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Faithlife

All Together

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Man is unified by sin, the law, and the need for a redeemer

Notes & Transcripts

Christmas in July

Welcome to July where the average high temperature hovers around 90° and the low seldom dips below 70°. The average precipitation is just at 5.35” almost twice what we get in December. So while we’re enjoying the blessings of a working (or not) air conditioner, I want to talk with you about Christmas. Now I know some of you are thinking, Elder Bob has finally lost it, but bear with me a moment. This is not our destination; we’re just starting our journey. The Christmas spirit is a strange phenomenon. Every year for a brief period of time people seem to be overcome with a sense of cooperation not in evidence for the rest of the year. Hostilities are terminated for a set period, feuds are put on ice and conflicts placed on hold, and for a few days or hours an almost surrealistic air of “togetherness” prevails.
This was particularly true in Christmas 1968. Millions of people around the world, glued to their television sets, (you remember? Huge 13” screens black and white three channels (ok four if we count the UHF PBS station…the rabbit ears…those were the days!) They were waiting with bated breath and crossed fingers for the latest word from Apollo 8, the fragile, complex spacecraft in which the first manned lunar orbit was being attempted. They were amply rewarded not only because they watched history being made but also because they witnessed breathtaking pictures of earth, the tiny planet which the human race inhabits suspended in black space. For the first time, as man was made aware that the sum total of his differences is lived out on a fragile fraction of the universe, “togetherness” of a totally new kind was experienced. Born of a sense of awe and cultivated through a sense of necessity, Christmas 1968 fashioned a oneness on earth never known before. Regrettably, the familiarity which constant exposure brings quickly eroded the sense of wonder. The global togetherness vanished almost as fast as the annual Christmas spirit does, and the human race got back to the business of disintegration and destruction. Hopes that new insights into our minuteness would bring the race together were shattered, and many people began to wonder if there is such a thing as a unifying factor. The Bible however insists that such a factor does exists. Its components are fourfold.

