Our Desperate Need for Jesus Christ
The Book of Romans
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - April 17, 2016
(Revised October 18, 2020)
*Please open your Bibles to Romans chapter 3, and remember that it begins like the closing argument in a trial where all mankind is found guilty before God. The "trial" began in chapter 1, where Paul made God's case against the ungodly Gentile people of the world. There Paul went into great detail about the foolishness and wickedness that comes from rejecting the true God.
*For example, in Romans 1:21-22, Paul said:
21. because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22. Professing to be wise, they became fools.
*In Romans 1:29-32, Paul also said those ungodly people were:
29. being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30. backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31. undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32. who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
*Next in chapter 2, Paul turned his attention from ungodly Gentiles to religious people, and he firstly addressed the Jews. Paul opened with this stern warning in vs. 1-3:
1. Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
2. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.
3. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
*We must understand that this warning wasn't just for the Jews who were trying to keep God's law. It's for anyone who tries to live a moral life.
*In these 3 chapters Paul has been steadily walking us to the truth that everyone is guilty of disobeying the perfectly holy God. Everyone has fallen under the condemnation of God. Everyone deserves the wrath of God. And the only hope of escaping God's wrath is by salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
*EVERYBODY DESPERATELY NEEDS TO BELIEVE IN JESUS! Please think about this truth as we read Romans 3:19-30.
*People can't make it without hope. An Air Force survival instructor explained this truth with "The Rule of Threes." He said, "You can survive 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, 3 hours without shelter, and 3 minutes without air. But you cannot survive 3 seconds without hope." (1)
*People can't make it without hope, but Christians, we have hope! We have the only real hope in the world, because we have Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior! Everybody desperately needs to believe in Jesus Christ, and tonight's Scripture helps us see why.
1. FIRST: JESUS IS THE ONLY HOPE FOR JUSTIFICATION.
*Without God's justification all of us are guilty before God. That's why in vs. 19, the Holy Spirit led Paul to say, "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." All the world is guilty before God, because all of us were born with a sinful nature.
*Nobody ever has to teach their children how to lie, or be selfish, or be mean to their brothers and sisters. It just comes naturally. That's why in vs. 9-10, Paul began with this question:
9. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10. As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one."
*And as a result, vs. 20 says, "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
*No one can be justified by keeping the law, because no one has ever been able to keep the law, -- no one that is except Jesus Christ. As for the rest of us? Verse 23 says, "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
*We all fall short. We are all guilty with no hope of ever measuring up. Disney World has minimum height requirements for some of the rides. You can look them upon the internet.
*At the Magic Kingdom, you are not getting on "The Barnstormer" unless you are 35 inches tall. You are not getting on "Splash Mountain" unless you are 40 inches tall. And you are not getting on "Space Mountain" unless you are 44 inches tall. (2)
*What if there was a minimum height requirement for getting into Heaven? If it was 6 feet, then there is nothing I could ever do to get there. But you see, if there was a minimum height requirement for getting into Heaven, it wouldn't be 6 feet. It would be 6 miles or 60 million miles, and there is nothing any of us could do to measure up.
*All of us desperately needed God's justification because without it we are all guilty. But the great news is that we can have His justification, and it comes by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
*Please listen for both the grace and the faith in vs. 21-24. Here Paul said:
21. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22. even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24. being JUSTIFIED freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
*"Justified": This original word is found 40 times in the New Testament, and it means "to make, regard as, and declare someone to be just, righteous, or innocent."
*Wayne Grudem defined justification as "an instantaneous legal act of God in which He considers our sins to be forgiven and Christ's righteousness to belong to us." Justification then is God's legal declaration that believers are free from blame or guilt. It is a pardon for all of our crimes against God.
*Justification is a clean slate for everyone who will place their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. And A. T. Robertson tells us that the original tense indicates a "repeated action in each case, each being set right." That is why when I am justified by God, it really is "just as if I'd never sinned!" (3)
*Everybody desperately needs to believe in Jesus because He is the only hope for justification.
2. AND BECAUSE HE IS THE ONLY HOPE FOR REDEMPTION.
*Again, vs. 24 tells Christians that we are "justified freely by His grace (by God's grace) through the REDEMPTION that is in Christ Jesus. . ."
*1Corinthians 1:30 speaks of believers being "in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and REDEMPTION."
*Paul also used this same word in Colossians 1:13-14. There he wrote about the blood of Jesus Christ and said that God the Father "has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have REDEMPTION through His blood."
