by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1 May 3, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(122)Thesis:Apart from the Gospel, all of humanity is enslaved by Sin.
Introduction:Last week we took on a fairly large "chunk" of Paul's argument in Romans 2:17-3:8. We saw that the overall issue that is involved is the theological reality that God uses the sins of men to accomplish His objectives. There are two dangers involved in this reality. The first is that men might begin to think that there is something unjust about God if He actually does that. The second is that men might begin to think lightly of their sins if God is willing to use them to accomplish His will. Neither of these dangerous notions is not dangerous. If my grasp of God's character, in terms of Justice, begins to disintegrate, my willingness to respond to Him will disintegrate also. This is why one of the greatest feats the Adversary has ever dreamed up and accomplished has been to persuade creatures that they have the right to decide if God is fair or not. If it ever gets into a person's head that he has the right to decide that he will respond to God only if God meets his criteria, it is almost all over but the eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is a masterful and cunning delusion for creatures to embrace the idea that they have a right to qualify their relationship to God. On the other hand, if my thinking runs to the other error -- that God's use of my sins for His purposes means my sins aren't all that bad and, in fact, are actually a divine good -- it will immediately transpire that I will no longer have any dread feelings about my guilt. Instead of being driven by guilt to search for relief from my sins, I will become incredibly comfortable doing all manner of things the Bible is not the least bit unclear about.
So, this evening we are going to move a step further into Paul's material, but, because we covered a good bit of stuff last week, we can easily "justify" a bit of "review".
I. Paul's Summons to a Conclusion: Romans 3:9.
A. In this context, Paul has twice addressed the issue of coming to some kind of conclusion.
1. In 3:5 he called for a response to the seriously dangerous fact that God uses man's sins for His own purposes.
2. Now, in 3:9 he is again calling for a response to the larger issue of God's gracious provision of His oracles to a largely unbelieving nation.
B. This larger issue has always been a critical issue, but it is becoming even more critical in our generation.
1. By way of review, what is the issue?
a. First, it is the issue of the fact that "oracles" from God exist.
1) Oracles are, first, words.
2) But oracles are also words with the divinestamp of Truth upon them [Note 1 Thessalonians 2:13].
3) And oracles as utterances of irrefutable Truth are also daily confrontations as Romans 10:21 and Proverbs 1:20-21 clearly declare.
b. Second, it is the issue of the fact that these existing "oracles" owe their existence to one divine objective: Life for the Believer.
1) Life is God's objective for those who will trust what He says.
2) Twisting "Life" into something contrary to the words of God is absolutely destructive.
3) Thus, making a part of the mechanism of "Life" to be one's superiority over others is a fatal action.
c. Third, it is the issue that these oracles constitute a true "advantage" and "profit".
1) This is true most especially for those who believe.
2) This is also true even when those who believe don't believe...even if every man proves to be a liar, God's glory will be known by their lies.
2. The cruciality of the issue.
a. The "Jews" had turned the oracles of God into an instrument of death by twisting them into the service of their status lust.
b. By this action, the "Jews" had turned the nations against a willingness to hear the oracles of God.
c. This unwillingness guaranteed the death of all of those who went there.
3. In our generation the cruciality is at its greatest point.
a. Because this generation is almost completely biblically illiterate, while, at the same time, priding itself on its "knowledge" of the Bible, its destruction is underwritten.
b. Because this generation's proud ignorance is in spite of 2000 years of divine promotion of His words, the judgment is going to be worse.
II. Paul's Rejection of an Anticipated Conclusion.
A. Paul raises an anticipated conclusion in the words, "Are we better than they?".
1. This anticipation is rooted in Paul's awareness that two things have happened.
a. His generation has twisted the purpose of the oracles into a means of self-exaltation.
b. His generation has turned "advantage" into "superiority".
2. This anticipation is a majority conclusion. Paul doesn't address minor possible conclusions.
B. Paul flatly denies this conclusion.
1. This is not the powerful denial found in 3:4 and 3:6 where the issues are God-focused.
2. But, it is an all-inclusive denial within the context of those outside of the Gospel.
III. Paul's Conclusion.
A. Everyone has already been charged with the same reality.
B. That reality is the total dominion of Sin over man.
1. No one has escaped.
2. The dominion is beyond human control.
a. In respect to 1:18-32, we have 1:32.
b. In respect to 2:1-16, we have 2:5.
c. In respect to 2:17-3:8, we have 2:24.
3. The dominion means that humanity is in massive straits.
a. Eternity is real.
b. Judgment is forever.
c. Condemnation is inescapable if men persist in refusing to relate to God on the basis of His Life-Focused Oracles.