All Under Sin

(NIV)
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans 3:9–18 NIV
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(NIV)
Romans 3:9–18 NIV
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Having shown at some length the obvious differences between Jew and Greek (or Gentile) and having compared their relative advantages and disadvantages, Paul asks if there really are any material differences. He answers his own question with a resounding “no.” Overriding all differences of class, creed, and culture is the somber fact that all are “under sin.” This statement is presented as a “charge,” that is, a legal accusation presumably made in the name of God against His own created beings. The awful togetherness of the human race that takes precedence over every other similarity or dissimilarity is that before God we are all exposed in our sinfulness.
The force of the expression “under sin” should be carefully noted. Paul described the relationship between a schoolboy and his teacher in (read text)as being “under a schoolmaster.” In he said (read text)slaves were “under the yoke.” In all these instances to be “under” means “to be dominated by or under the authority of.”
1 Timothy 6:1 NIV
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.
1 Timothy 6:1 NIV
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.
Galatians 3:25 AV
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Galatians 3:25 NIV
Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Galatians 3:25 AV
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
1 Timothy 6:1 NIV
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.
There is a major difference between “sin” and “sins,” so we must be careful not to confuse “doing things that are not right” with the fact that we are dominated by a fundamentally evil dynamic. The difference is not unlike that which exists between the symptoms of a disease and the disease itself. When this is understood it becomes obvious that the human predicament is not so much that we have done things wrongly but that we are “in the Christ-less state under the command, under the authority, under the control of sin and helpless to escape from it.” Accordingly, any solution to the human problem that fails to deal with the root cause of “sin” is no more of a solution than cold compresses on a fevered brow is a cure for the infection causing the fever.
Paul’s all-embracing “charge” requires substantiation, which he wastes no time in presenting. Drawing freely from the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah, he writes a scathing denunciation in .
We see back in , that “the righteousness of God” is the central theme of this Epistle. (read text) Righteousness has to do with God always being in the right and, therefore, always doing that which is right because He, Himself, is the only standard of rightness. In the same way that there is and can be only one magnetic North and that all other points of the compass find their identity in relationship to North, so righteousness is found exclusively in the character of God, and all other standards of righteousness must be determined with reference to Him.
Romans 1:17 NIV
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
It is against this definition of righteousness that the charge “there is none righteous” () is made and can be readily justified. The charge is not a figment of Paul’s fertile imagination nor is it a product of his disenchantment with the human race, as he clearly demonstrates by substantiating his position with quotations from Psalms and Isaiah. It is as old as God’s dealings with mankind, and man’s resentment and resistance to the charge are equally as ancient.
Romans 3:10 NIV
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
Those people who have no interest in God and those who deliberately live in opposition to God are, if we may press the comparison in our analogy a bit further, heading south from God’s north, and are clearly at odds with Him. Other people stray from the north in as many directions as there are points on the compass. But sometimes the people most resistant to the charge of universal, no-exception unrighteousness are those heading conscientiously NNW or NNE. They may be close and they are definitely closer than most, but they are not heading north where the righteousness is to be found. To the world in general Paul proclaims, “There is none righteous,” adding for the benefit of those who think they are close, “no, not one.”
The dominating effect of sin can also be seen in the confusion of both individuals and society. “There is none who understands” means that without exception the thought processes of men and women are so affected by sin that there will always be some degree of deficiency in their grasp of the truth as it is to be found only in the knowledge of God. This naturally leads to confusion in everything else because all things have their meaning in Him. The politician who is confused about God will be confused about God’s world, which leads inevitably to a confused world view and inadequate political solutions. The sociologist who does not adequately understand God cannot thoroughly understand God’s masterpiece—man—so he will be in error at some point in his sociology. The same kind of thing must be said about all areas of human endeavor which are grounded on a warped or withered understanding of God.
That the mind of man is not so depraved that it is totally incapable of any activity is obvious. But the extent of the depravity is such that even though it cannot understand God of itself, it can still recognize its own deficiencies and may even be capable of identifying the deficiency as basically spiritual. This does not mean, though, that man has a natural predisposition to go looking for God to fill the void. On the contrary Paul insists, “There is none who seeks after God.” There are people who profess to have a desire to know God but these same people will, after careful consideration, discover that their search is more for a good argument than for a living God. The Lord Jesus made it clear that those who “seek will find” but Moses said to God’s chosen people (read text)“… you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all thy soul” (). It is this kind of “seeking” that man does not naturally engage in, as is evident from the word Paul used, which Wuest said means a “determined search after something.” Sin has left man with a warped will as well as a confused mind.
Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
The predictable consequence of the foregoing is that “they have all gone out of the way” (). In the same way that an automobile with a twisted axle will have wheels out of alignment giving it a tendency to go off line, so man with his sin-dominated mind and will, has a natural tendency to move from the path of God’s choosing. Without exception, the human race has a bent toward evil and a bias in the direction of disobedience.
Romans 3:12 AV
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Like a symphony in which the various themes are interwoven, with more and more instruments adding their special contribution to the volume and the tempo accelerating until the tension becomes practically intolerable, so God’s case against human fallenness builds to a crashing climax.
To state that the race has become “worthless,” as in , is to make a most damning indictment. The Hebrew word used in the Psalm Paul quotes stresses the thought of corruption or “turning sour,” while the Greek equivalent used by the apostle in Romans emphasizes the idea of “uselessness.” As wineskins that rot become useless because they cannot hold wine, so fallen man through the corrupting power of sin in the totality of his being cannot function as intended. As meat that perishes and cannot be used for anything and as salt that “loses its savor” has lost its very purpose for existence, so mankind is pathetic in its deteriorated and disintegrated uselessness.
Romans 3:12 NIV
All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Inevitably this depraved condition leads to the conclusion that is so blatantly set forth—“There is none who does good.” This thought is violently rejected by many people who see no way that it can be true in the light of innumerable acts of courage, boundless evidences of sacrificial love, countless works of creative genius, and millions of ordinary everyday actions that demonstrate compassion and concern by the masses. Two things need to be stressed, however. First, the expression “does good” would be better translated if the word “habitually” were included, and, second, the concept of goodness is defined with reference to God Himself. This is the goodness that is the essence of His nature rather than the product of human activity however enlightened or noble.
