Sinners one and all
GUILTY AS CHARGED (Rom 3:9-20)
Read Rom 3:9-20
Hypothetical story – adopting a child who down and out – would expect gratitude and honour?
Would expect, but would get? No.
Can you imagine the depth of human pride – that can be taken out of such a hopeless, helpless, horrid situation and in a few short weeks – forgotten all of that, forgotten what has been done for you – and you've come to the conclusion that you actually deserve all that you have, its your right and in fact you deserve better.... Whatever gratitude there was is replaced with complaining, and discontentment and dishonour....
That sinful propensity is exactly why God has given us Roman 3, God wants to remind us, as His adopted children to live with gratitute. The point of the passage we are about to look at is not to just to make us feel bad about ourselves, its to help us to understand the depth of God's grace. See we cannot fully understand the depth and breadth and height and strength and beauty of God's love – until we see fully and clearly how completely unloveable we are. We have to understand something of how depraved and despicable we really are – before we can understand how wonderful God's grace toward us is – that He would love us anyway.
Context of chapter 1-3
Open up Bible to Romans 3:9
1. No- one can plead ignorance. God has clearly revealed himself in creation, but we chose to worship the creation rather than the creator.
2. No one can plead immunity. Everyone, without exception will be judged according to our works. According to the standard of God's divine Law.
3. Nail in the coffin. When judged according to the standard of God's Law – will anyone be found innocent on that day? Can anyone plead innocence?
The stage is set as it were – and God the righteous judge looks down on all of humanity to see if there are any who could plead innocence, any who meet the standard of His righteousness
This is the charge that stands against you and I...- as one writer puts it:
· All people “are helpless slaves to the power of sin… not just sinners but helpless pawns under sin’s power.” (Moo, Romans, 204)
THE CHARGE: All people are completely sinful (3:9-12)
Let's break down this charge, to make sure we undertand it.
· Main emphasis is on pervasiveness – none
· vs 9 – Jew + Gentile - ALL
· vs 10: None, not one
· VS 11: No one, no one
· VS 12: All, together.
· First negative: NONE righteous, then positive ALL sinful, so all included in this accusation, none are excluded from this accusation
God’s verdict not ours (10)
· As it is written
· Vs 10 Quote from PS 14:1-3
· God looks down on humankind and what is His verdict
· Not about how we feel. May feel good, may think innocent – but what is the verdict from God our creator and righteous judge?
1. Our legal guilt (10)
o Righteous – has to do with our legal standing before God.
o Righteousness = Perfect conformity to the will of God – none is righteous, none is found blameless.
Illustraton: ladder to heaven
If God’s perfect standard of righteousness is represented by a platform somewhere up in the heavens
And our ability to conform is pictured as the rungs on a ladder reaching from earth to heaven
Then the worst (axe murder, serial killers) might be on wrung 1 because even axe murders do some right things. Very best of us on step 3 – still a million miles away from what God requires…
We are all thoroughly guilty!
2. Our intellectual blindness (11a)
· no one understands. Used of spiritual understanding, insight, perception. Used of Jesus’ parables in Matt 13 – hear the parables, but not understand their spiritual significance.
· 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
4 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
LANGUAGES: Have you ever answered your phone and someone is speaking a foreign language to you. … Sorry, don't understand a word you are saying. Try again, then realize they are wasting their time and hang up. They are communicating a sensible message to you, but you don't have the code to desipher it. God's truth is like a foreign language, just doesn't make sense.
3. Our emotional lostness (11b)
· Seeks after God, desires after God, searches intently after God, to have a relationship with Him.
· Our emotions are misdirected. We do not desire after God, but desire after sin, all that is not God.
The fact that there are so many different religions in the world is not an indication that we are all desparately seeking after God, and we are all getting there along our own pathway. It's an indication that we are all seeking avoid God and instead worship our own image of god, our own idols.
PREGNANT WOMAN EATING SAND: Have you ever heard of pregnant women who crave sand? OR chalk? Something gets messed up in their desires and they start to crave, to desire things that may even be harmful for them. Our desires are corrupt.
4. Our willful rebellion (12)
· All have turned away –
· Not only that legaly guilty, our minds are darkened, not only minds, but our emotions misdirected. Not only our emotions but our wills bent against God.
· it is purposefully directed ourselves away from God.
