Friday, November 17, 2006

Romans 3:9

What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.

All are under sin. Paul comes now to his closing argument. He made it clear that the Gentiles were under condemnation and in need of God’s saving grace with chapter 1:18-32. He said the same thing about the Jews in chapter 2, overcoming four misunderstandings about: the law, the national election of Israel, the purpose or the will of God for the Jews, and the covenant sign of circumcision. The Jews put forth these arguments trying to avoid the gospel. Then with verses 1-8 of chapter 3, Paul refuted four more objections to his gospel (questioning the benefits of being a Jew, questioning God’s faithfulness in judging the Jews who turned away, questioning God’s righteous judgment presuming He is glorified by sin, and ridiculously presuming that more sin would be best since it would glorify God more). Now Paul, if he hasn’t made his point yet (which he has, as he says, “we have already made the charge”), he does so in the following verses. He doesn’t beat-around-the-bush, trying to woo the people to like him or his position. He tells the people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. And he speaks the truth in love; he loves people and wants all to be saved. He says everybody is “under sin.”

Sin is mainly a condition of rebellion against God. This is why it is so sad and pointless when people argue that they are pretty good people and don’t need the Gospel. What they mean is that they treat other people decently: they don’t steal, kill, lie or swear too much, and, oh yeah, they give money to some charities. But that is not the main question. The main question is: Do they love God with all their heart and soul and mind and strength? Do they love His Son, Jesus Christ? Is God the most important Person? It is not virtuous to do nice things for people while having no love or reverence or passion for God. Sin is, first and foremost, a resistance to God. And that resistance results in a darkened mind that then suppresses the truth and does not understand God. So the person “under sin” does not seek God and does not know God and does not fear God.

One of the most important truths to hold up in the world is that all human beings, even though created in God’s image, are corrupted by the power of sin. We are not morally good by nature. We are by nature morally bad. In Ephesians 2:3, Paul says we are all “by nature children of wrath.” The attitudes and thoughts and actions that deserve the wrath of God come from us in and by our nature. We see it again from Paul in Colossians 3:5-7. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming [against the sons of disobedience]. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.” Plain and simply put, we are by nature sinful. Sin is like a master or a king, and it reigns over us and in us. Not that it coerces us to do what we don’t want to do, but it makes us want to do what we ought not to do. We are not innocent victims of sin. We are co-conspirators with sin against God. Next week, we'll see Paul’s point through his quoting of six Old Testament passages.

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