“You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.”
Read Romans 3
- Verses 1-8: We are unrighteous and deserve the infliction of wrath upon us. Because we are sinful, we are unable to bring goodness out of our evil actions. Even the “good” action which we do perform are riddled with inconsistencies of the heart; rendering everything that we do essentially impure. This is not so for God. God can use and even intend something that appears evil and create goodness out of it, which is what he did with the sorrowful cross. “The murder of Christ at Calvary has brought the greatest possible benefit to us, yet It was a high crime against God, the greatest of all crimes, when man committed deicide and slew the Son of God.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon
- Verses 9-20: Paul then transitions to everyone, including believers (“What then? Are we [Christians] better off?). Paul’s goal in this section to emphasize that all are under sin, Jew and Gentile alike. There is no exception. The diagnosis of our spiritual life is death. It is not simply that we are ailing but are able to do what is right in optimal circumstances. In reality, “There is none righteous, not even one… Their [Our] throat is an open grave.” Our fallen state not only extends throughout all of humanity, but it is pervasive and conquering of the human soul before Christ. We cannot, in our own power, make an effectual movement towards our Creator because our works are but filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). We must hope for something that can free us from bondage and enable us to move towards God. “We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.” ~ R.C. Sproul
- Verses 21-31: Paul drives home depravity: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” What option is left for us? An atoning sacrifice. “Atonement” might be an odd word but ponder this thought on the atonement from Spurgeon: “Our sins are taken off of us and laid on Christ Jesus, the innocent substitute.” The sacrifice of Christ on Calvary means that we are imputed with his righteousness, as he graciously bears the wickedness of our sin. The result? Reconciliation with God and victory over death and darkness in Christ Jesus. The blood of Christ causes the Father to pass over us, and that phrase is intended to make us think of the Angel of Death passing over Israelite homes in Egypt due to the blood of the lamb on the doorpost. Jesus is the ultimate and final lamb, and that is why the judgment of God passes over us. In the same vein, because the work is done wholly by Christ on the cross, this eliminates any possibility of boasting, because our righteousness before God is not our own, but Christ’s righteousness.
- How often do we discuss God’s wrath in church? Why is it such an uncomfortable topic?
- How does this perspective of depravity affect your understanding of yourself? At the same time, how does this affect your view of God’s grace in light of your depravity?
- What is the essence of atonement? Why did Jesus have to die? Why did Jesus have to be resurrected?
- Lord, you are great and glorious in all of your ways. Our unrighteousness highlights your perfection and power in the world. As Ephesians 2:3 says, we were children of wrath before we were reconciled unto Christ. Thank you for bringing us into your kingdom. In the broken state of my depravity, you chased me down so that I may be redeemed and in communion with you. The dominion of darkness in me was taken away by you, O Lord. God, I know that I rarely live my everyday life keeping in mind how far-reaching your love is. It is only when I realize my depravity that I can truly appreciate the size of grace with which you have saved me. Help me to abide in you and your truth daily because you first loved me (1 John 4:18) in my broken state. Amen.