it is Jesus that will truly fulfill me, it is Jesus that will pay the penalty for me, it is Jesus who will be righteousness for me, it is Jesus to whom I owe my love and my life, it is Jesus who will set me free, it is Jesus who will bring me back from the dead, it is Jesus who will give me eternal life. Jesus is what I need, how about you?
Labels: Bible, Church, Gospel, Paul, Romans, Sermon, Think About It