Paul, in effect, says that without a single exception there is not a human being of any shape, size, or form from any culture, environment, or age who has habitually produced a life characterized by undeviating commitment to righteousness and unadulterated goodness. No, not one!
The rabbis had a teaching method called “charaz” which means “stringing pearls” where they would take verses from a variety of sources and develop an argument from them. This Paul proceeds to do as he turns from broad generalizations about the human condition and deals with specific human activities. In the same way that James in his epistle stressed the immense power of the tongue to express all manner of evil and produce all types of chaos, Paul chooses to concentrate on the activities of the human voice to demonstrate human sinfulness. “Their throat is an open tomb” ( ) is a striking, even disgusting, metaphor. Yet if we take a moment to consider this, we will see just how such depraved vocabulary, used by so many, allows the unfortunate hearers to catch a glimpse of the barren deadness of the speaker’s experience from which the sentiments of the heart flow. An “open tomb” is an fitting description of the inner realities of human experience where little remains but the rotting bones and corrupting flesh of once-noble bodies of opinion.
Romans 13 NIV
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Romans 13 NIV
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Romans 3:13 NKJV
“Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”;
In total contrast, Paul’s second pearl on this string is, “With their tongues they have practiced deceit” (v. 13). Far from being disgusting and obscene, the speech of some is sweet and smooth. Sugar-coated statements and well-buttered platitudes expressed in cultured, modulated perfection are no less demonstrations of human perversity because they are designed for deception. David, whose Psalm Paul quotes at this point, knew from bitter experience with King Saul how devastating hostility could be cloaked in smooth civility.
One day the King said to the young man, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!” (, niv). Saul, while talking piously about the Lord’s battles and touching the young man’s heart at the vulnerable point of his love for a girl, was actually plotting David’s destruction with a tongue which for a long time had “practiced deceit.”
1 Samuel 18:17 NIV
Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”
Now the asp, or Egyptian cobra, has a small sac of deadly poison in its mouth which can have a devastating, paralyzing effect on the victim of its bite. Paul’s use of the phrase “The poison of asps is under their lips” (v. 13) describes in a chilling and graphic way the far-reaching destructive capabilities of words spoken from a sinful heart. There are times when it is the frontal venomous attack of an irate enemy couched in violent, bitter verbiage which is so incapacitating; at other times it is the sudden sharp sting of the unexpectedly bitten heel that produces an even more devastating result. James, expressing similar strong sentiments, said, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” ().
James 3:8 NKJV
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
When man’s throat is as ugly as an open tomb, it may indicate a deep self-loathing. If his tongue practices deceit it would indicate a commitment to self-advancement at the expense of integrity and honor. Lips that spit poison betray a heart bent on personal triumph, regardless of the destruction caused. But when man’s “mouth is full of cursing and bitterness,” () it shows the lengths to which man will go to remove from his path all obstacles that threaten the advancement of his own designs and the selfish development of his own person. The “curse” in New Testament times was not so much a “swear word” as we would think of it. It meant the use of words which of themselves held the power to bring about the desired effect of their spell. It was a way of petitioning the spirits. Springing from a bitter root, this practice was widespread enough to strike fear in the hearts of all, even to the point of death in some. Peter recognized that Simon the Sorcerer’s interest in the Holy Spirit was not at all related to spiritual growth but a desire to possess the “power” of the Spirit so that he might gain even more control of people’s fate through imprecation and curse. Consequently, he was bluntly told:(read text from computer screen) “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (). The wicked human heart will employ its physical capabilities in an alarming diversity of ways to advance its own ends while at the same time revealing its own corruption.
Acts 8:22–23 NIV
Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Romans 3:14 NIV
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
Romans 14 NIV
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Romans 14 NIV
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Romans 3:14 NIV
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
Acts 8:22–23 NIV
Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Having dealt thoroughly with the organs related with speech, Paul turns his attention to the “feet” and the “eyes.” The theme is the same; only the ways in which it is expressed differ: “Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” ().
Romans 3:15–18 NKJV
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
We see it all around us in today’s world. The eagerness with which men’s feet run to violence and the miserable subsequent trail of oppression and misery are not only clearly stated in Scripture; every day they are vividly shown through national and international events so that further comment is perhaps not necessary. The link between this behavior and the spiritual vacuum from which it springs may not be so obvious. Ignorance of “the way of peace” and absence of “the fear of God” are the issues which Paul insists must be recognized. The dynamic of sin is responsible not only for the presence of these wicked forces but also for the absence of benevolent forces. Sin has imparted the ability to do evil and has robbed man of the power to do good. Hence, his insights are marred. This can be seen in his inability to grasp the true meaning of peace, his uncertainty as to where it can be found, and the resultant misunderstanding in his efforts to discover it and live in the good of it. Every man’s best and most noble efforts at peacemaking result so often in increased hostility. It is sad that it is not uncommon for the peace he proudly proclaims to be little more than a cessation of overt acts of aggression without any real solution having been found. As the prophet reminds us: “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked” ( , nasb).
Isaiah 57:21 NASB95
“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
The dying thief was incredulous that his crucified partner in crime was still blaspheming even on the threshold of death. (read text from computer screen) “Do you not fear God,” he said, “seeing you are under the same condemnation?” (). He was on the cross at that moment because he had never feared God! To fear God and to keep that fear before the eyes means to respect God for who He is and to constantly keep that knowledge of Him before you in all activities of life. Failure to keep the majesty, grace, and judgment of God in mind leads people into all kinds of wrong objectives and false perspectives. Human beings who do not respect God as their Creator can never adequately understand the mystery of their own being. Those who fail to respect Him as Judge will never approach moral concerns with the seriousness they deserve, while those who do not know Him as Savior can never be motivated to love as those whose hearts have been overwhelmed with the love of God shown in Christ. Lack of respect for God produces an alarming vacuum in man.
Luke 23:40 NKJV
But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?
It should be stated that the apostle does not mean to convey that all the characteristics of sin listed above are in evidence in every life. Godet has wisely written, “Some, even most of them, may remain latent in many men: but they all exist in germ in the selfishness and natural pride of the ego, and the least circumstance may cause them to pass into the active state.”

