Anyone who thinks that man, at his core, is good has never read Romans chapter 3. The Apostle Paul is about to reveal that inside even the sweetest old lady, the quietest newborn child, and the most pious religious leader is a sinner as rebellious as the devil himself.
Anything but Godly . . . Anyone but God
We have begun our journey through the 14 indictments leveled against humanity by the Holy Spirit. 14 denunciations of mankind listed by the Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul, recorded for us in Romans chapter 3.
Paul began, as we first noticed, by making 2 sweeping declarations against mankind. First of all, he declared in verse 9, the universal depravity of man.
Depravity is a word that means wretched, ruined, sinful, degenerate, wicked, perverse.
Paul goes on to say in verse 9 that all of mankind is not only depraved in sin, but dominated by sin. He writes, “all are under sin.”
Sin – from the Greek word, “harmartion,” literally means to miss the mark.
The mark or target is the holiness and purity of God – and mankind, as a whole, is unable to hit the mark. The only exception was Jesus Christ, who walked one earth as sinless man and holy God.
So Paul declares that there is not only universal depravity, but universal domination. You could translate the latter part of verse 9 to read, “all are under the dominion of sin.” In other words, everybody is enslaved to sin.
In Thomas Costain’s history entitled, “The Three Edwards,” Contain describes the life of Raynald III, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium. He was very overweight and commonly referred to behind his back by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means “fat.” After a violent argument, his younger brother, Edward, led a successful revolt against him. Edward’s soldiers captured Raynald, but did not kill him. Instead, Edward ordered a room built around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle with a smaller doorway than normal. Edward then promised his brother that he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for many people in these conditions since the room had several windows and this door of near-normal size, and none of it was locked or barred. All he had to do was lose weight and he would be freed. But the problem was Raynald’s undisciplined appetite. And Edward took advantage of it, I might add. Every day, Edward ordered to that chamber platters filled with delicious food. Meats and cheeses – sweet dishes and tasty foods. Instead of gaining his freedom, Raynald only grew larger and larger. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he would respond, “My brother is not my prisoner, he is his own prisoner . . . as far as I’m concerned, he is free to leave whenever he so will.” Raynald stayed in that room for 10 years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. However, by then his health was so ruined that he died with one year. . .he had indeed been a prisoner of his own appetite.
Adapted from Leadership Magazine, 1984; To Illustrate… p. 44
In Philippians 3:19 Paul wrote that mankind’s [god is their appetite . . . whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things].
Paul wrote later in his letter to the Romans that “men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites (literally their bellies or their stomachs). (Romans 16:18)
It’s a word that refers to the appetites of the physical world. The Bible specifically categorizes them as the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life in I John 2:16.
Mankind doesn’t know it and then he won’t admit it – but he is enslaved to sin. And every day he does nothing more than add to the heaviness of his guilt and shame as he revels in whatever his heart fancies, not caring nor capable to escape the coming judgment. He has no one to blame but himself.
Mankind, Paul has written in chapter 1 verse 20 and chapter 2 verse 1, is without excuse.
The Apostle has used history and conscience and creation and logic and reason to reveal the fact that no man or woman will ever stand before God and say they deserve to get into heaven. No one will be able to say their good deeds outweighed their bad deeds.
Now, in his closing argument about the guilt of mankind, Paul will draw on one additional record to prove his point.
Notice the beginning of verse 10 where Paul writes, “As it is (what?) – written!” “As it is written!” In other words, Paul will now add the argument of the Old Testament to his prosecution that mankind is guilty before God and in deep trouble . . . Paul will bring to the witness stand, the Word of God.
If mankind thought there was a way to justify his ignorance of creation and conscience and history and logic, he will discover that there is no way to squirm his way out of the witness of scripture as to the utter sinfulness of mankind.
By the way, the perfect tense is used in that phrase, “it is written,” which indicated the timelessness and permanence of what was written. In other words, the Bible was just as authoritative in the 1st century as it is in the 21st century. It was descriptive of the Roman and it is descriptive of the American – the Englishman, the Irishman. In fact, the Bible perfectly describes the human, in any generation and in every country.
