Sermon Only May 26, 2019

Sermon Only May 26, 2019


Well it is good to be back with you this
morning. I missed being with you last Sunday. I was in New Mexico and my father
and I went to the Netherwood Park church of Christ in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And
had a fine uplifting time with our brothers and sisters in Christ there.
Before we went there though, since they are two hours behind out there, I got up
at 7, which was 9 a.m. here, and I quickly opened my laptop and tuned into the live
feed of the Wetzel Road church of Christ. And got to hear you know some of Charlie
Ruff’s lesson and then I went back and listened to all of it later. But I really
appreciated the opportunity for you to have Charlie bring God’s Word to you. His
sweet and sincere Spirit comes through loud and clear, and I know that was a
blessing to you. Of course I also wanted to tune in to hear what was being said.
You know like, “Sure is good to have a break from David today!” You know those
kind of things. Of course Alan, when he hears what Dave
says, I’m just kidding. So guys, we do want to let you know that we’re gonna have on
Father’s Day, all the guys are welcome to wear Hawaiian shirts that morning, all
right. We’re gonna all be in tune together. So Mark of course, that’s that’s
regular for Mark, so that’s every Sunday for Mark. But for the rest of us,
we’re gonna have some fun. So whether you want to go really crazy or very, you know,
classy, either way let’s have some fun on Father’s Day together. All men feel free
to wear a Hawaiian shirt. Mike’s looking for a Red Sox Hawaiian shirt or Patriots
okay, yes, go with your favorite sports team? I don’t know what you’ll
find. So one day two men were sitting next to
each other on the airplane, when one of the men remarked to the other, “Somebody
around here’s deodorant is not working!” The other man said, “It was not me, I’m not
wearing any deodorant!” That explains everything, right. One of
the realities in life is some folks are oblivious to their own state of being.
Whether that’s true of the physical state or whether that’s true of their
moral state, when the Bible talks about sin, many people say, “That’s not me.”
“Doesn’t apply to me.” Their cluelessness of their moral state is just as
unpleasant as their cluelessness of their physical state. In today’s passage
from Romans 3, Paul could not be any clearer when he says, “When it comes to
sin, all of us stink!” All of us stink.” Today’s passage is the grand and the
grim conclusion of the first three chapters of Romans. In Chapter 1, Paul
focused on the pagan unrighteousness of the Gentile world. And then in the first
half of the second chapter, he focused on the hypocrisy of hypocritical moralists.
Finally, in the last half of chapter 2, he aimed at the smug self-righteousness of
the Jews. Now he reaches the final verdict: no one is righteous. The whole
world is guilty of sin- the Gentiles are guilty, the moralists are guilty, the Jews
are guilty, everyone is guilty. And everyone is therefore subject to the
wrath of God. Now before you become overcome by despair, I want you to keep
in mind that good news is coming. Paul’s been focusing on the bad news in
order for us to really appreciate the good news. And so as dark and as
disturbing as the bad news is, the mood of the book of Romans is about to change
and Paul will be pointing to the good news that is found in Jesus. So in the
section that we’ll explore next week, Lord willing, Paul will lay out the wonder
of the gospel and how it accomplishes what needs to be accomplished in dealing
with the bad news. Now when we get to chapter 5, a little
later than that, we’ll thrill at these amazing truth, just to give you a little
idea of how the mood will change later on: For while we were still weak, at the
right time Christ died for the ungodly. one will scarcely die for a righteous
person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare to die- but God shows his
love for us in this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And then when
we get to chapter 8, later on, we’ll have some wonderful truths like: There is no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
How’s that for some good news! Or a little later in that same chapter, The
Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God,
and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Hows that
for some good news right! And at the end of chapter 8: What shall we say to these
things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own
Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us
all things? whew, what a relief!
There is good news ahead! So later on we’re going to encounter some of the
most uplifting, some of the most inspirational, and encouraging passages
in all the Bible, but not just yet. We’ve got to get through today’s section before
Paul can lift us up and send us soaring in the heights of faith. He must first
help us clearly see and understand our lost state. We’ll never understand,
appreciate, or even seek the good news of salvation, if we first haven’t understood
and accepted the sinfulness and the lostness
the helplessness of our sinful state. This is a lesson that our society
desperately needs to relearn today. About 10 years ago, the USA TODAY newspaper ran
a feature article entitled: “Has the Notion of Sin Been Lost?” How’s that, a
secular newspaper asking the question, has the notion of sin than lost? The
answer is yes it has right. The article quoted a wide variety of pollsters, and
preachers and pundits, and and they all basically agreed that the concept of sin
has all but disappeared in our society and even in many of our churches. For
instance, the article pointed out that Joel Olsteen, that popular smiling
preacher on television, never mentions sin in his television broadcasts and in
the books he writes. Never, underscore that, never mentions sin. And so Olsteen
is just the latest in a long line of preachers going all the way back to
Norman Vincent Peale, you may recognize this picture there on
the screen, “The Power of Positive Thinking” right. See, we Americans have
basically been an optimistic people, a can-do kind of people, who believe in
self-help. We don’t believe in spiritual helplessness. So back in the 1950s, Norman
Vincent Peale built his empire around “The Power of Positive
Thinking’. And Joel Osteen and many others have just followed in his footsteps.
