Summary: The route of personal righteousness is clearly marked, "no road to heaven this way." For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
ROMANS 3: 9-20
GUILTY AS CHARGED
Men like to believe that they are basically good, but fallen natural man is under sin. In other words, all men are sinners, both by character and by conduct. Men may not be equal in their sinning but we are all condemned as sinners. Each and every person, religious (Jew) or irreligious (Gentile), stands guilty before the bar of God's justice.
Paul has built God's case against the pagan world (1:18-32), against those who think they are good (2:1-16), and against God's people (2:17-3:8). Now with devastating finality he reveals that the whole human race stands condemned.
Through the indictment of God's Word Paul proves that every one is a sinner or stands morally bankrupt in God's eyes. Scripture's repeated testimony of "all" and "none" assert mankind's universal guilt.
If there is to be any hope for any individual it must be found in the mercy and grace of God. Because of the unalterable fact that all are sinners the way of acceptance before God is totally closed. No actions of righteousness or good deeds can open the way to God. The route of personal righteousness is clearly marked, "no road to heaven this way." For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (C.I.T.).
I. Sinners by Character, 9-12.
II. Sinners by Conduct, 13-18.
III. Sinners Under Condemnation, 19-20.
Before Paul gives Scripture's charge he gives the indictment or arraignment in verse 9. "What then? Are we better than they? Not by any means; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;"
In the previous passage Paul insisted that the Jews had special privileges because they were entrusted with the Oracles of God. But this does not mean that the Jews are better than anyone else. ( µ -to be held before - as an example). They are not, but from a different piece of cloth or from a different mold than every one else. Every one is under condemnation from the most reprobate, vice-ridden pagan, to the most outwardly moral and upright Jew. The entire human race, with no exceptions, is "charged" as a sinner before God's court of justice.
God's charge is that all people, both Gentiles and Jews, are "under" the power of sin. The Greek phrase "under sin" ( µ ) is very suggestive. Hupo means "under the power of, under the authority of." As in Mt. 8:9 when the Centurion says he has "soldiers under ( ) me" meaning I have soldiers under my authority, control, power, or command. Without Christ man is under the dominion of sin and helpless to escape from it. He may move from one sin to the next sin, but he is always controlled by sin. To be under sin is to be under the authority of sin (Gal. 3:22; Rom. 7:44).
Privileged or not privileged all stand equally in need of God's mercy and grace. Now, that is not to say that man has no moral consciousness. All men everywhere have a moral consciousness as Paul has previously stated.
God universally gave every person and society MORAL DISCERNMENT. There is no family, no tribe, no people, nor any nation so degraded that it does not have a moral code of what is right and what is wrong. What the people think to be right and what they think to be wrong may be strange to us, but everyone has some moral sensitivity.
When Charles Darwin went around the world, he came to the tip of South America and found a group of islands call Tierra del Fuego. He wrote that he had found in those islands a tribe so degraded that they had no moral sensitivity. He said, "I have found the missing link between the animal and the man, for these Tierra del Fuegans are without sensitivity." Some Christians in England read Darwin's statement and sent missionaries to Tierra del Fuego. Soon they reported that the Tierra del Fuegans were noble in their life and virtuous in their deportment. They had been won to Christ and were now disciples of the Lord. When Charles Darwin learned of the evangelization of the Tierra de Fuegans, he himself became a subscriber and a faithful contributor to the Church Missionary Society of London, England, which had sent out the missionaries. There are no people in the world who have ever lived or ever will live in whom the soul of moral discernment is not present.
To validate the accusation that everybody is under sin six Old Testament passages (broken into three strophes in verses 10-18) are quoted. They are strung together like pearls to prove the doctrine of the universal sinfulness of mankind. The first set in verses 10 and 11 speaks to man's character. The first sentence in verse 10, quoted from Psalm 14:1, is like a theme for what follows. "As it is written. ‘There is none righteous not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God."