A study on the first three chapters of Romans
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
We so often use these few verses as a witnessing tool called the "Romans Road." The Romans Road does not start at the beginning of Romans. There are two main verses it usually starts from, and there are 70 verses in Romans before chapter 3 verse 10, and 83 verses before chapter 3 verse 23. God put everything where it is for a reason, and I believe that, by looking at this part of Scripture, the first three chapters of Romans, we can gain a new understanding of the Romans Road, and how best to use it. I'm going to give the first three chapters of Romans verbatim, and even though I won't discuss most of the verses, I think at the end you'll realize the benefit in having gone through it all, with the theme in mind, "what comes before the Romans Road."
(1) Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
(2) (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
(3) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
(4) And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
(5) By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
(6) Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
(7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
(9) For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
(10) Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
(11) For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
(12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
(13) Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
(14) I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
(15) So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
(16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
(17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
(18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
(19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
(20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
(21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
(22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
(23) And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
(24) Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
(25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
(26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
(27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
(28) And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
(29) Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
(30) Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
(31) Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
(32) Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
(1) Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
(2) But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
(3) And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
(4) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
(5) But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
(6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
(7) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
(8) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
(9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
(10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
(11) For there is no respect of persons with God.
(12) For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
(13) (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
(14) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
(15) Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
(16) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
(17) Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
(18) And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
(19) And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
(20) An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
(21) Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
(22) Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
(23) Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
(24) For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
(25) For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
(26) Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
(27) And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
(28) For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
(29) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
(1) What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
(2) Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
(3) For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
(4) God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
(5) But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
(6) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
(7) For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
(8) And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
(9) What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
(10) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
(11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
(12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(13) Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
(14) Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
(15) Their feet are swift to shed blood:
(16) Destruction and misery are in their ways:
(17) And the way of peace have they not known:
(18) There is no fear of God before their eyes.
(19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
(20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
(21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
(22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
(23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
(24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
(25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
(26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
(27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
(28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
(29) Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
(30) Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
(31) Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
There are three chapters, and so I have three points.
These chapters talk a lot about the "law." What is the law? In Luke 24:44, Jesus divides the Old Testament into the law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms. This law of Moses refers to the Pentateuch, known by Jews as the Torah—this is the Hebrew word for “law,” and refers to the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But we can also see that Paul is talking about a more specific aspect of this law. We know this by the context, because Paul has done something very interesting here—not only does Paul lay down a solid foundation of the righteousness of God, but, in doing so, he goes through every single one of the Ten Commandments—if not verbatim, at least in spirit. So Paul is talking specifically about the moral law of God, which Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount. Romans 1 covers nine of the Ten Commandments, and chapter 2 completes the ten. We should also see whom Paul is writing about. Romans 1:18 says that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Paul then gives many verses that condemn these men, but does not give us any names. Because of the context of the following chapters, and because verse 18 tells us Paul is speaking against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, we know that Paul is speaking against the entire human race. The sins he mentions are your sins and my sins, and as we will see from the Scripture, we are all guilty, not in part, but in full. Look at the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20), and see the truths reflected in Romans:
1. I am the LORD thy God... Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Romans 1:18-21 speaks of mankind, who, knowing of God, refuses to glorify and worship Him as God. This, Christ says, is the first and great commandment (Matthew 22:37), to love God above all else. Any violation of this law is the greatest sin a person can commit—we are all guilty. Not only does mankind not love God, but we hate God, as we will soon see.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. In Romans 1:23, mankind makes graven images of God, dishonoring His glorious, incorruptible nature. Any false idea of who God is or what He is like is a violation of the second commandment.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain. We can see this commandment several ways in this passage. In Romans 1:23, changing the glory of God, and saying something is God when it is nothing, just a vain image, is like taking the name of God, our holy Creator, and dragging it through the mud in vain. In verse 25, we see the same thing happening. In verse 30, we see mankind described as haters of God. Hatred of God, and using God's name profanely, is blasphemy, a violation of this commandment, against which God promises no mercy: the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Even though Paul does not literally say they "took God's name in vain," mankind no doubt breaks the spirit behind the commandment in this chapter.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Romans 1:31 describes mankind as covenantbreakers, and the Sabbath was one of God's covenants to the Jews. The Jews would take one day of seven to rest and worship God. The Sabbath day is not a binding command upon the Christian, so Paul does not specifically mention it, but he does tell us how mankind continually rebels against the spiritual laws behind the Sabbath. The way we can apply the Sabbath to our lives as Christians is that Christ should be our constant rest (see Hebrews 4), and we should do all things for the glory of God (not just one day a week). 1 Corinthians 10:31 says Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. With this in mind, look at Romans 1:28, and notice that they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. We can see that this goes against the spirit of the fourth commandment, and mankind is once again guilty.
