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Focal Passage:  Romans 3:9-20

Romans 3:18 “‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”

Finally, Paul references Psalm 36:1 as he states the totality of why we are “under sin”—we do not truly fear God.  Ligon Duncan stated:  “The fear of God is the sum of Biblical religion.” (Sermon: “All Are Under Sin,” August 20, 2000)  The Old Testament teaches that the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge of God.  We don’t truly know God because we fail to truly fear Him in the Biblical sense.  To fear God is to place Him at the center of all that we do, think, plan, and feel.  To fear God is to make Him the apex of your existence, the absolute reasoning behind everything that you do.  Biblical fear of God means that you care most about what He thinks, most about His approval, most about doing His will.  Since all of us are self-centered by nature, we do not fear Him as we should, and therefore Paul’s point is secure:  without Jesus, all of us are under the due penalty of our sin.

Study/Meditation:  What is the difference between what the world would define as “fear” and what the Bible defines as “Godly fear”?

*Father, You are powerful and magnificent.  Let the world know that You are Lord, and let them see it in my actions and in the way that I speak.  You are great and worthy to be praised!  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:9-20

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.’”

Paul has moved from our hearts to our speech and now to our deeds to display our sin condition.  The progression is a natural one and it is one indicative of man’s need for a Savior.  Paul is not saying that everyone desires to commit murder, but what he is saying is that man’s heart will be manifested in actions that often hurt others.  Our natural state is one that is centered on self and whatever most benefits self.  Unfortunately, that often ends in pain inflicted on those around us.  Peace is many times not our main concern.  As a matter of fact, conflict with others in a continued manner is further evidence that we are by nature selfish creatures who are more interested in being right than in attaining reconciliation.  From our hearts to our words to our actions—we continually prove that we cannot save ourselves.

Study/Meditation:  How have long disagreements between you and another person reflected selfishness on your part?  What can you do today to reconcile with someone?

*Father, I know that I am selfish by nature.  Give me a heart that is Yours so that my speech and my actions display me as Your child.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:9-20

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.’”

In continuing to make his point on the condition of man’s soul, Paul moves from the heart condition directly to the tongue.  The evidence of the state of our hearts is contained in our speech, and we need look no further than the words we utter to prove that we live in a state of sin.  Paul quotes from Psalms 5:9, 140:3, and 10:7, all of which state the unfortunate condition we possess evidenced by the things that we say.  James will later write that the tongue “is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” and that “no human being can tame the tongue.” (James 3:8)  Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart a person speaks.” (Luke 6:45)  Even our children don’t have to be sent to “lying school” to learn how to deceive.  It is in our natures to sin, and there is no greater reason that we need our Savior.

Study/Meditation:  Why do you think it is harder for human beings to control what we say than what we do?  How does continued time in prayer and meditation help us with this issue?

*Father, help me control this restless evil, my tongue.  Forgive me of the things I say that do not honor and glorify You.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:9-20

Romans 3:10-12 “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.’”

Paul has just stated that we are all “under sin,” meaning that every person is under its influence and condemnation.  In that, he states that none of us is righteous and can therefore do no good.  He begins in the heart, and even on our best days, we cannot argue with this truth.  We might be able to act like we are good people and do things that the world deems good, but once we look in the mirror, we know what is really and truly there.  When you look into the mirror and face who you are—what you think and what you desire…all of it—could you still stand before God and say, “Paul’s not talking about me in these verses.  I am righteous.”  Righteousness is determined by perfection.  Consequently, in our hearts, the psalmist is correct in saying that no one is righteous and can therefore do nothing that is good by that same standard.

Study/Meditation:  How might you respond to someone who argued that the things they do in this world, outside of Christ, are still good?  What is the definition of God’s good?

*Father, without You I am imperfect and unrighteous, so I praise and honor You in Your gift of redemption to me, giving me the righteousness of Christ.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:9-20

Romans 3:9 “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.”

Paul is coming to his closing argument in this passage against any and all objections to Christ as the only way to salvation.  He began in Chapter 1 pointing out how Gentiles need Christ and then in Chapter 2 and the first part of Chapter 3, he went to the same point directed at the Jews.  Now he’s basically saying that we are all in the same boat, regardless of who we think we are or whose family we may belong to.  Every human being is “under sin.”  By this he is saying that we are under the guilt of sin, the power of sin, and the condemnation of sin.  This is very sobering and certainly not what his audience wanted to hear.  It may not be what many today want to hear either; we prefer to think that mankind is basically good.  Paul’s argument, as Scripture attests, is that we are not basically good.  As a matter of fact, we are “under sin,” even in the things we might think we do that appear good.  Outside of Christ, all people are in sin, led by sin, and will be punished because of that sin.

Study/Meditation:  Why is it so important for us to realize that we are “under sin” as Paul states?  How does this fact make Christ so amazing?

*Father, thank You for sending Christ to save me from the penalty and power of my sin.  I love You.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 3:1-8

Romans 3:7-8 “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.”

Paul finally overrules another rhetorical argument in verses 7-8, which is perhaps the weakest of them all.  Basically this argument states:  “If God is glorified through my sin, shouldn’t I just sin all of the time so that His glory can shine?”  That argument is sometimes also seen in salvation by grace, not works, and the constancy of that salvation:  “If I don’t have to do anything to be saved and can do nothing to lose it once it’s given, can’t I sin all I want after the fact and still go to heaven?”  Both arguments are preposterous and fly directly in the face of God’s righteousness.  God’s children, His true children, want nothing more than to hear their Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Any rationalization for sin in the midst of receiving God’s saving grace is not an argument in favor of sin; it is in argument that will demonstrate true regeneration, a state that only results from true repentance and a desire for continued sanctification.

Study/Meditation:  How does Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:17 that healthy trees bear good fruit and diseased trees bear bad fruit prove the fallacy in the argument Paul speaks of in Romans 3:7-8?

*Father, help me to see and do only those things that bring You glory.  Your righteousness endures forever!  Amen.