Summary: Romans 1-3 show that we are all guilty of sin and without excuse. Chapter 3 shows ho we can be "Put right" ((Good News Bible)) with God
Put Right With God
In 19990, in Washington, D.C., Padrica Caine Hill, a former bank teller, was a mother and wife. One day she gets up, dresses her three children and makes breakfast for them. Then she smokes some crack cocaine and lets the kids watch cartoons. A little while later when the cocaine explodes in her brain… with a clothesline she strangles eight-year-old Kristine and four-year-old Eric Jr. She tries to strangle two-year-old Jennifer, but leaves the girl still breathing softly on the floor. When the police come, Padrica Hill says she loves her children. Why did she kill them? "I don't know," she answers in apparently genuine bewilderment. "I hadn't planned on it."
Who or what is responsible?
*The woman herself? She did smoke the crack, but presumably the effect she anticipated was a euphoric high, not the death of her children. The drug affected her brain and destroyed the civilized instincts there, including the most powerful of human instincts, her mother love.
*The crack itself?*The dealer who sold the crack?
* The others in the trade -- kingpins and mules who brought the cocaine up from South America encased in condoms that they had swallowed?
* The peasants in Colombia who grew the coca plants in the first place?
The widening stain of responsibility for evil on a constricting planet changes moral contexts. Micro-evil, the murder of an individual child, becomes part of the macro-organism.
So who’s fingers were on the clothesline that kills the children in the middle of morning cartoons?
I relate this story to get us thinking about sin in general. To move us to a place where we can consider and understand the words of Paul in Chapter 3 of Romans.
In verses 9-20 Paul brings to a conclusion, the argument he has been meticulously laying out since 1:1… THAT ALL ARE GUILTY OF SIN AND WITHOUT EXCUSE AND UNDER THE JUDGMENT OF GOD
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
He makes the statement and then lays out the proof…
# 1: The Gentiles are guilty (1:18-32).
# 2: The Moralists are guilty (2:1-16).
# 3: The Jews are guilty (2:17-29).
# 4: No excuses will be accepted (3:1-8).
So here, 3:9 Paul makes his great and sweeping diagnosis that the whole body, every single part (you and me) is utterly diseased and sick.
Then, Paul goes on to prove his point
Verse 10 says… AS TO CHARACTER… NONE GOOD
He is saying that all are sinners and none are good.
That is where we have trouble. Most Christians can admit that we are sinners... but we are not ready to admit that we are not good.
In fact, we believe we are pretty good. Naturally, because we know the good things that we do.
We attend church, pay our taxes, do a good job at work, change our oil every 3000 miles, cut our grass and often even cut the neighbor’s ditch, give money to some philanthropic organizations, are members of community groups, etc
So, we are not ready to let anyone say that we are not good.
We can look around us and see so much evil and bad people, people who don’t do the good things we do, and naturally we think of ourselves as good… gooder than most.
And we say, what about the Mother Theresa’s and the Billy Grahams… they are good.
See, we confuse RELATIVE goodness with ABSOLUTE goodness.
Relative goodness—we see great differences between the Mother Theresa’s and the Sadaam Husein’s of the world.
It is real.. while ALL are sinners… some are horrible animals and other are near saints.
Paul would not deny that distinction. And seen from that elevation (man’s perspective) the difference is drastic and we can feel morally superior… GOOD.
But God sees from a different perspective… ABSOLUTE perfection… where things are not judged in relation to each other but in relation to His absolute perfection and the standard to which we are held.
ILL: Think of the skyline of Chicago. There are some buildings that are only one story tall and others, like the Sears Tower which is 108 Stories tall.
RELATIVE GOODNESS—If you ride out on Lake Michigan in a boat and look back at the skyline of Chicago, this is what it looks like… see how one building looks tall or short when compared with another.
That is how we see goodness… some people are better than others… thus we can feel that there are good people.
ABSOLUTE GOODNESS – if you fly over Chicago at 5000 feet, this is what it looks like. Notice how it is hard to tell a 108 story building from a 10 story building. ((I challenge you to find it)) It is right THERE