Before we dive into these 14 indictments, let me give you an outline of these next 10 verses. It may do nothing for you, but I spent a lot of time on it and now I’m gonna make you to listen it.
Actually you might want to turn your Bibles sideways and write in the margin by these verses the following categories. You say, write in my Bible? I don’t want to mess it up! I don’t want to wear it out. My friend, a Bible that is coming apart is usually owned by someone who isn’t. A tattered Bible is the evidence of a consecrated believer.
I encourage you to write in the margins and in the flyleaves of your Bible. Let your Bible become your own commentary with footnotes and quotes and outlines.
Verses 10-12 reveal the evil condition of mankind. Man’s evil condition.
Verses 13-14 describe mankind’s evil communication . . . evil communication.
Finally verses 15-18 describe mankind’s evil chaos.
Now, in verses 10 through 12, Paul will describe the evil condition of mankind with 6 different statements.
First of all, Paul declares that mankind is totally degenerate. Notice in verse 10, “As it is written, there is none righteous, not even one.”
Paul is quoting from Psalms chapter 14 and chapter 53.
There is none righteous, not even one. This word, “righteous”, (dikaioV) which will appear in a variety of forms some 30 times throughout the Book of Romans, is a word you need to be able to define. The basic meaning of the term “righteous” is, “right before God.”
John MacArthur Jr., Romans (Moody Press; Chicago Illinois) 1991, p. 182
Obviously, one man writes, even the most vile person may occasionally do something commendable. But the apostle is not speaking of specific acts or even general patterns of behavior, but of man’s inner character. Paul’s point here is that there is not a single person who has ever lived, apart from the sinless Lord Jesus Christ whose innermost being could be characterized as righteous by God’s standard. And to prevent some people from thinking that they might be the exception, Paul added the words, “not even one.”
Ibid., p. 182
As far as man’s character and inner being, he is unrighteous. And his unrighteousness affects every area of his life – his thoughts, his deeds, his relationships, his plans and his goals.
Addison Leitch used to illustrate this by saying that if the color of sin were blue, every aspect of us would be some shade of blue. Everything we touched would be stained blue – every conversation would be tinted blue.
Quoted in Romans; Righteousness From Heaven by R. Kent Hughes (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois) 1991, p. 75
Just for a moment – look around this auditorium for the color blue. Go ahead, look around until you see it. I want you to do something - I want you to look around this auditorium, and I want you to look for the color blue - go ahead, stare at the people next to you - look around you for anything blue. Now I want everyone to stand up who is wearing something blue. Quickly – you’ll never wear blue again!
This auditorium in filled with blue things! You want to know something? If I hadn’t asked you to do this and after the service I asked you in the hallway, “Did you see all the blue stuff in here this morning - we were surrounded by it! You’d probably say - I didn’t really notice!
The truth is, we’re blind to our unrighteousness because we really don’t want to see it. We have learned to ignore it . . . to overlook it . . . to pay no attention to it.
And Paul declares, “There is no one who is righteous, not even one.” In other words, we’re surrounded by unrighteousness – ours and everyone else’s! And we hardly even notice.
The second thing Paul says about the evil condition of mankind is that man is not only totally degenerate, but he is spiritually dense.
Notice verse 11 and Paul continues. “There is none who understands.”
The context of course is spiritual issues and truth.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2:14, “A natural man (that is, an unbeliever) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
In Ephesians Paul wrote that unsaved individuals, “Walk, in the futility of their mind, 18. being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19. and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”
Is there anyone who gets it, Paul? No one! Is there anyone in the world who grasps spiritual truth apart from Jesus Christ? No one!
Now, this doesn’t mean that an unbeliever can’t have a rational understanding of Christianity or what the Bible teaches. In one sense, a scholar can understand and explain theological principles as well as any other area of human knowledge, simply because theological truth is logical truth.