· People want to rebel – they choose to follow their own way and to lead themselves away from God
FORK IN THE ROAD: We come to a fork in the road – the arrow pointing this side says – To God. Other side says – somewhere else. We take the other way, anyway, anywhere, so long as it does not lead to God.
5. Our absolute failure (12b)
· Become worthless – idea of becoming morally worthless, useless, depraved. Our lives are unprofitable – we don’t accomplish the purpose for which God created us.
Illustration: like a broken lightbulb
that you turn on and it no longer gives any light so you throw it away – it has become useless.
· No one does good. This is hard for us to swallow because we tend to view things in relative terms and relative to others some people do good things,
· help old ladies across the road
· But judged from God’s standards what we do is not good. Because whatever is not done trusting in God’s strength for God’s glory is not good.
Isaiah 64:6 (ESV)
6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
This is the charge then:
Our intellect, our emotions, our will is corrupted and our very existence is futile, our lives have become useless...
Put another way:
Every single person that has ever lived is
Legally guilty, blind to God, unresponsive to God, rebellious against God and an absolute failure in God’s sight....
Scripture obviously doesn’t believe in boosting our self-concept!....
· Theologians call this total depravity.
· Sin has effected every part of our being – our thinking, our emotions and our will are bent on evil.
· Not that we are always as wicked as what we could be – because God restrains sin even in the sinner.
· Hitler and Stalin and Saddam Husain are visible examples of the sin that indwells us all! Left to our own devices we will descend to those levels and worse.
· Clearly no other conclusion that we can draw from this text – other than the fact that people are totally depraved.
SOCIETY AS WHOLE - OUTREACH
· As the Christian and the non-Christians look at the world, we see the same problem. The world is in downward spiral toward destruction. But the world denies the root cause:
· Poverty not the problem, poor education is not the problem, moral training is no the problem, racism and apartheid is not the problem, violence and crime is not the problem, unemployment is not the problem – those are merely symptoms of the problem.
· The root problem in every persons’ life and in every society is sin…. This principle of indwelling sin – total depravity.
· Problem won't be solbed by psychologists, who misdiagnose the very root of the problem and call everything a syndrome rather than a sin drome.
· Problem can't be solved by Engineers who can build them houses and design them nicer, faster cars.
· Problem can’t be helped by social workers, who can merely remedy the negative effects of sin
· Problem can't be solved by doctors – who can temporarily heal the body but they cannot cure the soul.
· Problem can't be solved by teachers and lecturers – who can only fill their minds with half truths and inaccurate facts tainted by sin
· Problem can't be solved by the police who can merely restrain the worst outbreaks of sin
· Problem can't be solved by politicians with their empty promises, social grants and motivational speeches.
· Problem can't be solved by reducing our carbon foot print.
You and I have to see this clearly – beause the world are putting forward all these things as a solution to our problems:
Paul’s central theme for the book of Romans is summarized in Rom 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
That is God's only solution to the problem
The only hope and help people have comes via Christians, from all walks of life, who fully and faithfully proclaim the gospel to them…
It’s a responsibility we dare not ignore.
That’s the charge what’s the evidence God summons to support His charge.
THE EVIDENCE: Our Words, Works and Worship (3:13-18)
Totally depraved internally – how it shows itself relationally. Our sin comes out in how we relate to other people and God in :
Quotes from scripture – God’s evaluation is what matters not our own. What God’s Word says about us, not what we say about ourselves.
· Throats, tongues, lips, mouths – all organs associated with speech
· Doesn’t use the worst possible sins as did earlier in chapter 1 because trying to emphasize that effects every single person
· Who has not sinned with their mouth?
The mouth the indicator of the heart
· James 3:2 “If anyone is never at fault in what he says he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check”
· Matthew 15:18 (ESV)
18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
The mouth is a good piece of evidence to use because we cannot see what is going on in the heart of a person, except by listening to what comes out of his heart via the mouth.
Quotes Ps 5:9: open grave; Ps 140:3. Venom - Ps 10:7; l8:7 cursing and bitterness.
· Full range of sinful speech is encompassed here : filthy language, deceit, hypocrisy, lying, bitterness, slander, hatred, complaining, ingratitude and blasphemy.
Application listen to your mouth for a day
Listen to all that say in a day – tells you what is going on in your heart
Not only do sin with our mouths, but in our actions.