We’re a “can-do” people. We believe we can make ourselves healthy and wealthy and
spiritually successful if we just believe in ourselves and have a positive
view of ourselves. But that is the antithesis of the gospel. God wants
us to be spiritually successful, but the path to spiritual success and salvation
is through self-denial, not some hallow low self-esteem. It leads
through repentance, not positive thinking. So the apostle Paul reminds us here in
Romans, we can’t “feel good” about ourselves until we first “feel bad” about
ourselves. Until we recognize the sinfulness of our sin, and the
helplessness that we have to do anything about it in and of ourselves. So let’s
turn our attention to Paul’s final verdict: the guilt of all people found
here in Romans 3: 9-20. He begins in verse 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…
So this question-and-answer format that comes up again here at the beginning of
verse 9 is just like what we saw in our last segment in the sermon a couple of
weeks ago in verses 1 through 8 where he asks these questions and then he
answers them. And as i’ve emphasized and Paul’s been emphasizing over and over
again, we’re all under sin. Everyone is guilty before God. The Jews are guilty,
the Gentiles are guilty, moral people are guilty, religious people are guilty, men
are guilty, women are guilty, the rich are guilty, the poor guilty, everyone at the Wetzel Road church of
Christ is guilty of sin. No matter how you describe the human race, all are
guilty before God. And the key phrase there is: “are under sin”. We don’t just commit sin, we are “under
sin”. And this is a military term it means to be under the authority, the command of
someone else- used of soldiers who are under the authority of their commanding
officer. It means that we’re under the control of someone else or something
else. And in this case, it means the human race is under the domination of sin. Any
person outside of Christ is under the control of sin and is helpless to escape
from it all by ourselves. So sin is our number one problem- it’s not the symptom
of the problem, it is the disease itself. And it doesn’t just need a little
band-aid to make it feel better, it needs a cure right, It needs a cure. So
after making the charge everyone is under sin, Paul then lays out the
proof of that fact. And in the next few verses he lays out this appalling
picture of the human race. And he does so by stringing together a
number of Old Testament quotes, from the Psalms, and from Isaiah, mostly that
substantiate the truth that all humankind is under sin. Now at first
glance, the arrangement of these quotations appears to be haphazard, but a
closer look reveals a certain structure. The phrase “there is none” links
quotations in verses 10 through 12 and establishes that general point of
the universality of sin. But then in verses 13 through 14, he focuses on the
sins of speech and he highlights the different organs involved in speech. And
then in verses 15 through 17, he focuses on the sins of violence against others.
And then finally, in verse 18, he returns to where he began using
the phrase “there is no” and he points to the basic human disregard for God. But he
uses these bodily parts right, the organs of speech, and then the
feet, and then the eyes. Let’s read verses 10 through 12:
“None for it is written 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. Get the
point? How many times there does he use the word no where none? Wow!
So God looks down from heaven, he doesn’t see a single righteous person, not even
one. But you or I might ask, “How could this be?” I mean we look around us and
that’s not our assessment. We see lots of folks that look pretty good. Sometimes we
look at some of you know the stellar stellar ones, you know we think of the
the Mother Theresas. No not one, not even one. Well we have to keep in mind is that
God judges by a different standard than we do right. We judge on a curve all
right, we judge on the curve, we look at our neighbor and we say, “Wow, you know I’m
not as bad as he is!” That makes me better than him, or or or she’s better than me
so I’m not quite as good as she is, but I’m not as bad as he is.
So we just judge on this curve. But God doesn’t judge that way. When God looks
down from heaven, the standard God uses is his own
sinless perfection. God compares us to his own perfect
holiness, his own perfect law, of his own perfect wisdom, his own perfect justice.