James Montgomery Boice, Romans: Volume One (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI), 1991, p. 294
Therefore an unbelieving philosophy professor can discuss the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and what it meant for those who followed Him.
James Montgomery Boice wrote of his days at Harvard University where non-Christian professors so presented the doctrines of Christianity so brilliantly that Christians would marvel at their lectures and be edified by them, and even unbelieving students would rise to their feet and applaud. But these professors did not believe what they ere teaching. And if they had been asked their opinion of what they ere so accurately presenting , they would have said that it was all utter nonsense.
Ibid, p. 294
Yesterday I was talking to a man in our church who’s friend is entering Duke Divinity School and was amazed to discover that there were atheists on the faculty.
That’s not unusual. I have heard atheists preach before. I have theological discourses and biblical commentary in my library written by men who were unbelievers.
2 Timothy 3:1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3. unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4. treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5. holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power . . . 7. always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
In other words, unbelievers can understanding the facts of scripture, but they do not understand the spiritual implications of Scripture. They can get the facts, but they can’t exercise faith.
That leads me to Paul’s next descriptive indictment - mankind is not only totally degenerate and spiritually dense, he is thirdly, spiritually disconnected.
Paul writes in verse 11, “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.”
What does it mean – no one seeks for God? Let’s begin to answer that by answering the other side of that question. What does it mean to seek for God?
One author wrote, “When you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, God becomes the focus of everything, the source of everything, the beginning and end of everything. To truly seek for God is to respect and adore His sovereign majesty and to feed on the truth of His word. It is to obey His commandments, to speak to Him in prayer, to live consciously in His presence with a desire to please Him. No one can do such things naturally, but only by the Spirit of God working through him. The natural inclination of man is to seek after their own interests. (Philippians 2:21)”
John MacArthur Jr., Romans (Moody Press; Chicago Illinois) 1991, p. 185
No one seeks after God like that unless they are sons and daughters of God through Christ.
Thus the world at large is not seeking after God.
But wait, you say, didn’t the prophet Jeremiah write that if anyone seeks after God with his whole heart, he’ll find God? (Jeremiah 29:13)
Sounds like a contradiction to Romans.
Not unless you compare scripture with scripture and discover that person who is seeking after God is the one whom God is seeking out first.
You love God because God first – what? – loved you.
You sought after Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ came to seek and to save those who were lost.
Who loved first? God! Who sought first? God! Who initiated salvation? God!
Jesus Christ said, “No man can come to me, except the Father draws him.” John 6:44
If you’re an unbeliever – I can’t draw to you faith in Christ. In fact, you can’t even draw yourself.
Why not? Because those who do not believe, according to the Book of Ephesians 2:1, are considered dead in trespasses and sin. Not sick, but dead. Not in a coma, but dead. Not spiritually unconscious, but spiritually dead. And what can a corpse do? Nothing.
Bring a plate of food before him – he isn’t hungry, he’s dead. Put pictures of some ski resort in the Swiss Alps in front of him and he won’t be interested in skiing – he’s dead. Roll in front of him your big screen TV. and replay the last 60 seconds of the super bowl when the Patriots got lucky. You won’t hear one cheer from him – he’s dead.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the world is spiritually dead. You say, but look at all the religions in the world. Aren’t they seeking after God? No, my friend, they are seeking anyone but God.
Like Adam who sinned in the garden and then went to hide from God, mankind has been hiding ever since. Hiding behind the religious fig leaves of their own pious efforts, their religious symbols and liturgies – they are not seeking God –they are hiding from God.
And they are searching, searching, searching – but they are searching for anyone but God. And they are willing to study everything else but this Book.
A few days ago I was at Borders Bookstore picking up a book and I stopped by a table that was selling discounted books.
One book I picked up was entitled When Planets Promise Love; Your romantic destiny through Astrology.
The back of the book asked . . . READ BACK OF BOOK
Another book I picked up was by New York Times best selling author, James Van Praagh. His book was entitled, Reaching to Heaven.
