Summary: Sin, according to Romans 3 is like a cancer that infects the whole body from head to toe.
None is Righteous Romans 3:9-18
Today we are beginning a series of messages from the letter to the Romans. I want you to hear the way Paul expresses his love and concern for the congregation in Rome. He begins, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. …without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Paul expresses a loving concern for the congregation.
This week the Church Life and Growth Commission of the Northern Ohio district of the Church of the Brethren sent all the pastors the book, “They call me Pastor: How to Love the Ones You Lead.” What a wonderful way to encourage us. I can’t wait to dig into it to see what we’re doing right and what we might be doing wrong and I hope we will find practical help for being pastors of this congregation.
Paul loved the people in the church at Rome. He wrote sixteen chapters in this letter to encourage and teach them. He also took on the challenge of admonishing them about the damming effects of sin so that they would reject all that is sinful and live righteous lives. Early in his letter he states his position; it is his testimony summed up in a nutshell. I hope you can make Paul’s declaration your testimony as well. Read it with me. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (1:16)
Almost immediately Paul takes up the hard task of addressing sin. He knew he had the authority from God to rebuke what’s evil so he announced, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.” Then he named the sins that provoke God even to the point that “God gave them up” a phrase used three times in chapter 1. Paul concluded chapter 1 with “They knew God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them they even applaud others who practice them.”
That’s the mess Rome was in. And for this little flock of believers in Rome, living in Sin City, God used Pastor Paul to love them, teach them the way of salvation and warn them with all boldness so that they stay pure and be a set apart, holy community doing the will of God the best they can.
Paul’s love and concern for the congregation in ROME expresses what Wesley and I feel as pastors. We live in the midst of a drug-infested community. We live in a city that has too many bars, too many aimless roamers, and too many opportunities to live sinful, immoral, unethical lives. Wesley and I believe God wants to use us to help this small flock be faithful to Jesus Christ and he wants us together as a congregation be living examples of righteousness to the world that desperately needs godly models.
Last Wednesday evening at our Ash Wednesday service we told each other “Turn away from sin and be faithful to Jesus Christ.” That’s what the letter to the Romans emphases. Paul urged the congregation in Rome and all people everywhere to turn away from sin and be faithful to Jesus Christ. With that introduction to Romans we’re going to move to the third chapter where today’s message will come from. Our text Romans 3:9-25b makes clear that humanity’s Number One problem is that None is Righteous.
About a year ago I went to my family doctor for a yearly check-up. This time one of the tests he prescribed was a thermography exam. The test was done by heat. Then it took a trained Doctor to read the picture of the different colors to see if there were any infected tissue or any cancer cells or any pre-cancerous conditions. All I saw when I looked at the picture was a blend of meaningless colors. The specialist was able to identify trouble by the different shadings of colors the heat of the body produced.
God’s word in this short passage gives us an X-ray report of the human body and we’re told very clearly what the diagnosis is: SIN. Sin is the disease with the Big I in the middle that tries to dethrone God and sit in His place in one’s live.
The cancer of sin infects the whole body from head to toe Romans says. Sin is a highly malignant spiritual cancer that will invade the whole body. The first words in the diagnosis is that it is universally contracted. Verse 9 9 “All, are under the power of sin, both Jew and Greek.” Verse 10 “There is no one who is righteous, not even one.” Verse.12 “All have turned aside, together they have become worthless!” That sounds pretty hopeless doesn’t it? The picture of our condition is bleak and depressing and what’s more this spiritual cancer will lead to death. It is terminal, unless the miracle cure of Jesus’ salvation is applied to our lives.