We are all born with a kind of moral compass, an intuition for right and wrong, called a conscience. We even have a desire for justice and accountability in this world. From our earliest memories, we have a desire for fairness. Yet, the world is not fair. And justice doesn’t reign. Unfortunately, our idea of justice tends to be more for everybody else, while we make excuses for our own sin, calling them mistakes, shortcomings, bad habits, etc. But rarely, sin.
Paul has something to say about God and human accountability. In Romans 3:1-20, the apostle Paul concluded that all humanity–– whether the pagan Gentile, the self- righteous moralist, or the outwardly religious–– all humanity is accountable unto God for their sin and therefore in desperate need of the gospel. We can be convinced that we are all accountable unto God for our sin and in desperate need of the gospel.
Below is an automated transcript of the message:
Thanks for listening to the podcast from gary combs and the preaching team at wilson community church in wilson, north carolina. Check us out on the web at wccnc.org for more and now here’s the sermon.
Good morning, church. i’m excited right now for a lot of reasons i just came from the new playground, so we just let all the kids out of children’s church to see the new playground, and we made a mistake. We first got them out there because i had in my head we’re going to circle and hold hands and pray, but then all of a sudden, there are i mean, like, ten, a more children head to the top level, and i can’t get up there, i don’t know how to get them down so someone will be up there after church. You’ll have to go get them parents yourselves No, really. I mean, they were so well behaved there, so your kids are so excited. And you know why we built this playground? We’ve waited twenty seven years when my children were small. They used to get in trouble for playing in the shrubs and stuff at the school we were renting, you know, like afterwards the custodian would come to me. His name was mr barnes. He’d say reverend your boy got in the shrubs again, kicked all the mulch out on the concrete. That would be my son jonathan who is preaching now at the rocky mount campus but at the time he was the boy he was talking about. The school didn’t have a playground. See, now what i would do is i’ll just throw them in there and shut the gate. It would be great, and now you can do that
I said to the kids today, we built this not only for you, but for the families throughout wilson county who have little kids, but they’re far from god. Those families are far from god and whatever we can do, whatever we can do that would draw them near so that they might have life change. this is not just for our kids, it’s for the kids of our community, so there won’t be a lock on the gate.. It will be for our community. There will be kids in the taco bell drive thru going mama what’s that and we’ll say to them you’re welcome you’re welcome you can go eat your tacos at our playground, so we’re excited about that.
Well, we’re in the book of Romans chapter 3 today starting at verse one, and we’re continuing this series that we’ve entitled righteousness revealed, and we get our theme from chapter one where paul tells us the reason that he wrote the book was because of the gospel, he says, i’m not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of god for salvation to everyone who believes to the jew first and also to the greek, for in it in the gospel, the righteousness of god is revealed from faith for faith as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith.
So paul introduces this wonderful topic and then he immediately in the next verse does a does a segway from chapter one verse eighteen all the way through the end of today. Chapter three, verse twenty where he goes now let’s talk about who needs this gospel and chapter one the latter part talks about how the gentile pagan who’s never heard the gospel needs the gospel, and then he talks about the self righteous moralist in the first part of chapter two and how moralism will not be enough. They need the gospel then last week the person who practices an outward religion definitely needs the gospel, and now we’re in chapter three and he’s going to conclude his movement of, of laying the foundation of who needs the gospel by summarizing it, saying, everyone needs the gospel, there is not one who will be made righteous before god, absent the gospel, you must have the gospel, you must believe the gospel in order to be made right with god and so that’s what paul has been working out and we’ll be with him today to conclude that segment, that logical progression of explaining who needs the gospel in this passage
i’m reminded as we look at it, that we’re all born with a kind of moral compass, we’re all born with a sense of right and wrong, and we call it a conscience and philosophers have tried to talk about where that comes from. The scientist cannot talk about it because it’s beyond the realm of science, it can’t be tested, but yet we all know it because we remember how we were when we were young, that we already had a sense of fairness. And if you’ve raised children, if you have children, you know that they know how to say that’s not fair. Like if you give one a piece of candy and the other two were standing there. That’s not fair, right? They do have a sense of fairness. They know right from wrong,
But here’s here’s the thing. And they know that there’s justice, or at least there should be justice, that people should get a spanking. My brother needs a spanking because he did x y or z. But here’s, the problem. We all want fairness. We all want justice. Except for when it’s applied to us that’s the, the sin result that’s in us. We have a sense of i want justice for you people. But i need mercy over here. I want you to get what you deserve. But i start making excuses for myself, right? That’s what we do and we oh, i didn’t mean, to do that, i was having a bad day. I should have said that, but we don’t want to say we did any wrong, we don’t want to admit that because we’ve got our reasons for why we did, but you don’t right that tends to be how we think.
