“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Law Brings Death

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.
-Romans 3:19-20 

A citizen of any given country is held under subjection to the laws and regulations of the land. If the citizen breaks those laws, that citizen must be punished based on the severity and extent of the offense. Since all of humanity is under subjection to the law of God (Romans 2:15), and all of humanity is guilty of breaking that law (Romans 3:9-18), therefore humanity must serve the punishment for breaking God’s law. The penalty for disobedience is death (Romans 3:23). Sometimes, an excellent defense lawyer can get his client a favorable verdict. However, a defense against cosmic treason is non-existent. It is indefensible. The verdict is always the same and it is always eternal death. 

A convict can oftentimes perform community service to decrease his sentence. A convict who has good behavior and performs community service can sometimes get years, and even decades, erased from his sentence. However, no good work can satisfy the demands of God’s law. The law requires perfection, and since that is impossible for depraved humanity, everyone is cursed. Everyone is destined to live a life of spiritual death and eternal separation from God.

It would be a dark, depressing, and destructive reality if that were the end of the story. The next passage, however, discusses the hope for humanity through the justifying grace of God and the redemption that comes through His Son. Thank the Lord for the gift of Christ!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

No One is Righteous

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;
  in their paths are ruin and misery,
  and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 
 Romans 3:9-18

Since the Jews had distorted the Old Testament in claiming their advantage over Gentiles, Paul broke down their argument by extensively quoting the Old Testament. He uses at least six passages in Psalms to explain to the Jews that everyone is completely dominated and enslaved by sin.

Paul first cites Psalm 14:1-3 and 53:1-3. Not only is there no one who is righteous, there also is no one who is even capable of understanding the things of God. The disease of sin is so debilitating that it effects our very comprehension of truth. Because of that, there is no one who seeks after God. All other religions and value systems which seek truth apart from Scripture are merely man’s attempts to escape God, not to seek Him. The Scottish theologian John Murray notes, “As respects well-doing, there is not one; as respects evil-doing, there is no exception.” Man cannot seek after God unless enlightened by the Spirit. It is an attribute of the disability of sin which prevents any search for truth. Sin is blinding.

Paul next cites Psalm 5:9, 10:7, and 140:3 in describing how sin effects the mouth. Those who seek truth apart from Christ have throats which reveal the stench of their depravity, lying tongues, poisonous lips, and blasphemous mouths. These are people who are openly hostile toward the gospel, spewing bitterness and hate toward the things of Christ.

Not only do the mouths of the unrighteous spew bitter hate, but according to Isaiah 59:7-8 their feet quickly tread the path of violence. They leave nothing but a trail of destruction and suffering in their path. Indeed, they do not and cannot know peace. They will always be in a state of strife and conflict.

After beginning this portion of his letter describing the eyesight of the wicked, he closes this portion by quoting Psalm 36:1, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This is the biggest problem for the unrighteous person. This is the root of all their evilness. They do not fear God. They refuse to submit to and honor the Lord of heaven and earth.

As I read this portion of Paul’s epistle and write these words in this blog, I am reminded of what Paul told the Corinthians after listing a plethora of heinous sins of which the Corinthians had been guilty: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Thank the Lord for His mercy and grace, calling His elect out of enslavement in unrighteousness and into a life of freedom in sanctification and justification.