Monday, June 30, 2014

Romans 3:9–18

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; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

The Apostle Paul here continues his exhortation that Jews, though having privileges (and responsibilities) in being chosen by God, are not because of them, any better than the Gentiles (consider Deut. 9:4-6; Acts 7:51-53). For as the Apostle Paul has already demonstrated, and he reiterates here in verse nine. Both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, and thus all are in need of the Gospel. Therefore the Apostle Paul is challenging his Jewish countrymen's arrogance if they feel they do not need the Gospel like the rest of humanity does. Now that haughtiness of spirit is not unique too them. For people in church communities can likewise develop that same sort of attitude. And so what we have here in verses 10-18 is a Scriptural rebuke of all such arrogance and or self-sufficient attitudes, whether emanating from Jews or Gentiles. Now to do this the Apostle Paul will quote from several Scriptural passages bringing them together into one cohesive thought. And so starting in verse ten to verse twelve, the Apostle Paul will strikingly quote from Psalm 14:1-3 (which is also paralleled in Psalm 53:1-3). Striking because this Psalm opens with a rebuke of the ungodly and unbelieving. And so the Apostle Paul's use of it here is not simply a rebuff of the ungodly, but rather it's quoted verses cuts deeply to the heart of the human condition, as seen from heaven, before there is genuine repentance and faith before God. Thus it describes us all (to lessor or greater decrees), whether religious or not, before salvation. And so looking at them individually, starting with verse ten which says: "There is none righteous, no, not one." The Apostle Paul Scripturally then confronts this cold hard fact about the human race. That there is no one (whether religious or not) who is righteous in the sight of God, in of themselves. Just as Jesus' said when correcting the Rich young rulers presumption about H/himself (see Matt 19:5-6, as well as Isaiah 64:6). Yet this truth is often the greatest barrier for people to overcome before coming to God. Because it assails all human pride that wants to believe otherwise. For if people are inherently good than there would've been no need for Jesus Christ to suffer and die on the Cross. God could've remedied the whole siltation by simply encouraging us all to live better lives. And in time things would've gotten better. Yet because we know that evil and desires for it are so prevalent within every human heart and soul; because of indwelling sin. As well that Satan (and his forces) are also actively at work in this world, deceiving and manipulating people into doing his destructive desires in the earth. That the only remedy is a complete and total transformation of it all. Literally as the Bible says the regeneration of each believing person, and then at the end, all of creation. For Jesus Christ will rule over all the new a creation, of not only the people redeemed by Him, but also a new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells (Isaiah 65:17-25; 66:22; 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 21-22:5) And then when all things are made subject to Him, He Himself will be subject to the Father (1 Cor 15:20-28).

And so all of creation is corrupted by sin, thus sin is the number one problem that mankind faces. For all other problems have their root in it. Thus sin by it's very nature puts us at enmity with God. For there is no one who lives in sin, who either understands the things of God, or seeks after God (vs. 11). And that is the present condition of this world and the people within it. "They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." vs. 12  Therefore if there were any who were "good" amongst us, it is quite possible God could've employed one of us in bringing about our redemption from sin and death. Yet in searching both His chosen people, and all the earth (through the many centuries of human history) He found no one. "Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him." Isaiah 59:16
For as the Apostle Paul goes on too quote from the Scriptures, citing now from Palm 5:9, he sees people's lives not only being lived indifferently towards God, but also he sees the human tongue, which is so powerful a tool of communication only becoming the means by which this worlds sin separated state is not only being manifested, but sadly multiplied in the earth, just as the passage states: “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”. vs. 13 For truly in every culture, in every generation, the human tongue is never sanctified for given God praise and Glory. But rather it always becomes an organ by which mankind's sinful heart and desires are both revealed and multiplied in the earth, as Jesus said (see Matt 12:34-37; 15:16-20). And so from blasphemy, to lies, to every other form of evil. It all flows out of dead hearts, souls and lives, filling the air with the resonance of death, as their mouths become like open tombs, by which their spiritual condition is not only revealed, but they also propagate more sin and death in the earth through it. As the Scripture says', “The poison of asps is under their lips”. For just like deadly snake venom, so unregenerate mankind's tongues inevitably become the means of bringing forth more death, not life into this world (consider Prov 18:21: James 3). Thus the Apostle Paul again reaching into the Psalms in verse fourteen now quotes from Psalm 10:7 which again is another rebuke of wicked, which says, “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”  And so if anyone still presumes upon the "goodness of humanity" just let them go into any public venue where people gather and it won't be long until their ears are filled with the cursing and bitterness that is the human condition.
 Therefore from their tongue to their feet, literally head to toe, mankind's person is not set towards peace with God or even ones fellow person, but instead is at odds with Him and each other. That is what is being revealed to us in verses fifteen to eighteen, which states: 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” The Apostle Paul quoting from Isaiah 59:7-8 in verses 15-17, then from Psalm 36:1 in verse eighteen, which again is an oracle about the wicked. Tells us that universally, humanity from Adam and Even forward all have gone astray, all have corrupted themselves, all have become unprofitable. From their tongues which only become vessels of cursing and bitterness, through which lies, blasphemy, slander and every evil desire is declared and multiplied in the earth, too their feet which are swift to carry out evil and murderous desires in the earth. And so there is nothing at the end of it all, but a trail of misery and destruction that is left in their wake. For there is no fear of God in the unregenerate human heart, the gay "pride" parades that have exploded (and have now become universally "acceptable") in the last few years give testimony to that fact (consider 2 Peter 2:6). For the sinful human heart will always find some way to manifest it's own condition. Which is why mankind universally needs the Gospel. For unless there is a total Spirit transformation (i.e. regeneration of a person), there will be no change of the heart and soul its lost and sinful condition. And God is the only Person who can accomplish that in us and for us. The means of which Paul will address starting in Rom 3:20 which will begin the next blog.

Scripture Citations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982


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