Friday, June 13, 2014

FOR ALL HAVE SINNED (Romans Chapter 3)

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

In his book “The Total Depravity of Man,” A. W. Pink wrote, “That something is radically wrong with the world of mankind requires no labored argument to demonstrate.  That such has been the case in all generations is plain from the annals of history…But when we come to inquire exactly what is wrong with man, and how he came to be in such a condition, unless we turn to God’s inspired Word no convincing answers are forthcoming.  Apart from that divine revelation no sure and satisfactory reply can be made to such questions as these: What is the source of the unmistakable imperfections of human nature?  What will furnish an adequate explanation of all the evils which infest man’s present state?  Why is it that none is able to keep God’s law perfectly or do anything which is acceptable to Him while in a state of nature?”

In Romans 3:9-18 we find Paul’s explanation regarding the source of man’s troubles.  Using quotes from Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah, Paul speaks from God’s perspective of man’s radical depravity.  Most suppose man to be basically good, but that’s not what God’s word says.

The words “none” and “no one” are repeatedly used, emphasizing the universal nature of man’s plight.  Man is a sinner four different ways—by nature, by word, by deed, by attitude--as J. Vernon McGee liked to say, “God is giving men four strikes, even though in baseball you only get three.”

Romans 3:10-12, “There is none righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  The passage speaks to the innate sinfulness of every human being.  He is not righteous and does not seek for God.  In sin he has become useless to the Creator.  He does not do good (at least not in a God-glorifying sense).

Romans 3:13-14, “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.  The venom of asps is under their lips.  Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”  Man is sinful in his words, his throat likened to an open grave, his lips to the hidden abode of a venomous tongue, and his mouth to a fountain of curses (Cf. James 3:1-12; Ephesians 4:29).

Romans 3:15-17, “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”  In his book "Lessons from History" Will Durant notes that "in the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war."  And even in the absence of war man still does not live in peace.  Adam and Even sinned.  Cain killed Abel.  Man’s been walking down a violence-filled path ever since.

Romans 3:18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  This quote from Psalm 36:1 speaks to the root cause of man’s problem.  Dismissing God’s relevance, man does as he pleases. 

Man is not basically good, he is radically depraved.  He is, by nature, “aliened and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21).  Romans 3:23 serves as an apt summary of man’s depraved condition.  All have sinned—in thought, words, and deeds--and have fallen short of God’s glory.  We’ve sinned, not as a result of their environmental conditioning, but because that is who we are by nature in Adam (Cf. Romans 5:12).  Man is radically depraved and as a result is utterly helpless to do anything to rectify his lost condition (Cf. Ephesians 2:1).  Salvation must therefore come from an outside source. 

Anyone who tries to make it to heaven by his own good works is, in fact, attempting the impossible.  J. Vernon McGee once spoke of what he called "the game of jumping to Catalina Island."  Of course, it's ridiculous to think that anyone could jump the 25 miles from the Santa Monica pier to Catalina Island.  The one who leaps the farthest gets just as wet as the person who barely clears the end of the pier.  But McGee was making a point.  In his unique homespun way he said, "Now, up to the present, nobody has made it....I see some people that I'm sure could out jump me.  But I'll tell you this,..(they) won't make Catalina.  All come short."  He was demonstrating the absurdity of thinking that man, being radically depraved as he is, could ever get to heaven by his own efforts.  The Bible says in Romans 3:10, "There is none righteous, no, not one."  McGee concluded, "For that reason, you and I today need His redemption" (Cf. Romans 3:21f).

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