5. Honour thy father and mother. Verse 30 clearly says they were disobedient to parents, so mankind has broken the fifth commandment. Certainly, the list of things people do in this chapter do not honor their parents. Even more than our dad on earth, the fifth commandment should speak to our hearts about God, and how we should honor our everlasting Father, which is in Heaven. Throughout chapter 1, man breaks the fifth commandment spiritually as well, by dishonoring God and His authority as Father.
6. Thou shalt not kill. Romans 1:29 tells us of the murders of mankind—it says they were filled with murders. That is the physical disobedience to the sixth commandment, but we have broken this commandment in an even worse way than killing people. In Matthew 5:22,23, Jesus equated uncaused (or wrongful) anger with the sin of murder, and 1 John 3:15 tells us that Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. But again, Romans 1:30 gives that damning phrase about mankind, haters of God. How have we hated God? Matthew 6:24 tells us that, if we love mammon—riches, wealth, and the world's system—then we hate God. Matthew 12:30 tells us that, if we are not with Christ, then we are against Him. If we do not actively seek the glory of Christ, do we not hate Him? Both by active wickedness, and by lukewarmness, mankind hates God. By 1 John 3:15, we see that mankind is spiritually guilty of murder against the most-high God. And we know this is so, for truly, we ourselves crucified Him, the Christ, when we chose to sin and rebel against Him. Mankind is guilty of murder both physically and spiritually.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. In Romans 1:24, Paul writes, Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves. We also know from what Jesus says in Matthew 5:27,28 that adultery goes deeper than the physical act: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. In Romans 1:26-29, God speaks some more of the sexual sinfulness of man. In mental lusts, such as pornography, physical adulteries and fornications, and the abominations of sodomy as in this chapter, mankind has definitely broken God's seventh commandment.
8. Thou shalt not steal. Stealing is not mentioned in chapter 1, but covetousness is, which can be thought of as the spiritual equivalent to theft. However, stealing is mentioned in chapter two: Romans 2:15 asks the Jew, Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Yet we have all stolen something at one point or another—software, grades, employer's time (by slacking off), and God's precious time He gives us on this earth (we are bought with a price—1 Corinthians 6:19,20).
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness. In Romans 1:25, man changes the truth of God into a lie, thereby breaking the ninth commandment. Verse 29 tells us of mankind's propensity to deceit. Sometimes we may tell something that is literally true, but with the intent to deceive. In so doing, we break the ninth commandment in spirit, and in God's eyes.
10. Thou shalt not covet. Romans 1:29 tells us that mankind is full of covetousness and envy. When we want things, we dishonor the God who provides for all our need, and who takes care of the sparrow and clothes the lilies.
We have already seen the truth of the Ten Commandments placed in this section of Romans. And remember, all this is before the Romans Road even begins! What has Paul done here? He has not just stated, but has proved the total wickedness and utter depravity of mankind. Who, going through this list, can stand up and claim innocence? The Scriptures have shown that you are a sinner, and not just that, but also exactly how you are a sinner, and why you have no hope without Christ, and deserve the full measure of God's wrath. Pretend you are lost. Perhaps you even are. When you understand this part of Romans, before the Romans Road, God's judgment against you is certain! The fact that you deserve nothing but Hell is crystal clear. This is the main purpose of the law, and specifically, of the Ten Commandments. God's judgment is based upon a righteous standard. We can see more about that judgment in chapter 2, verse 2.