Paul is going to demolish that way of thinking, he’s going to help us understand that sense of yeah, we want hitler to be judged. We want saddam judged we want osama judged, but we don’t want gary judged that’s that’s how we tend to think you know, the way we want justice, but and that’s how we all tend to think that way. Now paul has something to say about this as the holy spirit inspired him. He said that that every human, every man and woman will be accountable to god i’ve titled this this message god and human accountability and chapter three one through twenty paul concluded that whether you’re a pagan gentile, a self righteous moralist or an outward religious person, everyone in humanity is accountable to god for their sin and therefore in desperate need of the gospel.
So we can recognize that today we can recognize that we will give an account. We are all everyone of us accountable unto god , and therefore in desperate need of the gospel.
As we look at the text today we’ll see that the text gives us three reasons why we are all accountable under god, for our sins and in desperate need for the gospel. You ready, let’s read it Romans chapter 3:1 through 20 “Then what advantage has the jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of god. What if some were unfaithful does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of god by no means let god be true, though everyone were a liar, as it is written that you may be justified in your words and prevail when you are judged. But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of god, what shall we say? That god is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? I speak in a human way by no means for then how could god judge the world? But if, through my lie god’s, truth abounds to his glory, why am i still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come? as some people slanderously charge us with saying their condemnation is just what then? Are we jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all both jews and greeks are under sin as it is written. None is 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. 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. Their feet are swift to shed blood and their paths are ruin and misery and the way of peace they have not known there’s no fear of god before their eyes. Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law so that every mouth, may be stopped. And the whole world may be held accountable to god. For by works of the law, no human being will be justified in his sight since through the law comes knowledge of sin. This is god’s word.
three reasons why we’re all accountable to god and in desperate need of the gospel here’s the first reason, because we cannot accuse god of injustice, we can try it, but it will not stand up is what i mean by this statement. We won’t be able to stand before a holy god and accuse him of somehow being unjust towards us.
Notice that paul begins chapter three by really transitioning from his conversation and chapter to where he was talking to a primarily a jewish christian audience, jews who had become christians. And he has demolished judaism as an outward religion, as being helpful, or are helping make righteous. He says, it does not. Outward religion does not make you righteous.
And so then in chapter three he begins to have a conversation, and this is again called grecian literature. This is called a diatribe where he’s he’s got this fictitious person who’s, asking questions, and paul’s answering the questions that’s what’s going on right here and they are in four groups of two each. So there’s two questions, and answer two questions, but the two questions each time are in alignment. So it’s like a question and a follow up question. He does that four times in the first eight verses so’s four groups of two questions in each group. In each of these he’s answering what he is guessing would be our question.
And so the first one is well, if outward religion judaism is of no advantage and circumcision has no value, they are basically saying, if our outward religion and our practices have no values what’s the point, and he answers, and maybe we’re surprised but in verse two he says much in every way because no outward religion no outward, biblical religion is very helpful. It does give you an advantage that much in every way after all, what is the same verse too? After all you’ve been entrusted with the oracles of god? Word oracles interesting.
