THE GUILT OF ALL MANKIND
What is the one thing people need to hear before you
can give them the good news of the Gospel?
That they are a sinner who has violated God’s holy law and they stand guilty and condemned for their sinful disposition. I realize this isn’t how you start a conversation with someone, but they need hear this before they can hear good news. People need to know why they need the good news, before they can receive the good news. Paul in this chapter exposures all us to our natural disposition. A disposition the culture would argue against Paul, because the culture sees itself as good and others as bad. A culture in any age, who loves theirs sin and hates to be told they are sinners. We live in a world of affirmations, acceptance, and participation trophies; that prefer: likes, shares, happy faces, over dislikes or angry comments.
No likes to be told they are bad! But can I say! You’re not only bad; you’re wretched, as Paul saw himself apart from the holiness of God. Paul said “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Rom 7:24-25. Nothing unholy can stand and live in the presence of God. That was demonstrated with Uzzah when he tried to keep the Ark from hitting the ground. (2 Sam 6:1-7) See! The doctrine of total depravity is hard for the human race to accept. We tend to treat our sin as a little thing, or nothing at all, by what Paul says (v18) “There is no fear of God before their eyes” How you I see sin; is not seen in the same way with those outside, and even sometimes in the church. We downplay sin and rationalize it to fit our way of thinking or living, or to excuse our bad behavior.
Sin is deceitful….. “but exhort one another daily, while it is called "TODAY," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb 3:13
Sin is dehumanizing…… sin dismantles relationships and corrupts the human soul. The less we bear the image of God due to the presence of sin, the less human we really are.
Sin is damning….. the greatest threat to the soul is sin. Sin threatens the eternal soul of the unsaved. Sin leads to death and judgement and eternal punishment in Hell.
In Mark’s Gospel Jesus uses some graphic illustrations about how serious we are to take our sin. “…If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.'” And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' Mark 9:42-48
Hell is a final destination and it involves both pain and eternal punishment. Sin and evil cannot be domesticated as we try with our pets, sin poises to attack your faith at all cost.
“the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the
Spirit against the flesh” Gal 5:17
This is where we need to take sin seriously! Not only privately in the closet of our own hearts, but corporately as well, we fight this battle together. That’s how severe sin is in the life of a person. But we tend to treat it like it’s no big deal, or that God will get over it. Paul in this text puts our natural sinful condition on the table for all to see, in the courtroom of the Just Judge.
1. Paul Puts Humanity On Trial As We All Stand Before The Just Judge. (v9-v20)
Everyone stands in the courtroom and Paul declares that all are guilty. The Bible declares that we are wicked; condemned; lost; lovers of self; haters of God; depraved; insolent; accursed. The Bible says we deserve death; judgement; eternal punishment; the wrath of God.
Paul affirms here what he has already said about mankind. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Rom 1:18-20
Paul describes how no one is righteous before God, thus showing us our desperate need for salvation in Christ Jesus. Paul again uses the Old Testament to stop the mouths of his Jewish brother and sisters. (v10-v18). Paul quotes heavily on Psalms, because there is so much of the gospel in the Psalms.
Paul reveals in these verses that sin has affected every part of us from our mind, our emotions, conscience, behavior and speech. This was my resume before the Gospel transformed my heart by His benevolent grace. Understand Paul is not denying “common grace” because lost and unrepentant sinners, can, and do, some amazing things as “imago dei”. From LeBron to Elon Musk, to your next door neighbor But! Apart from God’s redemption, every single person is unrighteous. And Paul declares us all guilty, which means no one is acceptable to God based on work.
D. G. Barnhouse said in his commentary on Romans, “It must not be thought that an ordinary man is just a little better than a bad man, a good man a little better than an ordinary man, and God still better than the good man. Human righteousness is unrighteousness with God. The only goodness He knows is that which proceeds from Himself. The only righteousness which He can accept is that which He has provided in Christ. Between the righteousness of man, and the righteousness of God there is a great gulf fixed, and that gulf has been bridged only by the Savior."
See! It doesn’t matter if you won a Championship, have your own rocket to go to Mars, or a neighbor who cuts your grass and delivers you a hot meal. Paul quotes the opening part here with Psalm 14:1-3 “The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
Paul exposes the natural disposition
of mankind Character, Conversation & Conduct.