Romans 2:2 tells us that the judgment of God is according to truth. Verse 6 says God will render to every man according to his deeds. But can a person really be punished for something he didn't even know was wrong? What about remote tribes in Africa? Remember, chapter 1 was a judgment against all mankind—even those who have never heard of Jesus. Romans 1:19 says men know of God—that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. Verse 20 says: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Why is mankind without excuse, even the remote tribes of Africa? How does all mankind know at least some of God's truth? Romans 2:14,15 gives us an important truth: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. All men have the law of God written upon their heart, and God has given us all a conscience to discern right from wrong. The word "conscience" is simply "con" and "science." Con means with, and science means knowledge, so every time we sin, we do it with knowledge that it's a crime against God. Go to that remote tribe in Africa, who has never heard of the Bible or Jesus, and you will find something amazing. They know they were made by a Creator—Psalm 19:1 tells us: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. You will find they know it's wrong to steal. You'll find they know it's wrong to murder, and to lie, and to commit adultery. Even a willingly blinded atheist can tell you that much. God has written His moral law, particularly the Ten Commandments, upon the heart of man, and because He has put His truth within us, we are without excuse when He judges us. Consider again the judgment of God, in Romans 2:6: Who will render to every man according to his deeds: and jump to verses 9-12: (9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (11) For there is no respect or persons with God. (12) For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. Those that do not have the law of Moses—the first five books of the Bible—will perish without the law: they will be judged by the law of their own conscience, and will be found guilty of rebellion against the known law of nature. The Jews, having the light of the conscience, but also having the books of Moses, if they reject Christ and are judged by the law, will be found guilty under the law, and will perish with the law. Their condemnation will be greater than that of the Gentiles, because they were given more truth, but the Gentiles are still going to burn in Hell if they don't have the blood of Christ, whether they have heard of Christ or not. They knew of God from creation, and they knew that murder, adultery, theft, lying, and so on, were bad things, by the light of their God-given conscience, yet they refused to repent, and chose to continue to live in sin, forsaking God. As Romans 3:11 says, There is none that seeketh after God. Here, we are all guilty of breaking the first, and greatest, commandment. The conscience, given to the heart of each man, will condemn each man who does not repent and trust in Christ.
Look again at Romans 2:25-29:
(25) For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. (26) Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? (27) And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? (28) For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: (29) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Notice that this passage illustrates the same principle as James 2:10: For whosoever shall keep the whole law, yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. Is this truth also in our hearts and conscience? Well, in most any courtroom on earth, if you live your whole life perfectly, and then murder a person, you cannot stand before the judge and tell him you're 99.99% sinless, and should be let go! It is a truth universal to all mankind, and the conscience of man says sin must be punished. Finally from this chapter, don't miss the important truth that the law of God judges us primarily inwardly, based on what is in our heart. Knowing from Jeremiah 17:9 that The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, all are surely guilty, and the judgment of God stands.
The Gentiles know of God, and they know right from wrong, but no one can be saved without hearing (or reading) the truth from the Scriptures, for it is written that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). We can see this truth in John 8, with the woman caught in adultery. The scribes and Pharisees tempted Jesus whether or not to stone the woman, that they might accuse Him, and Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. When they knew what He wrote, John 8:9 says they all went away, being convicted by their own conscience. There has been a lot of speculation as to what Christ wrote, but I have two things to mention about it. First, whatever it was, it we know was the word of God, coming from Christ. The Holy Spirit uses the word of God to convict sinners. Second, I think this relates to the other time in the Bible where God writes something with His own finger. Look at Exodus 31:8: And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. God wrote the Ten Commandments with His finger, and I believe that is probably what Christ wrote with His finger. The first point, from Romans 1, is about the law written in stone—the Ten Commandments. The second point, from Romans 2, is about the law written in the heart, being witnessed by the conscience. This is what Romans 2:15 means by their conscience also bearing witness—the testimony of the word of God and the testimony of the conscience agree in order to convict the sinner of crimes against God.
