The Dark Side - Romans 3:10-26 - Nate Heitzig
God isn't really something to worship.
He's just going to destroy all of us.
I guess there's a God out there somewhere.
I hope there is a God.
God isn't really something to worship.
God is everywhere.
Well, good morning and welcome to Calvary Church. Who's excited to be in the house today? Great to be here with you. Turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 3, we're going to in verses 10 through 26 as we continue in our series 2020 Seeing Truth Clearly.
And last week pastor Skip gave a great message talking about as we've moved into the doctrine of anthropology. That is the doctrine of man-- of mankind. And we saw last week that in the beginning God created man in his own image, and this as we already pointed out is a truly incredible and wonderful thing. And he created us not only in his image outwardly, but he created us in His image in so many different facets and unique characteristics. And that cannot be said of any of God's other creations besides man.
Man stands apart with some very unique characteristics. And one of those qualities of man, one of my favorites is the recognition that there's something more to life. Have you ever felt that that there's something more? Even at a very young age before you were a Christian, before you heard the gospel you just felt that there had to be something more, there had to be something greater?
And so we strive for this as human beings to reach out to something more than what is here on this earth or, as Scripture says, he has set eternity in man's hearts. He has set eternity in their hearts. Now if you spend too long thinking about eternity, your brain will just like blow up because it's hard to even fathom and understand eternity. But God has said eternity within our hearts, a desire for eternity, a desire for something greater.
Now although we are created in the image of God and that's beautiful and wonderful to think about. When we think about that truth, for me it's a comforting thought to think about that. But there is a dark side to us, isn't there? It's not all gumdrops and lollipops.
I wished that whenever somebody looked at my life or looked at any of our lives, they just saw Jesus. But that's not the case, is it? Why? Because we have a dark side.
And that's the title of this message this weekend, and it is the dark side. And just because it's Halloween weekend, I'm not going to be talking about Star Wars or Darth Vader. This is about the dark side, which really is our very nature which is the fall. And we're going to be talking about the fall of mankind and the sin nature that each and every one of us has.
One way that I like to describe this sin nature or this fall, this dark side that we have is, well, we have eternity in our hearts and we're striving for more and we're striving for greater and we desire this relationship with our eternal creator. Sometimes it feels like we just hit an invisible wall, doesn't it? Have you ever felt that? Like, you so want to be better. You so want to be good. You so want to follow Jesus, but sometimes it feels like you just hit a wall and you can't understand why that is. It repels us.
Well, the problem is with mankind. The problem is with you and I, and it's called sin. Now sin is a word that's gone completely out of fashion. People don't want to talk about sin anymore.
People don't want to be told they're a sinner. They don't want to be told they're wrong. They want to be petted and assuaged and told that they're great and beautiful and unique snowflakes. Nobody wants to be told that they're a sinner in this day and age. And another word that regularly accompanies the word sin is another word that people don't want to think about, and that is the word guilt.
Sin and guilt are two things that our society today wants nothing to do with, and that's because we like to believe that as humans we're basically good, don't we? We like to think that we're OK. That we've got it all together. And that belief is reinforced by psychologists, by counselors, and even by a great many religious leaders.
And an outgrowth of that is self-esteem, self-esteem. Now self-esteem is the operative phrase of the day. People don't want to be talking about sin or guilt. They want to talk about self-esteem. In a survey conducted in 1940, 11% of women and 20% of men agreed with this statement I am an important person. Jumped to the 1990s those figures jumped up to 66% of women and 62% of men believing that they are an important person. Jump to today that number is around 80% of people will agree with the statement, I am an important person.
Another poll done by Gallup 90% of people surveyed said that their sense of self-esteem is robust and healthy, and yet amazingly as we look at society today the fabric of society is deteriorating. Things are getting worse and worse, and yet we're feeling better and better about ourselves. Isn't it interesting how that correlation is happening? Society, the fabric of society the fabric of what you and I hold dear seems to be slowly unraveling and deteriorating, and yet self-esteem is thriving.
But let me ask you a question. Does self-esteem make us better people? Does thinking we're good make us good? Does thinking we're righteous make us righteous? Does thinking that everything's OK make everything OK?
An article by USAA today hit on the other side of this coin, and it did an article called Self Esteem's Dark Side Emerges, and it says this. "as we squander money building students egos, we feed crime. We've heard it so often that none of us question whether it's actually true. You've got to feel good about yourself in order to succeed.