The Character of the Guilty
“None Is Righteous” No one is in right standing before God; there is not one single person who has ever lived could be characterized by righteousness, apart from the work of Christ, in one’s life. The righteousness that God requires is perfection and that is only made possible through Jesus Christ. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Cor 5:21
“No One Understands” Even if we had the ability to achieve perfection we wouldn’t know how to do, find, or use it, because we have no spiritual capacity to know or understand God. Sin makes it impossible. We know this true because Paul said “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.” 1 Cor 2:14
“No One Seeks After God” Humanity is marked by ungodliness, and humanity by nature attempts to suppress the truth about God, but in the end they will declare “He is Lord” as God Judges them into hell for all eternity because of their ungodliness.
“All Have Turned Aside, Worthless, No One Does Good, Not Even One.” “Turn aside” means “To go the wrong way”. The natural man or woman will go his or her own way. Our selfish sin-filled disposition will always choose the opposite direction, we will choose the wrong way. Prov 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” We are naturally rebellious, ask any parent! And due to our sinfulness and wrong choices we are “worthless or useless” by God’s holy standard, apart from Christ. All our goodness done in the flesh is counted as worthless. “….apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” John 15:4-6
The Conversation of the Guilty.
“Their Throat Is An Open Grave; They Use Their Tongue To Deceive” A spiritually dead heart can only generate spiritually dead words. We bury and cover the deceased, out of respect, but also to protect people from seeing a decomposed and smelly, rotting corpse. For the natural man he or she keep their grave open for the world to see, hear, and smell. It’s nothing more than a rotting corpse from the spiritual dead.
“The Venom Of Asp Is Under Their Lips.” “Their Mouth Is Full Of Curses And Bitterness.” “Asp” are the fangs of a deadly snake” their something that lie folded in the back of the upper jaw, and when a snake throws its head to strike, these hollow fangs drop down, and when they bite down they release a poison into their victim. Our sinful untamable nature, lashes out with anger like a snake, desiring the worst for a person and a desire to publically make it known through criticism and insults. Its hostility against their enemy or anyone who stands against them. This bitterness regards to physical taste as to describe openly-expressed emotional hostility against someone.
The Conduct of the Guilty.
“Their Feet Are Swift To Shed Blood;” The violence of mankind’s heart is revealed and expressed through violent acts of murder. Prime example is the first homicide ‘Cain killing his brother Abel in cold blood.”
Robert Haldane, a Scottish theologian of the 1800’s said this about mankind. “The most savage animals do not destroy so many of their own species to appease their hunger, as man destroys of his fellows, to satisfy his ambitions, his revenge or his greed.”
“In Their Path Are Ruin And Misery; And The Ways Of Peace They Have Not Known” Sin will always leave a path of pain, hurt and heartache and sometimes destruction. We live in a society where the world cries “Peace, Peace” but Jeremiah said “Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.” Jer 6:14. This world seeks after a temporal peace to fill a void that will never satisfy and it only reveals judgment in the end. “While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” 1 Thess 5:3. The world lives in a self-absorbed peace thinking this is all they need. But in the end it brings destruction.
And the end result to mankind’s Character, Conversation and Conduct is what?
“There Is No Fear Of God Before Their Eyes.” There is a positive and negative fear of God. The positive fear of God is here this morning. As we worship and open His precious Word. We stand in reverential fear of His Awesomeness and glory. The negative fear of God has to do with dread, and terror. “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.” Prov 16:6. As God’s children we are subject to His chastisement, sometime it can be sever as He did with Ananias and Sapphira. We as His children live out of a holy reverential fear of God, and we are aware that God will correct us, through it might be painful at times. But for the unbeliever this fear should be in tensed to highest degree because they are storing up God’s wrath. Sadly! They do not fear or tremble at the name of God, or being in the presence of God. Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed because of their utter wickedness and immorality. It was a horrible scene, so horrible…. Lot and his family were told not to look back as they left this wicked city. Many live their lives looking back and living with zero fear of God or their sinful disposition. Even some in the church acknowledge there is a God and say they serve and fear Him, but care little over their sinful behavior. It astonishing that men, while they acknowledge that there is a God, should act without fear of His displeasure. They assume their moral and good behavior will exempt them from any judgements.