*This original word for "redemption" is talking about buying a slave out of slavery in order to set him free. It's the idea of buying someone's freedom by the payment of a ransom.
*Dennis Davidson pointed out that redemption had special meaning for the 45 million people in the Roman Empire. That's because as many as 10 million of those people were slaves, and many of those slaves became Christians. A Roman slave could buy his own freedom, if he could raise the money somehow, or if someone else was willing to pay the price. But redemption was a rare and precious thing for a slave." (4)
*Human slavery is a terrible thing, one of the greatest sins in our nation's history. In 2004, Mary and I got to visit Washington D.C., and on that trip, I realized like never before the terrible plague that slavery was on our country.
*It happened when we were visiting George Washington's home at Mt. Vernon. What opened my eyes was the fact that just a few yards from Washington's grave is a memorial to the unmarked graves of 150 slaves.
*Think how horrible it would have been to live as a slave. You would have been under the total control of your master, no matter how cruel he might have been. You had to get up when he said, you had to go to bed when he said. You had to work where he told you, when he told you. You had to eat what he gave you, even if it wasn’t fit for the dogs. He could beat you for any reason or no reason at all. And he could sell off the rest of your family with no warning at all.
*Slavery is a terrible thing, and it still goes on in parts of the world today. In 2002, the CIA reported that over 700,000 women and children are sold into slavery every year. Wikipedia estimates that there are as many as 46 million actual slaves in the world today. And there are over 3 billion more people who live under brutal dictators around the world. (5)
*Human slavery is a terrible thing. But spiritual slavery is infinitely worse, because this kind of slavery lasts forever. Most of the world today is living in spiritual bondage to sin, and they don't even know it.
*But Jesus Christ paid the highest price to set us free! In 1 Peter 1:18-19 the Bible tells Christians, "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
*When He died on the cross for our sins, Jesus paid the ransom to redeem everyone who will receive Him as Lord and Savior. That's why in Matthew 20:28 Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
*Everybody needs to believe in Jesus because He is the only hope for redemption.
3. AND BECAUSE HE IS THE ONLY HOPE FOR PROPITIATION.
*"Propitiation" That's a word you may have never heard, and a word you will probably never hear outside of church. But "propitiation" is a most important word, and Paul used it in vs. 24-26.
*There the Apostle said that believers are:
24. being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25. whom God set forth to be a PROPITIATION by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
26. to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
*Christians: In 26, God is our justifier. That means He declares us to be righteous, and He makes us righteous. But the only way God could do that was for Jesus to be our propitiation.
*That word "propitiation" has to do with the place of mercy. The NIV Bible calls this "the sacrifice of atonement." But the most literal translation is "Mercy Seat," and Jesus is our mercy seat.
*Here God's Word points us back to the Old Testament in the days of the tabernacle and the temple. There the Ark of the Covenant sat in the Holy of Holies. And the Mercy Seat was the 2-foot by 4-foot solid gold cover of that box.
*It was a very special box, because it held the Ten Commandments, a pot of the miraculous food called "manna," and Aaron’s rod that miraculously budded. But mostly, the Mercy Seat was special because that’s where the glory of God came down. And the one time a year the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, that’s where he sprinkled the blood: on the Mercy Seat.
*There the people’s sins were symbolically covered by the blood. But now we don’t need that mercy seat, because Jesus Christ is our place of mercy! He is the true Lamb of God who gave His blood on the cross to pay for our sins. We all deserved eternal death, because of our sins, but we can all be justified through faith in Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.
*Everybody desperately needs to believe in Jesus because He is the only hope for propitiation.
4. AND BECAUSE HE IS THE ONLY HOPE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
*God's Word mentions righteousness 4 different times in tonight's Scripture. Please listen for this word as I again read vs. 20-26:
20. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21. But now the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22. even the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24. being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25. whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His RIGHTEOUSNESS, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
26. to demonstrate at the present time His RIGHTEOUSNESS, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
*The first thing to notice here is that the only reason we can be righteous is because God is righteous! Because of His righteousness, God is willing to make us righteous through faith in Jesus Christ.
*This is why all of the glory for our salvation belongs to God, and in vs. 27 Paul could write: "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith."
*The only person we will be boasting about in Heaven is God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost! All of the glory for our salvation will go to God. That's why in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 Paul tells Christians that God has put us "in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'''
*Christians: We are righteous in God's sight, because God has put us "in Christ Jesus." But remember that by His Holy Spirit, Christ is also in us, and we are born again with a new nature, His nature. In this way, God has planted His righteousness in us, and He transforms the way we live.