And when we’re compared with God’s own perfection, you can see why God’s
conclusion is there is no one righteous, no not. See that’s the difference between
relative goodness and absolute goodness right. There’s a huge chasm between those
two things and that’s why God can conclude, there’s no one righteous, all
are guilty, all are in need. So after declaring that general unrighteousness
of everyone, Paul then shows how sin has infected the
various parts of the human body starting with the organs of speech. He says: “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.” So he uses these four different words describing these various organs of speech: throats, mouths, tongues,
lips. Our sinfulness comes out of our organs of speech leading us to use
corrupt words, deceitful words, poisonous words, blasphemous and bitter words. James,
in his little letter if you like the book of James, talks a lot about the
tongue and its problems right. How that little organ gets us into such big
trouble and how it’s out of control. Jesus is the one in his teaching who
said: “It is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks.” So it’s not
just a problem with the tongue , and the mouth and al,l it’s the problem with
what in the heart that’s coming out. As you
know though, we live in a time when the organs of speech are used in such
terrible ways, people’s everyday language in public is so corrupt that’s awful,
even in places where you wouldn’t expect it to be like in school, or in offices, or
in the government, it’s terrible. People are so profane many people show
no restraint and what they say to others or about others, especially in the social
media, even among people in the highest places. And so our lips often reveal how
unrighteous everyone is. Paul could have stopped there. You want an example,
Exhibit A, for how unrighteous everyone is? Is there anyone here that has been
perfect in their speech? Anyone? No not one. But he doesn’t stop there. After talking
about sin in our speech he moved on to describing sin in our feet: “Their feet
are swift to shed blood; their paths are ruined and misery, the way of peace
they have not known.” How accurately does that describe the climate of the world
in which we live today? Think about how swift people’s feet are
to shed blood. Our streets are filled with violence, shootings and stabbings.
almost every day in the news. The victims are younger and younger. Our world is
filled with terrorism- bombing after bombing, shooting after shooting. You talk
about ruling in menace and misery! Look at the results of that stuff. What about
the millions of innocent babies killed every year through abortion? Add to that thousands and millions
killed by persecution and genocides, whether it’s religious persecution,
we don’t talk much about the United States because we don’t have much of it
here right now, but it happens all over the world all the time. The world is a
bloody place and the way of peace they have not known. You talk about strife
between people and countries and societies. Again Exhibit B, Exhibit A was
enough how about Exhibit B? Is there anyone righteous? No not one.
Paul’s final indictment, this litany of body parts, has to do with the eyes: “There
is no fear of God before their eyes.” And the Living Bible puts it this way: “They
care nothing about God or what he thinks about them.” How’s that for a commentary
on our present culture? They care nothing about God or what God thinks about them.
When people reject God, they ultimately lose their moorings, their compass, all
restraint. When you live as though there is no God then anything goes and
certainly unrighteousness then reigns. The last two verses of this section Paul
gives his conclusion; his final verdict. The charge has been made, the evidence
has been presented, and now it’s time for the verdict.
Paul wrote: 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 the knowledge of sin. Now this
conclusion he draws as interesting, isn’t it? He says every mouth is silenced and
the whole world is held accountable to God. He’s using kind of a judicial
imagery here right. He pictures the defendant standing there unable to speak
in their defense. What can you say when God says there is no one righteous, no
not one? You say,”I’m pretty good” ,what are you gonna say?
There’s nothing to say. There’s no defense after what the
prosecuting attorney has said proving your unrighteousness. The defendant
recognizes that he or she’s at the mercy of the judge (God Himself) who was about
to pronounce the sentence. And the word “for” that begins verse 20, or “since” in the
ESV, could be translated “because” or “therefore”, but it suggests that twenty is
the conclusion that should be drawn from 19. And Paul’s conclusion for both Jew
and Gentile, especially Jew, is that “no one will be declared righteous in his
sight by observing the law.” This way of law and trying to to do enough and do it
right, no one is going to end up righteous and not subject to God’s
judgment following that path. He’s telling us the law can’t do that. It
can’t bring someone into a saving relationship with God. But then Paul
concludes telling us what the law can do- it can’t make someone righteous, what can
it do? It can teach us what God wants right, it is able to to make us conscious
of sin and so by setting before people a detailed record of God’s will, the law
makes people live vividly aware of just how short they fall of God’s requirement;
It’s God’s holiness. JB Phillips said it like this, “The law, it’s the straight edge
of the law, that shows us how crooked we are. The straight edge of the law reveals
just how crooked we are when you lay them side by side. And this is why God,
when when we’re laid side by side, to God we stand next to him, there’s no one
righteous except God.” The law of God there forth like a mirror right, it shows