The first point of the Romans Road is that all have sinned. We usually mention it, and then once they agree, we move on to the next point. Many people use Romans 3:10 to begin with, so let's go to that part of Scripture, and look at the end of verse 9: ...for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; and verse 10: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. Did you notice what just happened? Our evangelistic presentation just began one verse after Paul said we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. When Paul says As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one, he has all of Romans 1 and 2 to back up his claim, because all of that reasoning about sin came before the Romans Road even began. When he says it is written, he has Psalm 14 and 53 to back up his claim, for he quotes those Psalms. The verse Paul uses as his conclusion is one many of us use as our starting point. Most people, at least in America, know about original sin. From my personal experience, when confronted about their sin, they will often reply, “Yeah, but we've all done that,” appealing to original sin instead of taking the blame themselves. We are all born with the tendency to sin, but every sin is a decision. To gloss over sin with one verse, which Scripture uses to conclude rather than to argue, is to do the sinner a grave injustice. Notice in Acts 17:2,3, that Paul ...three sabbath days reasoned out of the scriptures, (3) Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. Paul reasoned from the Old Testament, that Christ must have suffered. The reason Christ must have suffered, and certainly a part of Paul's arguments, is the personal sin of every person on earth. Paul had great patience, and took the time to reason with lost sinners point by point by point. The Romans Road is good and true. But why is it that people hear the Gospel on average eight times before getting saved? In the Parable of the Sower, we read about true converts, which spring up from good ground and bear varying amounts of fruit (see Matthew 7:16-20 for whether or not one can be saved without fruit). The distinguishing characteristic of the good-ground hearer—the true convert—is that he hears the word, and understands it. No other of the four types of hearers is said to understand the word—see Matthew 13. I believe the reason some people need to hear the Gospel several times before getting saved is that many times, the Gospel is presented without there first being an adequate understanding of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and conviction of the these things by God's Spirit, before which point none can receive grace. See James 4:6—God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. A person must first be brought to an understanding of his lost state before God before he can truly accept the Savior—he must be made lost before he will cry out and be saved.
As we continue in Romans 3, we see Paul felt the need to continue reasoning of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Even though he could have stopped with his point already made, and proven beyond any doubt, he continues preaching against sin, in Romans 3:11-18: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (13) Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: (14) Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: (15) Their feet are swift to shed blood: (16) Destruction and misery are in their ways: (17) And the way of peace have they not known: (18) There is no fear of God before their eyes. There is not much to say here except that, after all of this Scripture, there is no reasonable man who could stand before God and declare himself innocent. Some still do, but after all this truth from the Bible, they have to lie to themselves to say they're innocent. After "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," which is very true, some may understand, but many will nod there head in a “yeah, I guess so” manner, but still think that, even though they've messed up once or twice, and maybe aren't perfect, God should still let them into Heaven, because they're still pretty good people, and are still better than most. As Proverbs 21:2 says, Every way of a man is right in his own eyes. The same truth is in Proverbs 16:2, 20:6, and 30:12. A great many people are pure in their own eyes, as Proverbs 30:12 says, so we must give them the light of the Scriptures and wait for the Holy Spirit to show them their true state. This doesn't always happen in five minutes at the door, although it can. But it is important that, if the Holy Spirit has not convicted somebody of sin, we do not lead that person in a prayer and tell him he's saved, because he lacks understanding of his sin before God.