In it he details conversations with his spirit guides, who are, I believe, demons – and I believe that because Paul wrote in Galatians that even if an angelic being came and delivered a different gospel than that of the Bible, let that angel be accursed. But these spirit guides have shown James Van Praagh the other side of eternity. He writes – READ pg. 58
So the spirit guides are saying that heaven is whatever you want it to be. How tragic, I thought – even in heaven we are not freed from our selfishness. Heaven is simply an opportunity to indulge eternally in self-centeredness.
In the preface to his book he writes – READ PREFACE
My friends, the truth according to God’s word is this – the path to heaven doesn’t create a kingdom of self – but death to self and the pursuit of the kingdom of God. And it doesn’t lead you to greater independence, but dependence upon Christ who is the Rock of your salvation. And true empowerment that this author promised is not discovering the greatness that is you, but in discovering the greatness that is God.
The world is anything but godly and it wants anyone but God.
Paul said it this way, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.”
When Planets Promise Love
“Are you searching for a successful romantic partnership? [This book] presents proven celestial matchmaking methods . . . identify what you want and need in a partner, and the most favorable times to meet him or her when romantic Venus or passionate Mars are in your houses of love and partnership. Discover which planetary ties are absolutely essential fro ensuring compatible temperaments, lasting attraction, and appreciation of each other. Let your love planets reveal how to find a romance that is truly cosmic.
In other words, seek wisdom for life from created things, rather than the Creator of all things. Seek anyone, but God.
You will have a chance to create your own home setting on the astral level. Perhaps you would like to have a small cottage with your own garden surrounded by a babbling brook somewhere in the countryside. You will be able to conceive of and create your home with your thoughts. Once when I was doing a television interview, I did a reading for a young lady in the audience. During the reading her father came through [to me] and she asked what he was doing. Her father [said] that he was having a great time at the races betting on horses! The host of the show glanced over at me with an odd look and said, “Oh, come on, you mean to tell me there is horse racing in heaven?” I told him, “Well, for this man that is heaven to him. He enjoys it.” The girl turned to me and gleefully declared, “That’s my dad! He went to the track ever Saturday.”
James Van Praagh, Reaching To Heaven (A Dutton Book; Penguin Group, New York, NY), 1999, p. 58
“Right inside you lies a whole new world . . . of truth. To reach it you must journey along the road less traveled, [the road] that leads toward selfdom (the kingdom of self), independence, and empowerment – to the greatness that is you.”
Ibid., p. xiii
I’m afraid that the reputation of the church has strayed far from the Biblical path when it comes to the issue of giving money. In fact, when the average person on the street thinks about giving in the church – this cartoon that I show my GreenHouse class probably comes to their minds.
What the Bible tells us to do is vastly different. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that there are three ways to give and two of them are wrong.
READ VERSE –
Grudge giving – I hate to!
Duty giving – I ought to!
Joy/Grace giving – I want to!
Let me illustrate joyful giving – several of our pastors just returned from Africa. David Williams, Brian Eisner along with our sister church pastors, Steve Matthews and Tom Stroud. While they were there they traveled out into the primitive region, which we call “the bush.” The women walk several hours to get water – but they arrive at a dry river bed and they dig until they hit water and they fill up their buckets. Brian was talking to the pastor about how much it would cost to build a church building out of block for the church that is flourishing in this particular tribe. He was told it would cost 700 dollars. Pastor Brian came back and challenged his students with the idea of collecting money over the next 7 or 8 weeks to send over and allow them to build their church building. They took an offering and raised, in one Sunday, just over 700 dollars.
Why? Because they hated to but did anyway? Because they had to? No. Because they wanted to.
Last Sunday we started a tradition that I saw in Africa where the offering was brought forward and raised up and dedicated to the Lord. At the end of our service we’ll do the same thing – and if you give this morning; don’t give if you don’t want to – and don’t give because you have to – give only because your heart is moved – and you want to. Then we’ll dedicate it to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.