It has the sense of someone who has said the very words of god like a prophet, heard the word of god, and then said it aloud. So it’s not just a written down word, but it’s a a word spoken forth and you have it now the jews did. The jews had those thirty nine books right back here. But what do you have? What do i have? We have all sixty six. Is that an advantage? You better believe it. That’s an advantage. Now does that make you right with god that you have this now? No.
I had my name on the front of this bible and i’ve worn it out. You can barely see it right there. But having my name on there did not make it mine. Somebody gave it to me. My wife. I think i have to look in the front. I think my wife gave it to me, she’s not here right now, so i don’t have to get in trouble if you don’t tell. So we are tattletales, though, so i know she’ll hear. This is my bible. It’s gotta fade it out place here were my name’s on it, but i have the oracles of god. Now listen, americans, we in the western world have more access to the oracles of god than any generation who’s ever lived. Is that an advantage? You better believe it. But listen to what the implication of that might be.
Listen to what jesus says in Luke chapter 12 everyone to whom much is given from him. Much will be required. So does this advantage make it so that your right with god now paul’s not saying that this advantage actually makes you not less accountable. But more accountable because you have access there’s, the sense in which god will judge each one of us according to the light available. That seems to be the progression here to the pagan gentile. They have natural revelation. They have creation as their revelation which points to a creator and so god’s going to judge them according to their own failure to keep their own conscience.
But what about us? What about you? Do you know what he’s saying? Is there any advantage of being a jew but let’s change that? Is there any advantage to being on american who grew up with bibles that have our names on the front inscribed? You better believe it there’s an advantage. We have the oracles of god, it’s not alien to us, but it just makes us more accountable for the contents.
Here’s, the second group of questions. I think i probably leaned on that one enough verses three and four. Another group of two questions. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of god? And so what you are saying basically, is god faithful that’s the implication and from a jewish perspective? And you might say yet, but he gave us promises. He promised us some things, having a lot of promises hold like a whole book of promises back here if he doesn’t keep them he’s unfaithful does our unfaithfulness, and i get that we’re unfaithful. But does that mean god’s unfaithful? See the part, though, that they’re forgetting is he not only had promises there, but he had both pro and con promises he had promises that said, i’ll do this if but then he had the kind. But if you don’t do this, then i well, you know, and so they were forgetting just like we do today. They only remember the good stuff they forgot the part where god promised i’ll scatter you, i’ll bring, they forgot that the judgments of god, they only remember the promises and they’re trying to play a little mind game with god you think it’s possible to win that battle? They’re not finished, though.
Here in chapter three one through twenty. Paul is quoting the old testament like nobody’s business. I spent so much time running this stuff down. I’m like, wait , that sounds familiar. So, like he is quoting something right here because he says as it is written, right, let god be true, and everyone is a liar that sounds like something, too. So there’s two quotations right there, one from Psalm 16:11 then another one from Psalm 51:4 You see paul had been trained, like I playfully said this before, but the equivalent of jewish harvard under the great rabbi Gamaliel. And in order for Gamaliel even take him, he would have had to pass a test demonstrating that he had memorized the torah and much of the profits and the writings. And we see here that paul, through the urging of the holy spirit, is able to just string together like pearls, strings of quotations from the old testament.
So he says, are you saying that you make god a liar? So then just the fact that these are rhetorical questions they begged the negative response.