Let's look at another Scripture in Acts, Acts 24:25, speaking of Paul: And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled. Paul took time and reasoned of these negative, harsh principles, because they are so necessary to understanding why Christ really had to die on the cross. When you show people their lost state, they will often thank you. Remember that godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). There is a strong need to tear back the deep-rooted pride in the human heart, before presenting Christ. We must show the disease before presenting the cure, and show the sinner his need for the Savior, lest the preaching of the cross appear to him foolishness, and he not understand the necessity of Christ's atoning death. Remember again that God resists the proud. The Bible says, in Proverbs 20:6, that Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness. This is pride, and it might take much scriptural reasoning to get it out of the way before the sinner cries out in repentance and despair, "What must I do to be saved?" at which point he will learn the simplicity of faith in Christ. Notice in Acts 24:25, that Felix trembled. He did not continue chewing his gum and repeat "yeah, I guess I'm a sinner, so what." He trembled. Let's stop trying to convince good man he's in trouble with a bad God, and start trying to convince wicked, sinful man that he deserves the wrath and anger of a holy, just God. Christianity is not a mean God in Heaven sending good people to Hell because they don't believe in His Son. It is a good, holy, righteous God in Heaven sending wicked, rotten sinners to Hell, because they rightly deserved it by their sins, and they refused to accept the only pardon for their crimes, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You may think I'm losing track of Romans 3, but the thought comes straight from the passage. Let's keep reading in Romans 3:19, and we will see something very eye-opening: (19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. First, verse 19, the purpose of the law. It was given that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. You ask people if they think they're going to Heaven, and they say, sure, because I'm a good person. But when people see the Ten Commandments, and realize especially how Jesus brought them to light, they will see their true sinfulness before God. They will see that, not only is it a sin to kill, but if they are angry without cause, then they are murderers, because of the attitude of their heart. When they see that God not only judges sexual relations, but also lustful thoughts as adultery, their mouth will be stopped. The sinner's mouth always tries to justify himself—many people will talk on and on of how they give to charity, go to church or mass, fast twice in the week, and give tithes of all they possess, but then the law of God hits them, their mouths stop justifying themselves. Imagine you're talking to a friend in the car, just gabbing away, and suddenly you notice flashing lights in the mirror, and you look at your speedometer, only to notice you're going 50 miles an hour in a school zone. Your jaw drops, and you forget whatever it was you were talking about. Your mouth has literally stopped. The law entered, and you were found guilty beyond any doubt. It is the same way that the law of God works against the sinner's conscience. This is the same attitude that led to salvation when Peter preached at Pentecost, and in Acts 2:37, the Bible reads, Now when they had heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? It is at this point that the evangelist can reply as Peter did, "Repent!" and tell them to change their heart and mind about God and sin, and turn to Christ in humility and faith. They do not have to cry out, but they must be humble, and the second half of Romans 3:19 tells us that law was given that all the world may become guilty, and humble, before God. Biblical evangelism is always, without exception, law to the proud, and grace to the humble. Still looking at Romans 3:19,20, consider the second verse, number 21, the law being given that no flesh shall be justified in God's sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Consider the rich young ruler, who thought he was a very good person. He came and asked Jesus, in Matthew 19:16, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life? Jesus, knowing his heart and his self-righteousness, challenged his understanding of the word "good," saying in Matthew 19:17, there is none good but one, that is, God. And then Jesus said something very shocking, which we would consider downright heretical, telling him, if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He did not tell him to "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," and don't let anybody tell you that the reason was dispensational. Every man who will make Heaven, throughout all ages, must be saved by grace through faith, and by the blood of Christ, without the deeds of the law, for all men are equally sinners, unable to save themselves, and that is why Christ absolutely had to die. No, the rich young ruler simply needed to have faith to be saved—to trust Jesus alone for his salvation. But he could not trust Christ, because he trusted in himself that he was righteous. It is an absolute abomination in the sight of God for any man to think himself worthy of eternal life—to think himself righteous in God's eyes. Proverbs 6:16,17 makes it clear that pride is an abomination before God—He hates it, and nobody is going to get saved so long as he thinks his own filthy rags are good enough. Christ gave him several of the Ten Commandments, and the rich young ruler replied in the face of God, All these things have I kept from my youth up. For Christ to reply "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," would be impersonal, and would probably not bring personal conviction of personal sin against God, and God alone. For Christ to tell