I. Everyone is under sin. This means HELPLESS [Romans 3:9 – 20].
A. Two truths come with this fact.
1. Sin has consequences.
a. For the believer, it means God’s discipline.
b. For the one who is not a believer it means condemnation and wrath. It will result in eternal hell if the person does not repent and believe in Jesus.
2. Sin is not open to human interpretation.
a. God has defined “sin.” The church has not defined sin, a preacher has not defined sin, the individual can not define sin.
(Ill.) That was part of the temptation in the Garden of Eden. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." [The devil speaking to Eve in Genesis 3:5] The lie was that they already KNEW good (obeying God) and evil (disobeying God). The lie was that we could define good and evil.
b. The interpretation of sin is not subject to what the culture or society says.
***** Right is right if no one is doing it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. *****
B. Religious/Ethnic affiliation is irrelevant (does not matter).
1. [v 10] Fact: No religious practice works (to save).
a. “Righteousness” apart from Jesus is impossible.
b. Isaiah 64:6 “our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”
2. [v 11] Fact: There is no true seeking God.
a. People APPEAR to seek after God, but not on God’s terms. What happens is we create God in our own image.
b. The Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]
3. [v 12] Fact: There are no good works that save.
a. People do a lot of good things (hospitals, police, schools, etc...) but we are talking about spiritual matters. In other words, from the view of EARNING salvation, it’s all meaningless.
b. Our good works are tainted because we can never truly be obedient to God in our own understanding and power.
***** As Americans it is too easy for us to believe that we earn or deserve what we have. Historically, we have worked hard. You might say we have been driven. We value the driven. Which makes it hard for us to understand that spiritually it does not work that way. *****
C. All are accountable to God. [“all have sinned...” Romans 3:23]
1. [Romans 1:20] We are all without excuse.
a. Even the “pagans.”
b. Even those ignorant (never heard) of the truth.
2. [Romans 2:1 – 5] Our polished philosophies are worthless.
a. The Greeks saw themselves as “moral” and distinguished themselves from the barbarians.
b. The Romans had the rule of law and their culture to separate themselves from others.
c. These things are incomplete without Jesus.
3. [Romans 3:1 – 3] Our religious ritual and practice is empty.
a. The Jews had the Scriptures, the temple and the sacrificial system.
b. They could quote Scripture and all the scholars, but they missed Jesus.
***** It is impossible for anyone, under any conditions or circumstances to be declared righteous EXCEPT FOR THE BLOOD OF JESUS. The trouble is that as American we do not want to be accountable to anyone except ourselves (as individuals, not society or a group). *****
II. Since we are helpless under sin, God stepped into the situation [Romans 3:21 – 31].
A. God provides a righteousness apart from the law [v 21].
1. [v 22] Righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
a. Romans 1:17 tells us it is a “gift.”
b. This righteousness is based on God’s character [Romans 3:5, 25, 27].
2. [v 24] Justification (being declared free from God’s wrath) comes freely by God’s grace (through Jesus).
a. This is the state of being accounted righteous before God.
b. The problem is that if this is true than we are no different than anyone else. If you work for something (earn it) it distinguishes you from others. If it is a gift then anyone and everyone has the right to it (even those we may want to fear and hate).
3. What do you have to do to get a gift?
b. You do have to receive it.
***** Freedom from the eternal consequences and present control and guilty of sin is through Jesus. *****
(Ill.) The hymn “Solid Rock” says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.”
B. God provides a sacrifice of atonement (covering, payment, satisfaction).
1. [v 25] Thus, we have salvation through faith in Jesus’ blood (the payment to cover our sins and satisfy the wrath of God).
2. [v 25] There is the issue of “justice” (fairness). God demonstrated justice by:
a. Allowing Jesus to die in our place. [Sound fair? Not for someone (Jesus) who is innocent.]
b. Allowing Jesus to go to hell in our place. [Sound fair? Not for someone (Jesus) who is innocent.]
The Bible says: “...the punishment that brought us peace was upon him...” [Isaiah 53:5]
3. [v 25] There is the issue of “forbearance” (patience).
a. God withheld justice.
b. The Bible says: “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” [Psalm 103:10]
c. The Bible says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” [1 Peter 3:9]
III. The choice is now your, you must respond.
A. If you think you heard this sermon say “God is good, you are not, try harder” you have missed the point.
1. There is no try in “faith.”
2. There is only trust.
B. [v 28] Be justified by faith.
1. [v 24] The idea of “freely” emphasizes the absence of any cause or action in the person who is the object of the action. That’s the core of “grace.” God WANTS TO do this for those who are helpless, undeserving, etc...
2. Faith means trust. It means to trust what Jesus has done for you.
a. It is an absolute trust.
b. It is an absolute dependence on God.
3. This means you will have to stop trusting yourself and the things you do.
C. Believe Jesus.
1. Accept that gift... open it. Make it the principle that you live your life by.
2. Now celebrate! God’s grace, Jesus’ blood makes all the difference in the world... in eternity.