Then we have verses five and six, right? Verses five and six will see what he says are the third group of questions. But if our own righteousness serves to show the righteousness of god, what shall we say? That god is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us now this is an interesting argument. Well, the fact that we’re sinners doesn’t that make god look more righteous. And doesn’t that mean that’s? A good thing. Now, i don’t think i would have, like, in all my years trying to argue with my mom. I never came up with that one that’s, a pretty good one right there. Hey, mom, doesn’t that make you look like a good mom, that i’m such a bad kid? That would have got me spanked twice, and i’m thinking maybe that’s what’s going to happen to that question? That question right there like this is a logic tree if you will , that paul’s breaking down the way they’re thinking
and they carry it to an extreme here in their fourth group of questions as they get down to verses seven and eight that this is the final of the four groups of questions where paul has this imaginary question that he’s engaging in seven and eight he says this but if through my lie god’s truth abounds to his glory, why am i still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come well, he’s just doubling down on the previous one. He’s going my line makes him look more truthful and my evil makes him look good, just doubling down on that. And apparently some jews had been accusing paul of that because of that, paul was teaching that because it says as some people slanderously charge in verse eight us with saying so apparently somewhere i know where they were getting this they were saying, because paul is saying the law will not save you because you can’t keep it. And so they were accusing him of being an antigoni which means anti against the laws that they were saying, paul is against the law, he’s, not against the law, he’s, just rightly understanding the law saying the law can’t save you, but they were accusing him. What you are trying to say, then, if we were just, you know, since grace alone saves you just, like, be as bad as you can be, wouldn’t that give you more grace, he’s gonna work harder on this in chapter six of romans, by the way, he’s going to give more details on this, but here it just seems like he’s kind of summarizing.
And so we see these questions i found in my observation that often people ask questions like these as a way of distraction. You understand what i’m saying? A way of deflection of their defense is no defense. They have no defense. So they deflect by getting you to answer questions.
When i was in college, i first started noticing this, but throughout my ministry, i’ve noticed this if you’re talking to someone who claims to be a skeptic, they have lots of questions and with a smile kind of a little quirky smile on their face, they will begin their assault of questions they’ll be in the position of the questioner, and they put you as a believer in the position of trying to answer all their questions and you get the sense almost like, okay, let me try to answer that. Well, let me try to answer that and every phrase is followed by i got another question for you like every answer you give him instead of engaging with the answer, they go next. I got another question, i got another question, and and i’ve noticed it that’s what skeptics do they ask questions? Not really interested so much in answers because they’re skeptical about everything and really it’s a deflection it’s a distraction and they maybe think that somehow they can get by with that here they can get by with that with your eye, because we can’t answer all their questions. What about the native who never heard? Well, god’s, a good god, why’re there starving children? Why did that hurricane come? And they just ask question after question, questioning the righteousness of god. Questioning the justice of god, questioning the goodness of god. Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Sometimes i’ll ask a question back. If i were able to answer all of your questions to your satisfaction, would you be ready to commit your life to christ? Invariably I have had that person go no, because i can’t imagine you answering all my questions on and that’s when i know it’s, not about the questions it’s about the, state of the heart maybe that’s you this morning. Maybe you’re sitting there going, but i got questions. No, you don’t, not really. You really know what you have are excuses with question marks at the end. You’re not, you’re not really hoping that those questions will be answered for you to stand before a holy god. Your questions will be shattered . You’ll have no questions.
Look, i’m going to touch on this early, but i want to touch on it again later. Look down there at verse nineteen. Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under law so that every mouth may be stopped that’s a picture of a courtroom scene before god, you’ll have no questions. At that point. You be silent when god plays what francis schaeffer calls the invisible tape recorder what we would probably say is more like the the smart phone video, the instagram video, whatever god plays right, whenever you see that you’ll have no questions, you’ll have no defense, your mouth will be stopped, you’ll be like he knows it all. He sees it all
Romans chapter 9 what shall we say then? Is there injustice on god’s part by no means? Moses writes. And Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the rock. His deeds are perfect.Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful god who does no wrong. How just and upright he is.
My friend, some of you might have valid questions, but i’ve rarely encountered someone who does. it’s usually a smokescreen, because you have a favorite sin that you don’t want to quit sinning. Favorite thing. You don’t want to give up it’s often the case. The questions are smoke screens for favorite love or desire, or something that you feel like following christ would cause you to let go. So that’s the first reason why we all humans are accountable to god.