him he was a sinner when he thought he was good would go against the principle in Romans 3:19,20, which we've just looked at. Instead, Christ, the Master Evangelist, strove to give him knowledge of sin, by the law of God. Jesus kept probing for his sin, and told him, in verse 21, to sell all he had and give to the poor, in order to receive Heaven. Christ gave him the essence of the first commandment, Thou shalt have no other gods before me, and showed him that money was his god. Jesus only wanted him to be willing to give it up—and then it's possible He may have said "Well, never mind doing that, but now that you are humble and see your past sin and that you must love God more than money, you must simply trust Me, the Christ, to give you eternal life." But the rich young ruler would not repent, for he loved money more than God, and went away sorrowful—this is the sorrow of the world as in 2 Corinthians 7:10. He did not have any sorrow toward God about personally offending Him and His laws, but he cried over his own selfish desires. A lost sinner should be even more concerned about having offended God than he is about the punishment for doing so. David cried out in Psalm 51:4, Against thee, and thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight, that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Sinners must see that their sin is primarily against God, and the first and great commandment has excellent use in evangelism because of this, just as Jesus used it to convict the rich young ruler of his sin.
Even though we're going all over the place, there's still more to see in Romans 3. Let's continue in verse 21: (21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference. Point 1 is the law written in stone; point 2 is the law written in the conscience; and here, in verse 21, we see our third point: the law written in order to point to Christ. What is the righteousness of God without the law? Consider that, in context, the previous verse speaks of justification. Also notice that the next verse, 22, says that the righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe. What we get by believing in Christ, and are able to have because of His faithfulness in being perfect and dying unto salvation, is salvation. The righteousness of God is given to us in salvation. We know the prophets foretold Christ and His salvation, but verse 21 tells us that the law also points us to the salvation of Christ, because it manifests, or shows us, the righteousness of God. The law shows us that there is absolutely no way we can keep it perfectly to get to Heaven, and that the only we way we can have the righteousness of God is by faith in Christ Jesus. Paul tells us a lot more about the law in the book of Galatians, but we will only look at a few verses in chapter 3. First, look at Galatians 3:22: But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. In context, the previous verse tells us that it's talking about the law, so we can understand the Scripture in this verse as including the law. It shows us that we're all sinners—and why does it do that? That we might be saved through faith in Christ! Verse 23 tells us that the law comes before faith—the biblical principle is law before grace—law before grace! Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance! And if one verse can summarize everything I've gone through here, it is Galatians 3:24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. The law is our schoolmaster—it will teach us our sin. The Ten Commandments will spank us as a harsh schoolmaster, and will break our will, with its ten cannons pointing at the sinner's conscience. As Romans 4:15 says, the law worketh wrath. And the law does all this, showing us our sin, in Galatians 3:24, for one glorious purpose: to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. The law points us to Christ! The law brings sinners to Christ! How many of us actually use the law in evangelism? That is its purpose! If you only want to carry a New Testament to witness, then that's your preference, but still, use the law! Jesus uses the law in Matthew 5, and in the first and great commandment. Paul uses the law in Romans 1-3! All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God is not the argument we make to the sinner! It is the conclusion! Can people be saved by the Romans Road? They can and do. But can they be saved without the law? I will let the Scripture speak to your heart on that, but I will say that they cannot be saved without humility before God, and it is the purpose of the law to bring that humility, and that realization of sin, in order that Christ might be lifted up before the sinner. And I will say that nobody is ever saved before they are lost. And I fear most of us in the modern church have forsaken God's primary method of getting a person lost, which is His holy, perfect law. The next verse in our reading of Romans 3 is verse 23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Let's give sinners that verse—it's a wonderful verse. But let's not completely overlook the wonderful truths that are taught in the 83 previous verses in Romans. To do so will make it more likely that we create false converts of ourselves instead of true converts of God. They may agree with everything we say, and they may say they understand, but an agreement of being a sinner (which is such a general term), or a recollection of having sinned, is radically different than a Holy-Spirit given conviction of sin, and it is the Holy Spirit's job, in John 16:8, to reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. 1 John 3:4 says sin is the transgression of the law, and Romans 3:20 says by the law is the knowledge of sin, so how then is it we want to tell people they are sinners, who have never heard of what sin is, and have never heard of the law? Why not tell them the law, and let the Holy Spirit tell them they are sinners—and not just sinners, but filthy, rotten, vile sinners?!