The long history we have of wars, civil wars, murders, hatred, oppression – all evidence of the sinfulness which is in our heart and therefore the truthfulness of the accusation
Illustration: War museum
Incredible the amount of money, time, effort, brain power has gone into designing and constructing things intended to destroy other human beings.
Wherever you have people together you have fighting of some kind.
Scottish evangelist Robert Haldane wrote, “The most savage animals do not destroy so many of their own species to appease their hunger, as man destroys of his fellows’, to satiate his ambition, his revenge, or his cupidity [greed]” (An Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans)
Is 59:7-8Feet swift – go quickly to shed blood
VS 16 In the path where they tread is misery and destruction.
(destruction) is a compound word that denotes breaking in pieces and completely shattering, causing total devastation.
Misery is a general term that denotes the resulting harm that is always in the wake of man’s acts of destruction against his fellow man. His destructiveness inevitably leaves a trail of pain and despair
MASSIVE DESTROYING MACHINE!
Take no thought of God – practical atheists
Root error that gives rise to all the sins of humanity
Ps 36:1 “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.” Because men’s ears are attuned to the lies of sin rather than to the truth of righteousness, they have an inadequate concern about and no fear of God.
Do not take into account God’s holiness and God’s righteous judgment of sin.
Fear of God is what restrains sin (Pr 16:6) – but have no fear of God and no restraint on sin
The reality of indwelling sin is well summarized in this poem”
It is a debt, a burden, a thief, a sickness, a leprosy, a plague, poison, a serpent, a sting; everything that man hates it is; a load of curses, and calamities beneath whose crushing most intolerable pressure, the whole creation groaneth. …
Who is the hoary sexton that digs man a grave? Who is the painted temptress that steals his virtue? Who is the murderess that destroys his life? Who is this sorceress that first deceives, and then damns his soul?-Sin.
Who with icy breath, blights the fair blossoms of youth? Who breaks the hearts of parents? Who brings old men’s grey hairs with sorrow to the grave?-Sin.
Who, by a more hideous metamorphosis than Ovid even fancied, changes gentle children into vipers, tender mothers into monsters and their fathers into worse than Herod’s, the murderers of their own innocents?-Sin.
Who casts the apple of discord on household hearts? Who lights the torch of war, and bears it blazing over trembling lands? Who by divisions in the church, rends Christ’s seamless robe?-Sin.
Who is this Delilah that sings the Nazirite asleep and delivers up the strength of God into the hands of the uncircumcised? Who with winning smiles on her face, honey flattery on her tongue, stands in the door to offer the sacred rites of hospitality and when suspicion sleeps, treacherously pierces our temples with a nail? What fair siren is this who seated on a rock by the deadly pool smiles to deceive, sings to lure, kisses to betray, and flings her arm around our neck to leap with us into perdition?-Sin.
Who turns the soft and gentlest heart to stone? Who hurls reason from her lofty throne, and impels sinners, mad as Gadarene swine, down the precipice, into a lake of fire?-Sin. (Cited in Elon Foster’s New Cyclopedia of Prose Illustrations [New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1877], . 696)
THE VERDICT: Guilty as charged (3:19-20)
Sentenced pronounced (19b)
God revealed a standard of righteous conduct in the Scriptures in order to prove the guilt of every person
Why did God reveal the Law? To demonstrate to us, our guilt!
Purpose clause – purpose that every mouth might be stopped.
People have no case before God, no right to anything from Him.... We have nothing to say.
As if the God the righteous Judge sits there. Prosecution as brought their charge, summoned their witnesses, made their concluding statements.
Judge turns to the defence – do you have anything to say to thes charges?.....
· Our mouth is stopped.
· The case against us is overwhelming.
· The evidence is inescabable.
· We are guilty as charged, our sin is ever before us.
· We stand condemned and worthy of the eternal punishment of an all holy God!....
· We are sentenced to an eternity of conscious torment away from the prensence of God...
· As we are lead away, down the pathway toward our execution
· God, the righteous Judge, steps down from the judgment seat
· Takes off the royal robes and He lays them aside, putting on the garments of our humanity
· Descends down the stairs. From the position of highest authority, down, all the way down to the dungeon of our torture and humiliation.
· As we enter the chamber, we see Him there...
· The righteous Judge, our Judge, Our God. Dying our death, bearing our punishment, for our crimes
And we fall to our knees.... and we weep.... and we woship...
NOT to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name be the glory.