Summary: No amount works, service, goodness, or moral competence will come to the aid of man’s defense before God. Only by placing your faith in the finished work of the cross can you be saved.
Series Title: The Line in the Sand
Message Title: The End of the Line
Scripture: Romans 3:19~20
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
When you are riding the Seoul Subway system, usually a melody will play when the subway has reached the final station in its series of stops. When that music starts playing it’s letting you know that you can’t go any further and that you’ll have to get off. I remember years ago when I rode the San Francisco cable car. When it reached the end of the line, it had to be physically turned around on a turntable built right into the road.
In any endeavor, any voyage, or any goal, once you reach the rim, the brink, the edge, the so-called ‘end of the line’ all forward progress is blocked by something. You can’t go any further in your car, on the bus, on the train, in thought, or, in Paul’s case, in an argument.
Our scripture reading today represents several so-called ends of the lines.
(1) God’s patience will one day come to an end; (2) the depravity of mankind does have an end and can’t be any worse than Paul has already described them, that is, without God; (3) Paul’s condemnation of them comes to an end; and, (4) these two verses end Paul’s discussion on the need for God’s righteousness instead of mans.’
Court has been in session for these first three chapters of Romans. In Romans 3:9-18, the prosecutor’s accusations were made, the formal charges were levied, and the 14 counts of the indictment were listed before the accused. Who are the accused? The accused, as we’ve mentioned before, are the heathen, the moralist, and the Jew, and anyone else that has yet to give their life over to Jesus Christ. It’s everybody. All are the same; all are an equal distance from God, and all equal in God’s eyes with regard to sin.
I remember my first impression of many countries that I’ve had the occasion to visit. I’ve been able to see many different cultures, many different people groups: Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Africa, and several others. Yet all of those countries, whether walking in suits, silks or shreds, share one common denominator: they contain a nation of sinners.
My thought when I first walked the streets of one of those countries and how much it differed from my own a supposed distinguished and illustrious country was this, “why are they in such a condition as this?” Well, the Bible does have the answer.
(Psalms 9:15) The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
It doesn’t matter what nation it is, it’s the people in it and their relationship with God that makes the nation. If the nation’s people had decided to follow Satan through fortune tellers and witch doctors, then the country was in shambles. If the nation served idols, there would be some semblance of government and culture as they carved idols and statues, but constant governmental infighting and internal strife were their fare, while the rift between upper and lower classes was immense. If the nation served other gods, they were divided, violent, with constant caste and people group wars, and that, of course, all in the name of religion.
All of these, and you and I, fall into the accusations found in Romans. All of those counts have been brought against every one of us, every member of this earth. And, we will all receive the same judgment. We will all stand before God with nothing to say in our defense for:
(Habakkuk 2:20) “… the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Every nation on this earth can attempt to smugly and pompously say, “We’re where we’re at today because of us!”
That’s right, the United States, England, China, Korea, Canada, and every nation of the world, can stand up before God in their own defense and proclaim that meager and paltry defense. Every nation either in the past, present or future will have had the opportunity placed before them to follow God:
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.