The crusade to improve self-esteem has invaded every sector of life, public and private, but nowhere more pervasively than education. School reformers have spent millions of in the past two decades trying to raise the self-esteem of poor achievers, and now a new study published in the American Psychological Association suggests that raising self-esteem might actually be dangerous, especially among individuals whose inflated sense of self-worth doesn't comport with reality." And we're all like, duh, of course. Participation trophies don't help anybody.
According to three research psychologists who evaluated dozens of studies of violent behavior, high self-esteem is more often associated with violence than low self-esteem. Isn't that interesting? Right now we have a generation of fragility, a generation that doesn't ever want to be told that they're wrong. They never want to be told that they failed. They never want to be told that they can't do something.
And we have a generation that gets participation trophies in sports that they're not good at, a generation that doesn't want to get an F in a class. They just want to be told that if they try hard enough that they're going to succeed. We have a generation that is told if you believe in anything sincerely enough that it can be true, and the second someone tells them that they've lost or that they're wrong or that they don't get their way or they fail they lose their minds.
I challenge you. Try this. You might not want to but it'd be funny. This week in 2020 try telling anybody that they're wrong about anything. Oh my goodness. The vitriol and hatred that you get from them, because they might be wrong about something. Anything, it could be anything. And if you tell them that they're wrong, they just can't handle that that truth or that reality that there's a possibility that they've made a mistake.
And so they blame other people. Somebody else must be to blame. Somebody else must be wrong. I can't be wrong. You must be wrong.
You know the Bible tells us that this is one of the very signs of the end days. In 2 Timothy 3:1-- it's going to be on the screens-- it says this. "There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power." Doesn't that sound like it was ripped from the headlines of 2020? I mean that sounds like a perfect description of society today.
But we say I'm not responsible for my actions. I'm a victim. I have a disorder. I have a disease.
In his book, A Nation of Victims, Charles Sykes writes the. The politics of victimization have taken the place of more traditional expressions of morality and equity. If you lose a job, you can sue for mental distress of being fired. If your bank goes broke, the government will insure your deposit. If you drive drunk and crash, you can sue someone for failing to warn you or cutting you off.
Our problems today are a result of being a victim, which is the result of some syndrome or disorder. There is always someone else to blame. No one is guilty anymore.
And that really leads us to this pesky thing that we talked about before, which is called guilt. Nobody likes feeling guilty for anything. Nobody likes to feel shame for something they've done.
As a matter of fact, Angelina Jolie the actress said, I don't believe in guilt. I believe in living on impulse. I think you should live completely free. Obviously she doesn't think that Brad should live completely free, because he lived on impulse and she didn't want him to but she should.
Why is it that we feel guilt? Let me ask you maybe a better question. Should we feel guilt? Should we experience guilt? Is it good, or like society is telling us is it a bad thing?
What about sin? Is sin real? Is there somebody who's defining and setting a list of things that are right and wrong, or are we all just victims with diseases? And is self-esteem the answer to our problems today. Well, I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of hearing what society in Hollywood has to say about this topic. So let's see what God says let's turn to Romans chapter 3 and read verses 10 through 20.
"There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands. There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is none who does good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open tomb. With their tongues, they have practiced deceit. The poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. 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. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law that every mouth might be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God.
Therefore, by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For by the law is the knowledge of sin." Let's stop there. We're going to read the rest of those verses in just a second.
But here Paul addresses the issue, and that is this. Men feel guilty for one reason. They are. You and I feel guilty for one reason. We are.
We are guilty. We should feel guilt. We should feel shame, because we collectively as a society, as mankind have done things that we should feel guilty about. See the guilt feeling is only the symptom of the real problem. The real problem isn't guilt. The real problem is sin.
Now I do believe that there is a problem to a certain extent with self-esteem in this culture. I think it's good to be sure in who God created you to be. It's good to have esteem in God and who God made you to be. And I also think that some Christians really struggle with guilt in an unhealthy way. I've known who come, they give their lives to Christ, they're forgiving of their sins, they've repented of their sins, but they can't get away from the guilt of what they've done in their past. And so they're constantly living in their past rather than in the new creation that Christ has made them to be, and that's unhealthy.
But the opposite is also true. People who have not confessed their sins should feel guilt. Put it this way. If your sin is confessed, then you shouldn't feel guilt because it's been forgiven. But if your sin is unconvinced you should feel guilt because you haven't addressed the real problem. And all the psychological counseling in the world cannot relieve a person of this kind of guilt.
