Summary: Salvation comes only to those who are silenced by their sinfulness.
I want you to consider for a moment two different doctors. Both are equally competent, but the way that they deal with their patients is quite different. Let’s imagine that you’re not feeling well so you go to both doctors who both do the same thorough examination and run the same tests and both come up with the same diagnosis.
The first doctor tells you that everything is fine and that all you really need to do is to get some more rest and take some vitamins and you’ll feel better soon. But the other doctor gives it to you straight and tells you that you have cancer. But the good news is that it has been caught early enough that there is a treatment that is 100% successful in curing that kind of cancer.
Which of the two doctors is going to make you feel the best right off the bat? The one who gave you what seems like good news, right? But which one is going to give you the best chance to really be healthy in the long run? The doctor who first gave you the bad news, but then followed it up with the good news, right?
In this first part of the book of Romans, Paul is serving as a kind of “spiritual doctor” as he writes to the churches in Rome. And most of the first two and a half chapters of his letter has been devoted to making a diagnosis of the spiritual condition of his readers. Before he can get to the good news, which he has only hinted at so far, he has to first make sure that his readers first understand their true spiritual condition necessitates that they receive the cure that is offered by the gospel.
In the passage we’ll look at this morning, Paul summarizes everything he has said so far and gives his final diagnosis. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans 3 and follow along as I begin reading in verse 9:
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
(Romans 3:9-20 ESV)
On the surface, this isn’t a real encouraging message. To be given the honest diagnosis that we are all under sin is not a pleasant thing. But on the other hand, there is great hope and joy in knowing that God knows our depraved condition even better than we do and still loves us enough to provide the treatment that is 100% effective in curing the sin problem that we all have.
So as we go through this passage together this morning, it is my prayer that God’s Word will lead you to do one of two things this morning:
• Perhaps there are some of you here this morning who have never come to the place where you’ve received an accurate diagnosis in which you recognize the seriousness of your sin. For you, my prayer is that you will understand that this morning and that as a result you will find the cure by responding to the gospel by committing your life to Jesus.
• For the majority here who have already made that commitment, my prayer is that as you understand better the depth of the sin in your life, you will gain a whole new appreciation for the cure that Jesus has provided for you through the gospel.
Let’s begin by putting this passage in context. In the first part of chapter 3 Paul was dealing with some objections that he expected his fellow Jews might raise in response to his teaching that the Jews were in need of the gospel just as much as the Gentiles. And in that diatribe that we looked at last week, Paul pointed out that the Jews did indeed have an advantage over the Gentiles – they had the Word of God.