Romans 3 is my favorite chapter in all of Scripture, and Romans is my favorite book in all of Scripture. Paul charges us with fourteen counts of sin using judicially strategic language.
Paul answers a couple of questions early in this chapter in an effort to anticipate objections to this doctrine of justification by faith. He knows that doctrines of grace are going to trouble the people in Rome – both those who worship the idols of the day and those who rely on their religious achievements.
Paul’s Fourteen “Charges” Against Humanity
Then, in one of the most dramatic sections in all of Scripture, Paul lists fourteen “charges” against all of humanity. He says that no one is righteous, and it gets worse from there.
Before diving into this incredible chapter in this episode, I read Romans 11:33-36. The reason for this is that it is, in my opinion, the centerpiece or cornerstone of this epistle to the church at Rome. It lays out so clearly who God is, and by inference, it contrasts God with us. I don’t believe it is hyperbolic for me to say that this section of the letter in Romans 11 gave me and continues to provide me with a clear understanding of who God is.
A summary of this section is that we can fathom the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are inscrutable. We don’t fully know His mind, and no one has given Him counsel. We aren’t even on par to give gifts to Him. All things are from Him, through Him, and to Him. And all glory is His forever.
We Don’t Seek God
This sets the stage and provides helpful context for understanding the way Paul indicts all of us in Romans 3. We aren’t righteous. Period. We don’t seek God. No. We don’t. We are worthless and we don’t do good. And he goes on to describe our throats and mouths in the most unflattering terms. He says that our paths are ruin and misery, and he says that we don’t know peace or fear God. He goes on to say that no human is justified in God’s sight through the law.
Next week, we will address the courtroom scene that Paul describes in the rest of chapter 3. He pivots to justification by faith and explains it beautifully. This is our great hope! This is the key to life! This is God’s will for us! We don’t have to fret, and Paul spells out the facts that give us confidence.
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