You can pretend it's not there. You can find someone else to blame for your problems, but the only real and effective way to remove guilt is to get to the root of the problem, which plainly is sin. Donald Grey Barnhouse put it this way.
He said, "man stands before God today like a little boy who swears with crying tears that he has not been anywhere near the jam jar and with an air of outraged innocence pleads the justice of his position, in total ignorance of the fact that a good spoonful of the jam has fallen just on his shirt under his chin and is plainly visible to everyone but himself." It's a perfect description of society, of mankind.
We like to plead our innocence, say that we're good, say that we haven't done anything. All the while the jam is sitting on our shirt showing the world and showing God that we indeed are guilty. In this passage, it's says though we are in God's courtroom and Paul is allowing us to give our defense and he patiently wait as each and every person gives every known excuse for why they've done what they've done or why they deserve to go to heaven, well, it was my upbringing and that's why I am the way that I am.
I'm not actually that bad. There's other people who are worse than me. I didn't know that this was the truth. No one told me that there was right and wrong. And then with absolute precision, he systematically destroys every potential argument that we have for why we think we're good, and that's what a good chunk of Romans is about.
And at the end, no one is left standing. The Holy Spirit shows through Paul that every single one of us has sinned, everyone-- the ignorant pagan who doesn't know the difference, the religious person who thinks that they're doing a number of religious things and that's going to make them good, the moralist who thinks that if they're just a good person and are kind to people then that's going to be enough. And beginning with verse 10 and continuing through verse 18, Paul introduces before the current court as it were a testimony, the testimony of God's word as revealed in the Old Testament. Let's look at our first point, and that is that you and I are charged by our conduct.
Let's read versus 10 through 17 again. And as we do we're going to see that Paul breaks this section up into 13 different charges, and they're presented in three different categories. The first category verses 10 through 12 is concerning the character. That is to say the innermost being, not the outward man that the world sees, not the outward actions of good and bad but the inward heart.
Next, Paul transitions to the conversation. In verses 13 through 14, he addresses things that come from our lips, things that come from our mouth. And then finally he addresses our conduct in verses 15 through 17. This is the outworking. This is the outward actions that the world actually sees, and as we go through this is important to understand that he put this in order for a reason.
Because there's some people out there who say I'm a good person, because I do good things. But then the question is, OK, you do good things, but do you always say good things? When you're in a room with certain people, are there things that come out of your mouth? Do you tear people down?
Do you lie? Do you slander? Do you gossip?
And then Paul carries it, and he says, OK, maybe you do good things and you say good things. But what about your heart? Do you think bad things? Do you think evil things? Where is your heart in this situation? So Paul systematically gives us an understanding of if you want to be a good person and go to heaven based on your good works and your law, this is the criteria.
Let's read again versus 10 through 17. "There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands. There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is none who does good, no, not one."
Now Paul moves from the character, and he addresses the conversation. "Their throat is an open tomb with their tongues. They have practiced deceit. The poison of asps is under their lips whose math is full of cursing and bitterness."
And now verse 15 through 17 he shifts to our conduct. "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."
In verse 10 Paul starts it off and he says, "there is none righteous, no, not one." Now I don't know about you, but it's easy to read that and say Paul that seems a little extreme. I mean, there is some righteous people in the world, right? I mean, you've got to be righteous Paul. The apostles have to be righteous. There's got to be some good people some righteous people in the world.
But it's essential to know that what Paul is speaking of is he's speaking of something that is not under your control, because again he's not speaking of outward righteousness. He's speaking of inward character. And he's speaking of a built in sin nature that you have absolutely no control over, because somebody named Adam made a choice thousands of years ago that brings that sin nature and is built into you because of the decisions that Adam and Eve made within the garden.
It's essential to understand this, because again he's talking about the innermost being. This is a sinful nature that we inherited through Adam, the dark side. Let's put it this way. My sins don't make me a sinner. My sins are simply evidence of the truth, and that is that I am a sinner.
Or put it this way. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin, because we're sinners. The reason you and I sin is because we have a built in sin nature. You don't teach a baby how to sin. That built in sin nature ultimately gets expressed, because they're sinners.
David recognized this when he wrote in Psalm 51, "behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." a similar description of our sinful nature is found in Psalm 58:3. He says, "the wicked are estranged from the womb. They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking the lies." Paul again affirms this when he says, "we were by nature the children of wrath like the rest of mankind."
You and I are born with a sin nature. Now of course we don't all commit the same sins. You and I each struggle with unique things that are hardwired into us because of that sin nature. There are certain predispositions that you might have because of that sin nature, and I also believe even though all sin is level of the foot of the cross, and it's viewed the same by Jesus, there are some sins that are in many ways worse than others because of the physical consequences that they bring.
And certainly there is an innocence in a child, especially a small one. Who in here has had kids before or has kids now? Do remember holding your baby the first time and looking at your baby the first time? It was so innocent and pure.
You didn't look at your baby for the first time and say you little sinner. No, that thought didn't even come to your mind. That baby could do no wrong. It was perfect but not for long.
Give it a few months and that sin nature becomes manifested in its actions. It begins to do things that you didn't have to teach. You didn't have to teach it to lie. You didn't have to teach it to steal. You didn't have to teach your baby how to throw a tantrum when it doesn't get what it wants.
The sin nature is alive and well in each and every one of us. Verse 10, Paul says again there is none righteous, no, not one. Then he carries it on a little bit further in verse 12. And he says not only is there none righteous, but there is no one who does any good. There is no one who does good, no, not one.
Now again, we can read this and say, Paul, that's a bit melodramatic. There is a lot of people who do good things. There is a lot of people who do kind things.
We have nurses and doctors. They do good things. We have strangers who help little old ladies across the road. That's a good thing to do.
Now what Paul is saying, again, he's not addressing our outward actions. Remember he's addressing our inward character, and he's addressing what the definition of good is and also who gets to define the definition of what good is. See this does not mean that man does not do commendable things, because there are people who are great humanitarians and heroes today. I like you have met many nonbelievers who were good people, honest, caring, considerate-- sometimes by the way, even more so than professed Christians, which is a serious indictment on the church.
But that's not what this message is talking about. That's not the issue being dealt with here. God is not saying that there is no good in man in general. Rather he is saying that there is no good in man that can satisfy God. That's the distinguishing factor here.
There is no good with inside you or me that can satisfy God. Paul said in Romans 8:8, those that are in the flesh cannot please God. The word righteous means one who is such as he ought to be. And when the Bible says there is no one righteous, he is not speaking so much of behavior. But again of inner character.
See God's standards are high to say the least. God's standards if you want to know what God's standards are for you to get into heaven based off of your own works is that you must be absolutely perfect, absolutely perfect not just in your outward conduct verses 15 through 17, you must always do good. You must never do bad.
You must perpetually do good. You must also perpetually speak good you can never say anything bad about anybody, never slander anybody. And also your thoughts, you can never think bad about anybody. You can ever think evil thoughts or impure thoughts or selfish thoughts. You must be 100% absolutely perfect.
Jesus described it in Matthew 5:48 a step further, and He said, "You are to be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." In other words, if you want to know how good you have to be to get into heaven, you have to be as good as God. Anyone want to try to take that challenge on?
Anyone want to stand and say, yeah, I'm as good as God. Whew! It's a dangerous statement to claim. In other words, a person who is not as good as God is not acceptable to God. See, man is not basically good, he's basically sinful.
And before you say, well, that's not fair, Nate. That's not a fair test. No one can accomplish that. Nobody can ace that test. That's the point.
And also, do you realize that we have certain tests in society today that determine how good you are for you to be able to achieve a certain profession or thing that you want to do? Follow me, here. You can really, earnestly desire, sincerely, to be a brain surgeon. You can say, if I was a brain surgeon, I'd help so many people. I'd help-- I'd be a pro bono brain surgeon.
I'd do the best things in the world. I'd be the best brain surgeon. But if you're not good enough to pass the test for medical school, you're not good enough to be a brain surgeon. You might sincerely want to be a lawyer and say, I would be the best lawyer. I want to be a lawyer so bad. But if you're not good enough to pass the bar exam, you're not good enough to be a lawyer.
You can earnestly desire to be a football player or a baseball player professionally. But if you can't throw a ball or run fast, you're not good enough to be a professional sports player. There are certain things in life that there is a test by which we must be tested in order to see if we're good enough to achieve the desired goal.
And the test to see if you're good enough to get to heaven on your own is that you must be absolutely perfect. Now, if that offends you and you say, well, that's just not fair, you might want to stop now because it doesn't get much better. Let's look at verse 11. Paul carries it a step further, and he says, "None seek after God."
So not only is there none righteous, there's none good, there's no one who even seeks after God. Now, you would think that with all the religious belief systems, this simply could not be true. Paul is not saying that man is not religious. Because unfortunately, we are incurably so.
Rather, Paul is saying that religion is man's search for God. Well, Christianity is God's search for man. See, a lot of us want to have this quest by which we find righteousness, by which we find God. We want to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, pull ourselves out of the muck and the mire, and we want to be the ones to find God, and in doing so, believe that that will make us righteous.
But Christianity is based on the fact that it's not until we humble ourselves and give up and say, I can't do this journey on my own, so I'm going to sit here in the muck and the mire until you find me. And then when you find me, I will graciously give my life to you. And in doing so, that is where I'll find righteousness.
See, God was never lost. We are. And God is seeking to save that which was lost. See, the bottom line why many don't want to come to Jesus Christ is simply because they bristle at the thought that they are hopelessly sinful. They just can't take the step to admit that they're wrong, to admit that they are marred by the stain of sin, to admit that they don't have it all togheter, that they don't understand everything.
They can't come to that place and admit that they need Jesus. They're unwilling to accept God's assessment as to the sinful nature of their being. And so they say, I don't like that diagnosis, God, I don't like that test. That seems unfair. So I'm going to get a second opinion.
I'm going to go into the world and see what the world has to say about how good I am. I'm going to go to self-help books, and gurus, and Hollywood, and the gym, and I'm going to do drugs, and alcohol, and find women or men who can please me, and I'm going to find my self-worth and satisfaction there, because I don't like your opinion. But understand this. There was no one else that you can go to who will tell you the truth besides Jesus.
He's the only one who will tell you the truth about who you are. Think of it this way. Let's say that you're going to the doctor for a routine checkup, and in the midst of the checkup and doing all the tests, the doctor says that he found something that's concerning on a scan. And he thinks that it might be cancer.
He tells you that he wants to do a few more tests on you, because potentially, you could die of this cancer if you don't take it seriously. You have two options at that point, you can either trust the doctor and the medical experience and the knowledge that he has, and submit yourself to him and say, all right, I'm all yours. Do what you gotta do, let's take care of this.
Or you can say, I don't like your opinion. I don't like that you told me that I'm sick or that I have cancer. So I'm going to go get a second opinion.
And you go out into the street and you find Joe Schmo and you say, hey, I'll give you $100 if you tell me that I'm OK. Well, that's the easiest money that guy's ever made. It doesn't mean it's true.
There's only one person you can go to who will tell you the truth and help you with your predicament, and that's the doctor. The same is true with our spiritual life. Some of us don't like the opinion that God has given of our character and we don't want to submit to His knowledge, and His guidance, and let Him change us, and transform us, and help us grow.
And so we say, I'm going to go to the world. So I'm going to give this book, or this doctor, or this person my money to tell me that I'm OK. But there's no one else who will tell you the truth except for Jesus. The very fact that men react against this teaching is simply one more proof of it.
They love the lie that they are good more than the truth that they are sinners. So now we've seen up to verse 17 that the charges have been leveled against us. Now, let's move to our second point, and that is the judgment is issued. The charges have been leveled and now the judgment is issued.
Let's look at verse 18 through 20 as we see our next point, judged by His word. "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 Go", underline that word, guilty, "Therefore, by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
In verse 18, just before that, Paul says, that "There is none who fear God." No one has the fear of God. And in the first chapter of Romans, this was mentioned as the reason for humanity falling into sin in the first place. Romans 1:28 says, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind to do those things that are not fitting."
The fear of God is so important within a believer's life. I believe it's one of the crucial things that we have to understand, and understand, really, what it is. Because there's a lot of misconceptions about what the fear of God is. The fear of God is not like Bruce Almighty talks about, a giant bully with a magnifying glass burning aunts and worthy ants.
That's not what the fear of God is about. It's not some horror film type of fear, when we see God we shriek and we're terrified of Him. It's not the fear of discipline, it's the fear of displeasing.
Proverbs 16:6 says, "By the fear of the Lord, one keeps away from evil." This is why during the tribulation period, things get so spiritually dark, because the church is raptured and man casts off all restraint. Or as we talked about a few weeks ago when we addressed the Holy Spirit, when the Holy Spirit is removed, and the salt and light-- you and I-- are taken away, the mystery of lawlessness will be revealed because there is no one on Earth that has the fear of the Lord, has the knowledge of God.
And as you read all the passages in the Bible concerning the fear of the Lord, you quickly realize it's not about being frightened by God or what He will do to you, rather, it's a word that speaks of awe and reverence. It is a wholesome dread of displeasing Him because of what He's done for you. This is why the Scripture says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
If you can get to this place within your life, everything else will fall into balance. If you can have a healthy fear of God, and if you can combine that with a love for God, you will get to the place of understanding why we serve God, why we do things for God, why we read our Bible. We don't read our Bible because it's like a test, and if we don't read our Bible, we're going to fail on the principal's going to slap our hands with a ruler.
We don't serve God out of fear that if we fail to do so we're going to get in trouble. We do so because we love God. We do so because we have a holy awe that we don't want to displease Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9 says, "So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it also is plain for your conscience."
And then, in 2 Corinthians 5:14, just five versus later, he says, "The love of Christ constrains me. The love of Christ constrains me." Let's read verse 19 again, Paul says, in Romans chapter 3, "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."
There is an important realization that we come to here in this place, and that is this. The law was not given to make a person righteous. As a matter of fact, it's impossible for the law to make a person righteous. Paul says, "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." The law was meant to show us beyond the shadow of a doubt that every single one of us is a sinner.
Galatians tells us it was like a schoolmaster driving us to Christ. When we look at all the righteous requirements of the law, it should drive us to Christ. We like to think that it's there to make us righteous. And many people do believe that the law is there to make you righteous. They're like, man, it's just 10 things. So if I do those 10 things, then I'm good, that's all I've got to do.
But there's so much more than that, because these 10 things grow as we talk about things of the heart, things of the mind, things of the mouth. It's more than just not murdering somebody, it's not hating somebody. It's more than just not having sex with somebody, it's not lusting after them with your eyes.
It's more than just not stealing from somebody, it's having envy and jealousy about what that person has and wanting what that person has. I mean, that's Instagram 101, right? Instagram should just be called Jealousygram. It's like, just, what does that person have? I want that. I want what they have.
It's hardwired into us. It's not meant to make us righteous. It's meant to show us that it's impossible for us to be righteous. It's meant to show us how unrighteous we are. Because apart from Christ, we are hopeless.
Verse 20, Paul continues on. He says, "By the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight." I want to point this out because we're going to come back to this in just a second. It doesn't say that there's no possibility of being justified.
Rather, it says, "By the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified." By the law, by keeping commandments, by trying to be good, there is no possibility of being justified. See, the law is just a moral mirror. It's all the law is.
If you go look in the mirror this afternoon and you don't like what you see, you can't blame the mirror. It's not the mirror's fault. And also, the mirror can't change you. The mirror is not there to change you.
You can't look in the mirror and say, I don't like that, let's try another one, and then it will change you. No, the mirror is simply there to show you, to challenge you, to tell you, hey, if you don't like what you see, do something about it. Go to the gym, start eating better, go to bed earlier.
It's just meant to show you what's there, not to change what's there. It condemns, it doesn't convert. It challenges, it doesn't change. It points the finger, it doesn't show mercy.
That's what the law is. It's a mirror for us to look in and go, ooh, that's me? That's what I look like? Those are the things that I struggle with? Oh, that's bad.
And the mirror's like, yeah, it is bad. You should do something about it. What can you do about it? We're going to find the answer in just a second.
See, the law is a preparation for the gospel. The gospel is the provision. The law is just a preparation for the gospel, the gospel is the provision of the law.
Paul is saying that mankind has no defense and is guilty of all charges, but just in case there's a few exceptionally self-righteous religious people in the room that think that they're perfect, Paul kind of closes out by saying, there is no salvation through keeping the law. Even if you want to try, even if you want to give it you're good college effort, there is no salvation, there's no justification through keeping the law, because we're unable to.
No one, no matter how holy, can obey God perfectly. And under the law, there can be only one sentence. And that sentence is death. So if you want to give it a go, go for it.
If you want to try and get to heaven by being a good person, go ahead. But I want to let you know it's a battle you've already lost before you've even begun. You are already sentenced to death because it's impossible. All are guilty.
The ignorant pagan, the religious person, the moralist, all are guilty. If you were watching Law and Order, this would be the point in the show where everyone gasps. [GASPS] This is the moment in the show when Judge Jesus says, all right, can the accused stand? And everyone stands.
And some people are sitting there thinking, man, this guy's definitely guilty, but I'm OK. I'm pretty good. I go to church twice a week, I read my Bible, I sing those songs. You should hear me sing Oceans. Ooh, it's good.
We're thinking we're OK. We're thinking that the judgment is going to be set free. And then all of a sudden Jesus says, guilty. That guy? No, everyone. You're all guilty. All of humanity are guilty of having a sinful nature.
And all of us go, [GASPS]. Verse 19 says, "Every mouth might be stopped." Absolute silence is the only possible response as we realize the sin that we're guilty of and the punishment of that sin. See, before God, our best defense is useless. Our protests are ceased before they're even said. And here we are without defense because of the one who is leveling the charges.
Now, I know this all sounds pretty hopeless. You're like, man, I came to church to be encouraged today, Nate. It's 2020, this message sucks. Come on, give me something that will help me get through Tuesday. Something. It all sounds hopeless.
And I'll be honest, in one sense, it is. We've all sinned. We can't help ourselves. That's the reality. And it might cause us, like Job, to ask the question, how can a man be right before God?
Well, the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, has revealed these sins in our character, our conduct, and our conversation, to show us some simple truths. And that is that we must stop looking within ourselves for the resources and answers that we need, and instead, in absolute weakness and helplessness, we need to turn to God.
This all sounds hopeless, this all sounds bleak, but there's some good news. Romans 5:8 says, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness."
So there is no one righteous, there's no one good. We need to understand, there's somebody who will impart His good and His righteousness to you, so that when you stand before Judge Jesus you can be declared set free because of what He did, not because of what you did. And that leads us to our final point as we close, and that is that we are pardoned by His compassion.
We are charged by our conduct, we are judged by His word, but we are pardoned by His compassion. Let's read versus 21 through 26 as we come to a close. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace", underline that word, justified, "through the redemption", underline that word, "that is in Christ Jesus.
Whom set forth as a propitiation by His blood through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God has passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Scripture makes it clear there is, indeed, a way to God.
But that way is not based on anything we can do to achieve it or to merit it. John MacArthur put it this way, "As far as the way of salvation is concerned, there are only two religions that the world has ever or will ever know. The religion of divine accomplishment, which is Biblical Christianity, and the religion of human accomplishment, which includes all other kinds of religion by whatever names they might go under." Paul, up to this point in Romans, has showed us the hopelessness of our situation up to this point, but chapter 3 verse 21, Paul shifts gears.
See, he's been sharing with you the severity of your situation because you won't accept God's remedy for your sin if you don't first accept His diagnosis. Again, it's like being at a doctor and them telling you have cancer. Oftentimes, they're going to let the worst case scenario.
They're going to let you know what that cancer could do to your body and what it could ultimately lead to, which might be death. And they're going to share with you the severity of the diagnosis so that you're ready and willing to accept the remedy for the diagnosis. And that's what God has done here.
He wants you to take the remedy for sin, but He realizes you won't unless you fully understand and accept the diagnosis. The first 20 verses were the diagnosis and here is the cure. Scripture makes it clear there is a way to God.
Mark Twain was asked what the two greatest words in the English language were. Want to know what his response was? Not guilty.
Aren't those great words, especially when you know you're guilty, especially when you know you've done something wrong, hearing those words, not guilty? This is what happens in Romans at this point. That Judge who is holy, whose righteous requirements we can't possibly satisfy, in essence, takes off His robes, puts down His gavel, and comes down to us who are guilty and welcomes us in love. Verse 24 tells us how.
Verse 24, look at it with me. It says it is, "by His grace." And now we come and we're going to close with three often used words in the Christian vocabulary. And that is justification, redemption, and propitiation.
Verse 24 says that we are justified. We are justified. This means to declare the rightness of something. Not symbolically or potentially, but actually, just as if it never happened. We like to say that we are justified. It is just as if I'd never sinned.
When we come to Jesus Christ through His grace and we accept what He has given, it is just as if we had never sinned. And why is it that we are viewed in that way? It's because of the redemption that Jesus Christ has paid upon our behalf.
This is the second word, redemption. It carries the idea of delivering something, especially by the means of paying a price. It was commonly used of paying a ransom to free a prisoner from his captors or paying a price to free a slave from their master. Now, this is something that we should all readily understand because it's a popular theme in movies and TV shows. It's the hostage situation, right?
Hostages are taken by somebody, and somebody else has to pay a price for the hostage captor to release those people into freedom. Imagine how amazed you'd be if, say, in one of those TV shows, the President of the United States offered to trade himself for the hostages being held. It'd be such a great sacrifice, right? Redemption.
But God did far more than that when He offered Himself in our place to take the wrath that we deserved. He took it upon Himself. We were guilty. We weren't free, we weren't innocent.
He paid the price of Himself. He traded Himself so that we guilty sinners could be set free. This is redemption. And it is by that redemption that we are justified.
In verse 25, our last word that I want to point out is the word propitiation. It's a beautiful word. It's a word that carries the idea of total, complete appeasement or satisfaction. 100% paid for.
You need to understand this. Doesn't matter what you've done in this world, doesn't matter how unrighteous or how not good you are, doesn't matter what your past looks like, you need to understand that God is satisfied with what Jesus did at Calvary. He might not be satisfied with what we've done, but He is satisfied with what Jesus has done at Calvary.
The righteous requirements of the law were met through the person of Jesus Christ. It is completely satisfied and we can be redeemed. The price can be paid for us to experience that same justification that Jesus Christ gives, if we freely accept it by the grace in which He gives it. That's what Paul is saying.
There's none righteous, there's no one good. We're all charged by our conduct, we're all judged by His word. But if you'll let Him, He will pardon you based on His compassion. Right now, this morning, you might be trapped in some kind of a sin right now. Your situation might be helpless, it might look hopeless to you.
But remember this, falling into sin doesn't condemn anybody. Staying in it does. Edwin Louis Cole said, "You don't drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there." Every one of us has fallen into the water. We're all born into sin, born with a sin nature, the dark side.
You don't have a say in that. You can't control that. It's a decision that Adam made. But also, you don't have to face its penalty or its consequences. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us, cleanse us of all unrighteousness. So there is no one righteous, but there is a God who loves you who is righteous, and who will impart that righteousness to you and forgive you and cleanse you if you ask Him to.
Lord, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the knowledge that it brings, the conviction that it brings, the guilt that it brings. Lord, guilt is a good thing because we are guilty, and we need to be shown that we need a Savior. So Lord, we thank you for that knowledge and that revelation to us.
But Lord, we also thank you for the encouragement and strength that brings us Christians, knowing that every one of us in this room who has called upon the name of Jesus, Lord, we are forgiven, not based on what we've done, but because of what you've accomplished. And Lord, that brings us comfort, that brings us joy.
And as we're praying right now, as we have our eyes closed and our heads bowed, if you haven't experienced that comfort and joy, knowing that your sins are forgiven, if you've been trying for a long time to work your way to heaven, you think that coming to church is good enough, you think that sitting here is good enough, reading your Bible is good enough, tithing is good enough, there's a lot of things you can do to look like a Christian, but there's only one thing you can do to actually be a Christian, and that is experience the forgiveness of your sin, which is only found in repenting of your sin and asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. If you want to leave here today knowing that you're forgiven, knowing that you're going to go to heaven, not based on what you've done but based on what Jesus has done, will you just raise your hand up so I can see it?
You're saying, Nate, pray for me, I need to be forgiven. Amen, right here in the middle, over here the left, a couple of you, over here, in the middle left, to my right. Over here in the back. God speaking to you right now, you respond to that call. You respond to that tug on your heart.
If you're sitting there and you know you need to do this-- maybe you've done it before, but you still feel that tug and you realize there are some things that have creeped into your life and you need to leave those things behind, you need to start a fresh walking with God, just raise up your hand. Don't resist it, don't push it away. Respond to God.
Amen, a couple of you. In the family room, to my left, in the balcony, a few of you. Praise the Lord. Well, if you raised your hand up, will you just, right now, after me, say these words? Say them out loud, say them from your heart.
This is simply a prayer asking Jesus to come into your life. Nothing magical is going to happen, you're not going to start floating or speaking in tongues. But what you are going to have is you're going to have Jesus Christ forgive you for all the things you've ever done, wash you white as snow. Not just the things you've done in the past, but the things you will do in the future.
Just say this after me. Say, Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you. But Lord, I believe that you died for those things and that you rose from the dead.
So I ask you to come into my life, forgive me of my sins. I turn from my old life and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
Hey, let's give those who pray that prayer a round of applause. [APPLAUSE] There was quite a few of you who raised your hands, and we want to let you know you just took a big step, but it was the first step. We want to help you in this new walk and relationship that you have with Jesus Christ.
After the service, there's going to be a couple of people here at the front. They're going to have an after-service counselor badge, our decision team. We would love to pray with you, and encourage you, give you a Bible, and help you in this journey. Or, you can text the word saved, S-A-V-E-D, to 505-509-5433, and we'll get in contact with you and we'll send you all that stuff digitally and pray for you as well. But God bless you guys. We'll see you next Sunday as we continue in our series, 2020.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.