Monday, November 27, 2006

Romans 3:13-18

"Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit" [Psalm 5:9]. "The poison of vipers is on their lips" [Psalm 140:3]. "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness" [Psalm 10:7]. "Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know" [Isaiah 59:7,8]. "There is no fear of God before their eyes" [Psalm 36:1].

Our condition is in our speech. Paul in v.13-14 says that our sinfulness is declared by the words we speak. We lie; we curse; we deceive; and we do it with our mouths, and it comes from our hearts. Matthew 12:34; 15:18; Luke 6:45. These verses declare that the mouth speaks what the heart feels. And who would deny that? James 3:8-12 shows the power of the tongue, which blesses God and curses man; that should not be! Cross-reference Romans 10:8-10 with 1 Corinthians 12:3. The change that occurs when the Spirit makes us willing to believe is a heart change, and it affects what we say with our mouths.

Our condition is in our behavior. Paul in v.15-17 explains that our sinful state is proven by our deeds. It’s in our hearts, our mouths, and our feet. Our actions are simply the outworking of the thoughts of the heart and the words of the mouth. And they’re sinful. Our actions are unworthy. Even our civil good deeds are done with false motives. Our good deeds are like filthy rags. We have no good in us. And that is proven by what we do. Romans 14:23 “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” No “good deeds” are done by unbelievers. Do you agree?

Our condition is seen in our impiety. Paul in v.18 wraps it up here, explaining with force that there is no fear of God before our eyes (the eyes of unbelievers). The Old Testament teaches us that the beginning of the knowledge of the Lord is the fear of God. There is no knowledge of the Lord apart from the fear of God. To fear God is reverence and awe, having Him as your prime goal, for Him to be the One that you care about more than anybody else in the world, for His approval to be all that matters, for His will to be what you really want, regardless of what that is, to have God at the very center of your thoughts, the center of your actions, and the center of your desires. And Paul says that none of us, as unbelievers, fear God in this way.

Sure, we may have feared judgment, but we certainly didn’t understand it. We were impious and ungodly, just as all unbelievers are. So having demonstrated from our impiety, from our deeds, from our words, and from our hearts how sinful mankind is, Paul has set us up to embrace the only way out of this mess—Jesus Christ. And those of us who are already saved can better appreciate God and what He has done to save us from the power of sin. We can rejoice in the good news that there is righteousness that reconciles us to God that comes from outside of us. We don’t produce it or even contribute to it, all we do is receive it and rest on it by faith. That is the greatest news ever heard.

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