Summary: God does not wait until we get "good" to intervene in our sinful situation.
A. New relationships can elicit a variety of emotional responses.
B. Fear, excitement, uncertainty, dread, and depression can all result from new relationships.
C. For example: a young person who has attended the same school from kindergarten through middle school but whose Dad is transferred to a different location. The young person has to start high school in a new place and at a new school.
D. Other examples: those in the military, missionaries, preachers, job transfers.
I. Grace and Our Helpless Condition (v. 6)
A. Suggested conclusions about the state of our condition.
1. Tainted, depraved, unable, “total depravity,” “total inability,” and still good are all words, conditions or phrases that have been examined by believers and theologians to describe our position as humans as it relates to our need for salvation.
2. While our view of our spiritual condition should be constructed based on what the Bible teaches, often it is not.
3. One reason for this skewed opinion is abhorrence for what the Bible says about us.
4. Therefore, people look in other places to form an opinion about themselves.
5. They may do personal observation of their behavior and attitudes and reach the conclusion that while not perfect they are pretty good.
6. From observation, they may assume they are in control of their destiny and do not need to lean on a supernatural deity.
7. They may also read self help books or the works of positive thinkers and conclude all people will be “okay” in the end, so how they live is immaterial.
8. Thus the spectrum of self evaluation runs the gamut from really bad to not bad at all, from needing supernatural assistance to needing no help at all.
9. The Greek word here translated “helpless” is asthenes (ahs-tha-neighs’) and means weak, infirm or feeble.
10. A modern translation renders it “utterly helpless.”
B. Results of the suggested conclusions.
1. The results can be divided into several conclusions.
2. We are really bad and in need of divine assistance.
3. We are not bad and therefore need no divine help.
4. We are somewhat bad and need a little help but can also render some help ourselves.
C. What the Bible says about our condition.
1. Paul has already concluded all have sinned. (3:23)
2. He will conclude in the next chapter that the wages of this sin is death. (6:23)
3. From a believer’s viewpoint, it really should not matter what we think but what the Bible says.
4. If God’s view is what counts, then we should not only know but also accept what he says.
5. There is-and has been throughout church history, different opinions about how seriously sin has affected humanity.
6. As referenced above, the conclusions surround the question of whether we are helpless without divine help, not in need of divine help or whether the right conclusion about our spiritual condition lies somewhere in the middle.
7. While humans are certainly not as evil as they could be-God’s Spirit does exercise a preserving influence even on evil people, they are sinful as borne out by their actions. How anyone could conclude otherwise seems inconceivable.
8. Whether we are responsible for these actions or more specifically to a deity are further questions to consider.
9. The conclusion of the Bible seems perfectly clear to those who accept it-we are depraved, and we are responsible.
10. We are not as bad as we could be, but sin permeates us to the core. It is parcel and part of our entire nature.
11. Further, we are responsible to God because this sinful rebellion is against him and is an offense against his holy nature.
12. Since we are his creations, we are held accountable by God.
II. Grace and God’s Cure (vv. 6-8)
A. God’s cure was in Christ and at the right time. In what way was it the right time?
1. In another epistle, Paul refers to this as the “fullness of time” or the right time. (Galatians 4:4)
2. Jesus also acknowledged in Mark’s gospel that the time was right (Mark 1:15) for his appearance.
3. The Roman’s political contribution to history aided in making the time right. They provided a universal law that led to the unity of mankind. They brought peace (pax romana) which led to free movement within the Mediterranean world. They also developed an excellent system of roads. Their conquests led many to lose belief in their gods.
4. The Greeks also prepared the world for Christ’s arrival. Greek was the universal tongue of the ancient world. Greek philosophy also helped destroy people’s faith in the older religions.
5. And of course, the Jews had contributed mightily to Christ’s coming being the right time. In contrast to other world religions, they believed in one God. They also looked for a Messiah. Their ethical standards were extremely high. Most importantly perhaps was that they had preserved the Old Testament scriptures. They proposed history had meaning and was God’s story. Finally, they provided an institution for worship in the form of the synagogue.