us how dirty we are. The purpose of the mirror isn’t to wash our face. You don’t
take the mirror off the wall and scrub yourself up with it, that’s not the role
of the mirror. The role of the mirror is to show you that you got a problem and
to encourage you to go find the solution right. It sends us off to find the soap
and the water. And the law is like that, it doesn’t save us, it’s meant to drive us
to the only place where we can be saved- the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we move
toward the conclusion of this sermon, I want us to think about the words of the
18th century theologian named Charles Hodge, we’ve we had another Charles Hodge,
a a little little younger than this guy that’s been a friend over the years of
our churches, but this is the theologian Charles Hodge from the 18th century: To be
prepared for the reception of the gospel, we must be convinced of sin, humbled under
a sense of its turpitude, silenced under the conviction of its condemning power,
and frustrated at the footstool of mercy, under a feeling that we cannot satisfy
the demands of the law, that if ever saved, it must be by other merit and other
power than our own. That’s what Paul’s been building towards in these chapters
here in Romans. To get us to this place, this this understanding where we will be
convinced of our sin, and then not just convinced, but humbled under the sense of
its of its amount, its turpitude, silenced under the conviction of its condemning
power, the wages of sin is death. And prostrate, laid before the mercy of
God’s knowing that if if there’s any hope of salvation, it isn’t in us, it’s
not in our power, it’s not in our goodness, it’s gonna come from somewhere
else, someone else. And that’s the good news
right! So there are three truths that I want us to focus on to be sure we
understand and embrace. And that is number one: all of us are sinners- there
is no one righteous, no not one. All of us must be willing to look in the
mirror and acknowledge the truth about ourselves and our condition- and not just
that we’re sinners but we’re under sin- it has control of us. How many of us want
to argue with the mirror right? “I don’t look that bad. My face isn’t that dirty.” But the mirror tells the truths right. We
don’t like the truth about ourselves, we want to minimize our condition, it’s not
so bad, I’m not as bad as others. But the truth is, we’re sinners, were subject to
God’s wrath, and in comparison to God and His perfect holiness, there
no one righteous, no not one. The second truth is: none of us can be good enough
to save ourselves. The power of sin makes it impossible for anyone to do enough
good works in order to merit or win God’s final approval. Human effort will
never put a person in a right relationship with God. But you know
that’s that’s one of the lies Satan wants us to buy into- we can save
ourselves, we can do it ourselves, we can be good enough in and of ourselves, we
can earn our way, we don’t need Christ, we don’t need grace. No person can be
justified before God by what he or she does. All of us are unrighteous, we’re
lost sinners, we’re helpless to do anything about it in and of ourselves. Not to leave you in too dark of a place,
let’s talk about the third truth: No matter how unrighteous and sinful our
lives there is hope for us. And our only hope is found in the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Our only hope is to receive the righteousness that belongs to Christ
which can be imputed to us. The only truly hopeless case is the person who
will not admit to truth about themselves and their lostness and then seek the
Savior who can save them. That’s the only hopeless person, the one who says, “I don’t
have a problem, I don’t have a need.T they have no hope. Now next week, Lord willing,
we will examine Paul’s explanation of the gospel and how the righteousness of
Christ is transferred to us and saves us. But for today, I want to emphasize our
unrighteousness and our helpless state. I want us to understand that sin is the
pit into which we fall in that’s too deep for us to escape from in and of
ourselves. That it’s kind of a quicksand that we have foolishly wandered into
from which we can’t extract ourselves. That sin is ultimately the death we have
entered from which we cannot restore ourselves to life. Romans 6:23: the wages
of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And oh how we need the free gift of God amen! Let me end with this illustration-
Daniel boom explored the great wilderness of Tennessee and Kentucky way
back in the day. And there was a program on when I was a boy. Was a Daniel Boone
series, predates many of you I know, you might have to google that later on. But
anyhow, there’s one of those good wholesome shows back then right. But
anyhow Daniel Boone marked the wilderness road that settlers used to
get into the new lands right. He wandered over vast areas of forests and
living off the land and dodging arrows and all kinds of exciting things. He was
asked once though if he’d ever been lost. “Daniel Boone you ever been lost?” and he
said, “No,” but then he came back with, “Well I’ve never been lost but there was there
was that time I was a mite confused for about three or four days.” You call that
lost wouldn’t you right? It matters little that Boone’s pride
wouldn’t allow him to admit that he’d been lost a mite for three or four days
right, but it matters much if pride keeps us from admitting how
lost we are without our Savior. I hope that all of us will swallow our pride
and admit the truth about our sinful lost state. And I pray we’ll stand in
humbled silence before God. We’ve got nothing to stand a defense for ourselves
other than to say he died even for someone like me. That’s my only hope!
We’ll talk about that next week.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *