Summary: Romans #3
Innocent or Guilty?
What is the biggest problem in the world today?
What is the classic problem of the world?
What is the biggest need humanity needs to overcome?
Poverty? Racism? War? Dealing with natural disasters?
What is the biggest problem that mankind needs to solve?
The ones I’ve mentioned are big problems, aren’t they?
But I believe they are just symptoms of an even bigger problem.
Charles Spurgeon, the very eloquent preacher of the 19th century, gets right to the core of the problem when he writes these words:
"Sin is the mother and nurse of all evil, the egg of all mischief, the fountain of bitterness, the root of misery. Here you have the distilled essence of hell, the quintessence, as the old theologians would say, of everything that is unlovely, disreputable, dishonest, impure, abominable---in a word---damnable."
Sin. It is from this cancerous cell called sin, that all of humanity’s problems have multiplied. We tend to blame social problems, like ignorance and poverty for our situation, but the true disease is within each of us. We are sinners by birth. We are born into sin. We are living in the shadow of death. We are hiding from the wrath of God.
Let me warn you at the beginning here, that there are some truths from God’s Word are nice and easy to talk about, but there are others that are not. The ones we are going to look at this morning fall into the category of "not very pleasant." In fact, they are ugly, sad, grim, and downright depressing. But they are truths we need to hear and face.
I think at this point in our study it’s helpful to review again the overall organization of the book of Romans that we’re looking at. There are 5 major divisions in this book. Each of these divisions can be summed up in one word. There is the introduction to the book which we finished up last week, and there’s a conclusion at the end of the book.
Between those two book ends there are 5 major themes in the book of Romans:
1. SIN It answers the question, "Why do I need to be saved? What do I need to be a Christian?"
2. SALVATION It is on "How can I be saved?"
3. SANCTIFICATION "What happens after I’m saved? How do I grow as a Christian after I’ve become a believer?"
4. SOVEREIGNTY "Why does God save us?" It talks about how God chooses us.
5. SERVICE "How can we serve God?"
Today we’re going to start by looking at the first section which is on SIN.
We cannot appreciate fully, or even see our need for salvation (the good news) if we don’t first of all look at the bad news (sin). In this section, Paul describes very clearly why each of us needs salvation. It makes me think of looking at diamonds in a jewelry store. What does the jeweler do when they show you diamonds? They lay them on a piece of black velvet in order to contrast the diamond, right? That’s what Paul does here when he starts on this section. He gets to the good news in a couple of chapters when he starts on salvation. But he starts here by laying a backdrop of the black velvet of sin.
Notice there’s a lot of legal terms used here. Words like "since" "for" "because" "therefore" are sprinkled throughout the text. Paul is building a case against humanity step by step--exhibit A, exhibit B, etc.
Imagine with me a courtroom scene:
The case of this courtroom scene is man’s guilt or innocence before God. The courtroom is God’s, and He’s the Presiding Judge.
The charge is that man has deliberately rejected God; that every human being without Christ stands unrighteous before God.
The prosecutor is the Apostle Paul,
the accused (defendant) is all of humanity,
the evidence is what we’re going to look at this morning.
We are the jurors. And as good jurors, let’s carefully examine the evidence together to see if the charge that’s made is warranted...
Focusing on sin and doom is tough stuff. It’s not easy. No one likes to hear bad news. No one wants to hear the news that he or she has a malignancy. But, tell me, which is worse: For the doctor to hide the truth and let the patient die, or to tell the awful facts so the patient can find a cure?
In this last half of Romans 1, we hear a chilling diagnosis. It’s one that is guaranteed to wipe the smile off the face of the most optimistic person. The news cuts deep into our hearts. Yet, its pain can bring life if we listen closely to the news and heed the warning.