Here’s, the second, because we cannot deny our bondage, understand, because we cannot deny our bondage. Understand where, verses nine to eighteen. Now we’ve unpacked one through eight. Now we’re going to talk about nine through eighteen, he begins it with his own question. What then? Okay, so he’s answered those four groups of questions, and he goes, what then? Are we jews any better off? No, it almost sounds like he can’t make up his mind. Do we have any advantage? Yeah. You have a great advantage. Well, what does that mean? Does that mean that you are the Jews ? Better off as a result? No. You have great advantage because you have the oracles of god. But you’re not any better off because you don’t do it. You can’t do the oracles of god because the are beyond you. But you haven’t believed in the one that the oracle’s pointed to, namely the messiah, jesus christ and the jews as a people rejected him. Now the jews, all the first century believers were chosen. So a remnant believed him. The disciples were all jewish. The first apostles were all jewish. But judaism as a whole rejected him.
I was watching a video that i saw on facebook they’re showing testimonies of jewish people who have placed their faith in jesus. This young woman was living in london, and she was talking about how she moved there in order to be a rocker she wanted, you know she wanted to be with at the time. Led zeppelin drew her to that area she wanted to be part of that scene and she was a vocalist and got caught up in it and just felt so lonely. She came to this place where a friend kept talking to her about jesus. And she was toying with the drug culture and some other things. And she was feeling really lonely. And when she read the old testament, it just scared her because she couldn’t understand how she could love god because he seemed judgmental. And he seemed so beyond her. And then a friend who was a believer started talking to her about jesus and here’s what she said she said, you can be an atheist. you could be an agnostic jew. You can be reformed you y could be a liberal jew. You could be a democrat. You could be a republican but you can no longer be a jew if you believe in jesus. That’s what she was taught you can be a jew, and nothing will negate that accept believing in jesus. He came for them, first to the jew, then to the gentiles. But this is the satanic lie that somehow you stop being jewish if you believe in jesus. But the truth of the matter is believing in Jesus actually makes the jew more jewish than they could ever imagine. When she finally embraced jesus and she started reading the new testament, she would. She was like, this is the most jewish book i ever read. She completely recognized. Jesus is a jew. Nobody told me jesus was a jew. And so she was not better off as being a jew, but now she is better off, because she believes in jesus.
Are you with me, understand what we’re talking about now he has a phrase here in verse nine for we have already charged that all, how many of you here in the room, you’re included in the word all i am, i’m under the all word. Are you Yeah, some of you are. Understand, jews and gentiles did marry, don’t marry. All of you are understand what what a strange saying, understand, what does that mean? It has the implication, like we’re under restraints, like sin is the king of our world, we’re under it in such a way that we can’t get out from under it. So we’re in bondage to it, but not only that we’re under its control, and not only that, even in the present day, we don’t even have to wait for judgment day. Sin is already having its effect on it, because on us, because of sin and suffering. all of creation groans. Because sin has introduced suffering into god’s good world. So we understand, regardless of who we are,
tim keller says. To be under sin and to be unrighteous are similar to be unrighteous, he says, is a positional term. It means when we stand before god, we will be found not right with him we will be found unrighteous without christ, whereas under sin, is more of a legal term, as if we’re citizens of the realm of sin and so he says this, he says it’s as if we have a spiritual passport. I don’t know if you have a passport. If you want to travel on our mission trips in two thousand nineteen, you’ll need a passport if we go overseas, and when you have that american passport, you can go almost anywhere that blue passport is the most powerful passport anybody shows, but there’s one more powerful than that and that’s your spiritual passport and in their leaders, say, keller imagines, under sin or under grace what that’s the two yeah. What about you are you under sin? Are you still under sin? Under sin’s control under sin’s rain under the results of what sin does to your life, or under grace under forgiveness?
He says, as it is written in verse ten. And then in eleven through eighteen, he goes, let me take you on a journey through the old testament and convince you that you’re lost and you are under sin without christ. And he goes through seven quotations from the old testament , stringing them together like a string of pearls. It’s. A devastating seven part analysis, like a doctor’s visit, where he puts us under a kind of ct scan. And he looks inside of our hearts, and he says, take a look at this. This is what the human condition is really like. First of all, he speaks to our legal standing. None is righteous. No, not one. How you are with christ, you can not stand before a holy god , not one of you, not one of us. We’re all guilty.
Then he talks about the so that’s our legal standing in verse eleven. He talks about our minds, how it’s affected our minds and he goes, no one understands, no one seeks god, you don’t understand. Not without christ, your mind has been darkened. We have already read that in chapter one, claiming to be wise, they became fools in Romans 1:22 our motives are exposed. No one seeks for god, he’s, quoting Psalm 14 no one seeks God now.
Wait a minute here. I’m not sure, that’s true, i’ve met people that seemed to be seeking for God. Check it out now what i’ve noticed. This has happened so many times. Twenty seven years of ministry. Someone makes an appointment. They check every box on the card. That connection card, they check every box. They make an appointment to come see one of the pastors. Maybe they come to see me and they’re useless that you usually are going through a d day. Death, divorce, disease, displacement. Something is troubling them. It’s moved them to the point where they must go see the preacher and they say to me “pray for me. I just need god in my life. I’m seeking for god.” i can’t see their hearts. I pray with them and then they get their wife back or the person gets healed. the thing we prayed for happens. And then they disappear. We never see them again. Were they seeking god? No. They were seeking the blessings of god. They were seeking that their prayers will be answered. They were not seeking god. Why is that? Because absent christ in us, no one seeks for god.
What did Adam and eve do when they first sinned? Did they go looking for god? God, where are you? We messed up, god help us, no, what do they do? They ran, and they hid , and they covered their nakedness, and god went looking for them.
Who does the seeking? God does the seeking. god’s looking for you. I’m glad god found me. Has he found you he’s looking for you and the only sense that you looked that you, if you are seeking god today, i mean, truly seeking him. That means he’s already found you and that’s. Why you’re seeking the one true god, you’re not seeking his hands, his blessings, you’re seeking in his face and his heart and the reason you are, because he’s found you he’s calling you. So our motives are exposed,
in verse twelve our wills are exposed in verse twelve, it says, all have turned aside together, they’ve become worthless. No one does good, not even one turned to side means chosen their own way. In other words, it’s, a willful thing to be under since we’ve chosen, i will do this myself. God, i need you only when i’m in trouble. Otherwise i got this .
Our wills are under sin verses thirteen and fourteen. Our tongues are under sin. The 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. He’s quoting Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3 and Psalm 10:7. He threw three psalms in there to get that out, because your mouths are full of venom. Your breath smells so bad. It’s, like somebody opened up a grave. The stench of your words. There’s no mouthwash going to fix that.
Boy, i would say that our verbal culture today is as cursed as it’s ever been? Maybe every generation says that i’m sixty years old now, and i’ve been alive that long, and I hear words now coming out of kids that i would have been astounded to hear out of a sailor, a military man a few years ago. I mean, on the tv, everywhere , in the music, we don’t have to deny that we know that.
and then our relationship with others, in verses fifteen through seventeen their feet are swift to shed blood in their paths are ruin and misery and the way of peace they have not known. In other words, we’re under sins reign in the way we treat each other. That’s pretty obvious. We’re killing each other. We’re stealing from each other. We do not love our neighbor as ourselves.
then number seventh accusation this seventh, and once again, i would just bring you to what paul’s doing right here, he has put us under the x ray machine. he’s put us in the most powerful spiritual ct scan. These examine our motives, our will, our tongues, our minds. And
then, finally, he scans for love, because if you don’t love each other, you try to kill each other,
and then his final conversation is about our love for god . Verse eighteen. His final accusation. there is no fear of god before their eyes. You don’t worship god. This is a devastating diagnosis. Sins, disease. You’re in stage four. You will die without christ.
Jesus said, i tell you the truth in John chapter 8 everyone who sins is a slave of sin. If you sin and you don’t have christ you are understand sins control. Apart from the gospel we are under the sin the reign of sin
Romans chapter 6 gives us an instruction that with christ, he says, let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to god, as those who have been brought from death to life and your members to god as instruments for righteousness for sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
take a look at your spiritual passport right now, just like for a minute. Are you under sin or under grace, if you’re under grace, sin has no dominion over you, but will you still sin? Yeah, because we’re still in this world, but you’re forgiven and you are made righteous in christ and you don’t want to sin. You don’t want to ask questions like, well, if i send some orders that make grace increase no, you would never ask that because the cost of what christ paid for you is too great.
So then we have the third reason. Are you ready for the third reason? Two more verses because we cannot earn our own salvation, we cannot earn our own salvation, verses nineteen and twenty circle the word accountable. You see it in verse nineteen, how many people will be accountable? According to verse nineteen, the whole world, all humanity and the whole world will be held accountable to god. The word accountable literally means under judgment. The idea is, he’s not waiting to find you guilty, he’s already counted you guilty. You’re already guilty, like jesus says , and when he’s talking to nicodemus back there in John chapter, 3 he gives you’re already under condemnation. But i did not come to condemn you, I came to set you free.
Roman’s fourteen says so then each of us will give an account of himself to god. There’ll be no avoiding this. Your questions, we make no sense at that point, you’ll forget all your questions your claims of being well, i’ve been better than him. That won’t be good enough because to him that he will compare you to his christ is your righteousness as of christ now you’re not righteous and then but i worked hard. I tried to be good; that’s the favorite answer. And wilson, north carolina. You go door to door around here, knock on doors and ask people if you were to stand before a holy god or if you die in your sleep tonight and you stood before a holy god. What would you say if god said to you, why should i let you into my kingdom ? What would you say? Well, I tried to be good. I mean, here we are in the middle of the bible belt. That’s what people say because somehow they are confused. You can not be good enough. And if that’s the basis, you’ll be in trouble
notice in nineteen and twenty, he brings up the word law he mentions it four times. He hasn’t said anything about the law until just now, but now he does. Four times, he actually gets four attributes of the law. First attribute is the law speaks in verse nineteen. We know that. Whatever the law says, it speaks. The law speaks, it basically tells you no one is righteous. We just read the law we have read a whole bunch of quotations up there, the law silences those who are under verse nineteen so that every mouth may be stopped, because once you compare your life once the holy video starts playing and you stand before a holy god, i’m just trying to visualize what that’s like i don’t know , he said. The bible actually says the books will be opened because that was the technology of the day, right?
i told you, francis schaeffer came up with the invisible tape recorder well now that’s old news now, like so whatever god does, your mouth will be stopped, you won’t have a next you won’t say a word, and and you’ll know that you’re accountable because he will be made just before you and you’ll say you’re right, you got me. I’ve done all those things, i have thought, all of those things. so every mouth will be stopped, the law silences those the law is impossible for us to keep
Look at verse twenty for by works of the law, no human will be justified. You can’t keep it so if being good you’re playing, you’re in trouble. You can’t be good enough. I’ve taught this before, back when we went through the book of galatians it’s worth a quick glance, the three r’s of the law or if you prefer the three p’s here’s the first are the three r’s of the law.
The law is meant to reflect our guilty condition. It’s like a perfect mirror. You look at the law and it says you’re a sinner so one of the purposes of the law is to let you know you are a sinner.
here’s a second purpose to restrain our sinful behavior. Like a prison guard says here are the guard rails and because of fear some of us go you know what i shouldn’t do that so the law does have an effect of of restraining sinful behavior.