Just a few more passages of Scripture before I conclude. First, Romans 7: Romans 7, verse 7 says this: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. We cannot expect lost people to know about sin if we don't show them the law, because not even the Apostle Paul understood sin before the law came! And specifically, he speaks of the Ten Commandments, mentioning commandment number ten. Did Paul think he was perfect before the law? That's doubtful, but he probably thought he was good. Not many people think they're perfect, but most people think they're good, as we have already seen in Proverbs. Paul continues, in Romans 7:8: (8) But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. (Concupiscence refers to evil desires.) For without the law sin was dead. (9) For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. (10) And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. (11) For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. (12) Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (13) Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. This term in verse 13 is a very important one. We can get any old person off the street to agree with us that he is a sinner, but salvation does not begin by accepting the obvious fact that one is a sinner; salvation begins with the convicting power of the Holy Ghost showing the soul what Paul terms the "exceeding sinfulness" of sin. The Holy Spirit does this through the law—it was the law in verse 13 that worked death in Paul, and made his sin exceeding sinful. Psalm 19:7 says The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul. This is the purpose of the law, and its purpose in salvation—to bring knowledge of sin and conviction thereof—is done before the Romans Road, and really, as part of the first step, reasoning about sin. 1 Timothy 1 shows us the purpose of the law, so let's look at verses 8-11: (8) But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; (9) Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, (10) For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; (11) According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. If we use the law lawfully, and for the purpose for which it was made, it becomes the key to breaking a sinner's heart, through the door of his conscience. With nowhere else to go, the condemned sinner can run only to the foot of the blood-stained cross, in humble faith toward Christ.
Finally, let us conclude with Romans 5, verses 20 and 21: (20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
All of this study has been on God's means of making sin abound—it seems like a very negative thing. But with the weight of sin so heavy upon the shoulders of every lost man, the more he feels the weight, the more he will seek Christ, and that is the beauty of the law—it exalts the Christ who saves us from it. The wrath of the law only serves to illuminate the marvelous mercy and grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Did God's Word speak to your heart? I'm not asking if any of my words spoke to you. Just reading through three straight chapters of Scripture, did God speak to your heart? If He didn't, then you might want to have your heart checked. Can you go through three chapters of solid Scripture and get nothing from God? The Bible says that understanding comes from above—no man can get anything from the Bible without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Do you have the witness of the Holy Spirit inside you, showing you you are saved, and has there been a time in your life when you realized you had no hope of your own, and ran to Jesus Christ in faith? Is your life different as evidence of Christ's power working in your heart? If you have not been born again, do you now understand your sin? Jesus said looking with sexual lust is the same as adultery in God's eyes, and the Bible says whoever hates his brother is a murderer. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). God will either judge you for your sins, and give you the Hell you deserve, or the blood of Jesus Christ will wash all your sins away, and God will judge you as pure by what Jesus did for you on the cross. Are you willing to do anything for Jesus? You should be. But you have already failed, and you can do nothing except call upon His name. If you are ready to trust Christ, the Bible has an amazing promise for you: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).