No human being is justified by the law but the law exposes our hearts to our depravity and failure to keep God’s holy Law. (v19-v20)
And we all stand condemned and guilty before a court of Law. We are without a doubt “Guilty”. And we are accountable to Him for our “Cosmic Treason”. The greatest fear of reality for Barabbas as he awaited his death was the sound of clanging keys. Mankind stands guilty and waiting their sentence of eternal torment for all eternity by a holy God. The outward behavior and attitude amoung people, every Christless person is sinful by nature is under the dominion of Satan. As John said “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19. And therefore they stand guilty before God’s bar of justice. His holy Law! A person’s religious activity or lack of religious activity, doesn’t save you from the guilty verdict; since no man is able to be justified by the workings of the law. Whether it’s Law of God of the Jews, or the law written in the hearts and conscience of all men. (including Gentiles)
Obedience to it can never be perfect
and therefore can never save.
This is why people need to know why they need the
good news, before they can receive the good news.
2. Paul Declares To Humanity The Only Way A Person Can Walk Out Of The Courtroom With A Non-Guilty Verdict. (v21-v31)
How? The Lords Jesus Christ, a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end, and so doing changes God’s wrath toward us into favor. “Propitiation” The word is translated from the Greek noun “hilasmos”, meaning "that which expiates or propitiates" or "the gift which procures propitiation". “To make peace; to appease one offended and render him favorable”.
“A sacrifice that turns away wrath”
Wayne Gruden wrote, “God had not simply forgiven sin and forgotten about the punishment in generations past. He had forgiven sins and stored up His righteous anger against those sins. But at the cross the fury of all that stored- up wrath against sin was unleased against God’s own Son.”
James Boice said propitiation is “God pacifying His own wrath.”
By His death Jesus, appeases the wrath of His Father against sin and thus made it possible for God to show us favorable. It is God who is "propitiated" by the justification of His holy and righteous character. He does this to demonstrate mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and the remission of his sins. God must punish sin because He hates sin. Someone has to die! In the Old Testament, the high priest had to bring a sacrifice to the Tabernacle for the atonement of sins for the nation of Israel once a year. Lev 16:14-19
We have to understand that in the Old Testament times this was only a temporary fix until the Messiah came. Jesus Christ is “the propitiation” as John says in his first epistle. “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2. This is why this word “propitiation” is so important not only for believers, but also for those who have not heard the good news. You don’t have to face the wrath of God, if you have repented and put your faith in Jesus, for what He has done on the cross for you! We know this because the Hebrew writer says “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” Heb 10:9-12. Jesus has completed, fulfilled, and borne the wrath for all humanity, by becoming our propitiation.
Again, do we really understand what
Paul is proclaiming?
As I read (v9-v20) I see…. my shame, my death, and my sin. But when I read (v21- v29) I see….. my shame, my death, my sin placed upon the perfect spotless Lamb of God who took my place on the judgment seat. But most important of all…. I see my new life placed upon the Son of God through the gospel. Put in simpler terms, Jesus said ‘I will die for Mike Andrews even though he is a hater of God and a sinner who deserves death, but I, God of all creation, will have favour and mercy on him.
Jesus takes away our sin punishment.
Jesus is the only way to be reconciled back to the Father, and He has accomplished this by being the propitiation for the whole world. Jesus was our “propitiation” which means “He was our substitute to satisfy the justice of God’s wrath over our sin.” The moral obligations that we owe for our sins are paid to God though Jesus’ death and now the Father is satisfied. Isaiah wrote of this truth “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all……Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:5-11
Though tragic to read, but joy fills my heart…. because it’s this truth that speaks hope into my heart for all eternity. Jesus is the ONLY WAY to be delivered from such a horrible and wicked place. Jesus is the ONLY WAY we will ever have victory over our sin; and the gates of Hell will not prevail against His grace through the gospel. Despite my sin and suffering we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Despite my daily battle over my sin, we are forgiven and declared “Not Guilty” before a holy Judge.
The Apostle John wrote this to remind us of this this truth “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10. This text of Scripture on Roman chapter three, speaks explicitly of the work of Christ in propitiating the wrath of God While a text like Hebrews 2:17 speaks kind of nature Christ needed to have in order to make propitiation. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” He became truly man; He became one with mankind, in order to represent them as a faithful High Priest in the service of God.
What Paul says in this chapter is scary but liberating for the child of God. Because we all have fallen short of God’s glory and everyone is lacking in the courtroom of God’s High Court. But we are also loved with a benevolent love that only comes from God through His Son. When we get to Heaven some of us will be surprised who is there and others will be surprised when they see us there. It’s only by grace that anyone can be saved. A guilty man set free on account of another is that justice? No, that’s grace. This is what we boast in! This is the only thing we boast in….. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who became our perfect sacrifice for me and you.