All Under The Law

Having completed the long “string of pearls” to validate his argument that all are “under sin” Paul adds in verse 19 (read text)
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Romans 3:19 NKJV
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Turn with me to . Here we read, (read text)
Luke 24:44 NIV
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
The full title as it appears in , the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms, was rarely used, and all three divisions might be referred to as simply the law and the prophets (; cf. ; ; etc.), or simply just the law (see on ). In order to bring home more directly to the Jews, the evidence of the Scriptures, and to avert any attempt on their part to shift the reference from themselves to the Gentiles, Paul calls attention to the fact that the OT, from which he has been quoting, speaks specifically to those to whom it was given. The Jewish people acknowledged the divine inspiration of the OT, which denounced so specifically the sins of the Jewish nation. Therefore, they could scarcely escape Paul’s conclusion that they should rightfully be regarded as sharing with the Gentiles in the universal guilt of man.[1] It is important to remember that the apostle’s objective was to show both Jew and Gentile “under sin,” and he concludes that those “under the law” are those who belong to “all the world” which is guilty and “every mouth” which is stopped. This would mean that the Gentiles without having the advantage of the law as given to the Jews were still guilty of the things outlined in the law and come under the same condemnation. The solidarity of the human race is to be seen not only in its common bondage to sin but its common guilt before the law of God.
[1] Nichol, F. D. (Ed.). (1980). The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Vol. 6, p. 499). Review and Herald Publishing Association.

All Under Pressure

Paul then introduces two important pieces of information concerning the law in verse 20:(read text)
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:20 NKJV
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
First, Paul shows the impossibility of people being “justified by fulfilling the demands of the law for the clear reason that, as he has shown conclusively, they have already failed in this regard. Second, he proclaims that the law serves as a means of showing to sinful mankind the reality of sin. Here he uses one of his favorite words, epignosis, meaning “full knowledge,” having a sense of clear understanding to describe the purpose, the ministry that the law has in revealing to men and women the true nature of their sinfulness. Through the law, which we do not fulfill, we really begin to comprehend fully the meaning of sin. This knowledge and the discovery that our labors to please God through self-effort are sure to fail, put humanity under immense pressure to discover the means whereby man might be reconciled to God. In this desperate sense of need and search, there is yet another evidence of human solidarity. It is ironic that in its search for common ground the human race appears to have overlooked
First, Paul shows the impossibility of people being “justified by fulfilling the demands of the law for the clear reason that, as he has shown conclusively, they have already failed in this regard. Second, he proclaims that the law serves as a means of showing to sinful mankind the reality of sin. Here he uses one of his favorite words, epignosis, meaning “full knowledge,” having a sense of clear understanding to describe the purpose, the ministry that the law has in revealing to men and women the true nature of their sinfulness. Through the law, which we do not fulfill, we really begin to comprehend fully the meaning of sin. This knowledge and the discovery that our labors to please God through self-effort are sure to fail, put humanity under immense pressure to discover the means whereby man might be reconciled to God. In this desperate sense of need and search, there is yet another evidence of human solidarity. It is ironic that in its search for common ground the human race appears to have overlooked the fact that we are totally united in our subjection to sin, condemnation by God, and necessity for salvation.
What a hopeless lot we appear to be. We are all under sin, all condemned by the law and all mankind seems to be searching hopelessly for the last life preserver on the Titanic. So let us not close here, but proceed to read further.
(NIV)
Romans 3:21–26 NIV
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
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