And then finally the law rightly reveals our need for a saviour like a pedagogue like a teacher had. To reach for that, p reveals their need for a savior so the law is good and useful, but not for salvation. Law’s good, but it can’t save you.
And then number four here’s, the fourth feature of the law in verse twenty since through the law comes knowledge of sin. What we just said that it reflects our guilty condition. It shows in Ephesians chapter two says this for by grace you’ve been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing. It is the gift of god, not a result of works, so that no one should boast you can’t work your way to heaven. You won’t be able to do it. You will not be able to save yourself by good works.
Paul gives three reasons why every human will be accountable before god. absent knowing jesus not one of us will have a question, not one of us. We won’t be able to deny our sin. Not one of us will have works that are good enough absent christ we need jesus, we need christ without christ, we’re in trouble. I would say perhaps this third one is the most troubling why? Because we’re in the bible belt. People really are still confused. They think if they’re being good, that’ll be good enough, and it won’t, because trying to be good actually gives you such a sense of well , i’m right with god, that it causes you to be inoculated against the gospel, and maybe more than being a skeptic, maybe more than being deep in sin, maybe just thinking you’re good enough, you’re hanging on to the things so you won’t receive jesus.
i found this quote from john gerstner writing in this book called theology for every man and i want you to hear this. He says, the way to god is wide open. There is nothing standing between the sinner and his god. He has immediate and unimpeded access to the savior. There is nothing to hinder. No sin can hold you back because god offers justification to the ungodly. Nothing now stands between the sinner and god, but the sinner’s good works what nothing can keep him from christ but his delusions, that he has good works of his own, that can satisfy god, all they need is need. All they must have is nothing but, alas, sinners cannot part with their so called virtues. They have none that are not imaginary, but the are real to them. So grace becomes unreal, the real grace of god they spurn in order to hold onto the illusory virtues of their own. Their eyes were fixed on a mirage so that they will not drink real water. They die of thirst with water all about them.
Are you thirsty today? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst, jesus said, why are they blessed? Because that’s the beginning of knowing christ, you have to admit that you’re spiritually thirsty, but if you think i’m not thirsty, you’re lost. But if you’re spiritually thirsty, he says, come and drink you understand this? You must admit that your good works are not good enough. You must come to the place where you would admit your need or as the old preacher used to say, when i was growing up and very simple but direct language, you must admit you’re lost before you can be saved. Will you admit that you’re thirsty? Anyone jesus says, who believes in me may come and drink and find eternal life?
Let’s pray lord, as we come to this transition now in the book of romans, where next week we’ll be talking again about the gospel we’ve been going over this difficult terrain. And now today we hear the most devastating news of all, that all of us are accountable to god unless we have christ as our sacrifice for our sins. As heir. Sovereign, who releases us from the dominion of sin as our advisor. And as our attorney who stands before us is that one belongs to me. If we have him, we have all but we must first admit that we’re sinner that we are lost, that our good works are not good enough. And then we may come and receive. We must say i’m thirsty before we can drink. Do you admit that today, right where you are? Right in your seat. Would you say i’m thirsty? I need jesus. Not for what he can give me. Not not for blessings, but because i recognize i need him in order to stand before a holy god. I want to be right with god. Yes, there are blessings but my motive is i’m thirsty. You come and drink right now. How do you do that? Believe praying. Dear lord jesus, i’m a sinner. My works are not good enough. Christ, your works are acceptable to god. I believe you died on the cross for my sins that you were raised from the grave, that you live today. Come and live in me. Make me the person you want me to be. I want to be a child of god praying that prayer, right? Now, right where you are, he will make you a child of god, righteous before god under grace and no longer under sin. And then, for those of us who believe recognizing that the whole world is accountable under god, may we, with greater intensity and urgency, share the gospel with all that we come into contact with. May it be so. We renew our commitment to do that in jesus name. Amen.