*We see this truth in vs. 28-31, where Paul said:
28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
29. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,
30. since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
31. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
*Now, the Lord gave His Old Testament Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. But God's law flows out of His infinite perfection, so in one sense it has always been established.
*But where does God's law need to be established today? The answer is: In the hearts of all people. And that is where God's law begins to be established when we believe in Jesus Christ.
*Jesus He the fulfiller of God's prophecy in Jeremiah 31:33: "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
*God's law begins to be established in our hearts when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. He gives us the energy, the ability, and the inspiration to follow Him more closely every day. True faith in Jesus will have a positive, powerful impact on every area of our life: Our hearts, our hands, and our tongues.
*Through His salvation, God calls us up to a life of goodness and purity. He wants all of His goodness and love to flow through us. This covers not just the bad things we shouldn’t do, but all of the good things that we should be doing, especially helping other people put their trust in Jesus.
*What a Savior! What salvation! Paul summed up our salvation with these words from 2 Corinthians 5:21: "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." In other words, "God the Father made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
*Jesus never sinned, but He took all of our sins on Himself when He died on the cross for us. The risen Christ did that so we could have His righteousness when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior.
*Speaking of this amazing trade, Bill Bouknight said, "My sister Martha is 3 years older than I am, and has always been considerably smarter. This put me at a disadvantage. Teachers in school would compare my work to Martha's and wonder if I came from the same litter.
*When I was 4 or 5 and Martha was 7 or 8, she sometimes took advantage of my financial ignorance. I would have a dime and she would have a nickel. Showing me that the nickel was clearly larger than the dime, she would suggest a trade. I would gladly do so, wondering how my sister could be so dumb as to make such an offer.
*Not all trades are fair. Some take advantage of the ignorant or uninformed. But occasionally one bumps into a trade that is so caring, so loving that it rattles our selfish bones.
*At the heart of the Gospel is a terrific trade like that: A sinless Christ took upon himself the sin of all people, bore it to Calvary, suffered and died for it. And in exchange covered all believers with His perfect righteousness."
*Then Bill said, "Let's suppose that I am wearing a coat that reveals the state of my soul. Every commandment I ever broke, every needy person I ever ignored, every lustful thought I ever had, every profanity I ever uttered, -- all have left dirty marks on my coat. What a filthy garment it is! I must wear the coat and no cleaner on earth can remove its stains, and smudges.
*Let's suppose that Jesus approaches me. I try to hide because I don't want Him to see my filthy coat. It reveals everything bad about me.
*But Jesus finds me and says, 'Bill, I know all about your coat. I love you anyway. Give me the coat.'
*Miserable with shame, I turn the coat over to him. Then I watch as He marches off to Calvary. He wears it on the cross, bearing the penalty for every smudge and stain. And at that very moment when He cries out from the cross, 'It is finished' and breathes His last, suddenly I become aware that I am wearing a new coat.
*Instantly I recognize it. It is Jesus' coat! And there's not a smudge or a stain on it. It's a coat of perfect righteousness. Now I can walk into the very presence of God, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ." (6)
*What a trade! Only it’s more than a new coat. It’s a whole new life, eternal life! Jesus took our sin and death so that we could have both His righteousness and His eternal life.
*Have you made this trade? It is the most important thing you will ever do in life. And God wants you to do it today. So, call on the Lord Jesus Christ to save you. Then you will have God's hope, real hope, the hope that lasts forever!
(1) Online sermon "Christmas and Covenant" by Rodney Buchanan - Luke 1:68-79 - 12/10/06)
-SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY by Wayne Grudem - Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Justification" by Kevin Higgins - Romans 3:24
-WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Archibald Thomas (A. T.) Robertson - Published in 1930-1933 - Romans 3:24
(4) SermonCentral sermon "Costly Redemption" by Dennis Davidson - 1 Peter 1:18-1:21
-"Women for Sale" by Michael J. Weiss, LADIES' HOME JOURNAL, June 2002, p. 131 - Source: email from Sermons.com
-Ever more people worldwide living under dictatorship, German study finds - DPA/The Local - email@example.com - @thelocalgermany - 22 March 2018 - 10:15 CET+01:00 - https://www.thelocal.de/20180322/ever-more-people-worldwide-living-under-dictatorship-german-study-finds
(6) Adapted from Sermons.com sermon "A Terrific Trade" by Bill Bouknight - 2 Corinthians 5:17-21- 2002