Part 2 – Bad News That is Really Good News
As Paul moves into the third chapter of his Letter to the Romans he anticipates the questions that the Jewish believers would have since he just finished lambasting them about the worthlessness of circumcision – or any other Jewish ritual – if it doesn’t involve a circumcision of the heart – a true conversion, which can only come from the Spirit of the Lord by His grace. In the first eight verses he asks a series of questions, and in verse nine he concludes with one more important question: “What then? Are we better than they?”
Paul then goes on to quote a series of Old Testament verses that speak of the total depravity, or the total inability of fallen man to do anything that warrants salvation. In verses nine, ten, and eleven he mentions three points that disqualify all mankind.
- No one is righteous, no not one: Righteous means ‘always doing the right thing’, or to be clean and holy before the Lord God; and fallen man never does the right thing (worship and love God), nor are they holy and clean before the Lord. Fallen man/sinners are in need of someone to be righteous for them, and that is what Christ has done for us. Through His sacrifice and resurrection, and through the grace of the impartation of His Spirit within us, His righteousness has become our righteousness.
- There is no one who understands: Since we are all born in sin and have suppressed the truth of God’s power and divine attributes which are shown to us spiritually through creation, no one wants to know, nor can they know – know intimately – who the Triune God is. This knowledge – this intimacy can only come by God’s grace through Christ who first loved us – who put that love into our hearts, which enables us to ‘know’, ‘understand’, or ‘love’ the Lord God.
- There is no one who seeks God: Since fallen man is a natural enemy of the Lord God, he has absolutely no desire to seek after the Lord. Man is dead in his sin and incapable of ‘seeking the Lord’. If they are seeking anything, they are seeking the benefits without seeking the One who is worthy. The Lord God sought us and found us and placed His redeeming love in our hearts.
Paul has much more to say about the spiritual state and condition of fallen man apart from the Lord God, and we will get back to those verses in this third chapter in January.