Romans 3:1-20

The Horrible Sinfulness of Sin

  1. We are all totally unrighteous before God. (Romans 3:1-9)
  2. We are all totally depraved by sin. (Romans 3:10-18)
  3. We are all totally accountable to God. (Romans 3:19-20)

• “A great deal of the theological impotence of our generation can be traced to what our ancestors would have called a severely deficient sense of the horrible sinfulness of sin.” - Donald Williams

• In 1973, psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled: Whatever Became of Sin? “In all of the laments and reproaches made by our [leaders], one misses any mention of ‘sin,’ a word which used to be a veritable watchword of prophets… Wrong things are being done, we know; tares are being sown in the wheat fields at night. But is no one responsible, no one answerable for these acts? Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings; but has no one committed any sins? Where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it?”

Romans 3:1 (NASB), Then what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First, that they were entrusted with the actual words of God. 3 What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4 Far from it! Rather, God must prove to be true, though every person be found a liar, as it is written: So that You are justified in Your words, And prevail when You are judged.” Romans 3:5 (NASB), But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking from a human viewpoint.) 6 Far from it! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say (just as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let’s do evil that good may come of it”? Their condemnation is deserved. 9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin…

  1. We are all totally unrighteous before God (3:1-9)

Paul answers four rhetorical question from Jewish detractors who are trying to squirm out of their accountability to God. The four questions rephrased are:

  1. What advantage is there in being Jewish (religious)?
  2. Will God be faithful to keep His promises to unfaithful people?
  3. If our sin proves God is the only one righteous, then will God go easy on us?
  4. If our lies prove only God is true, then why not lie?

Romans 3:9 (NASB), What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written: “There is no righteous person, not even one; 11 There is no one who understands, There is no one who seeks out God; 12 They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, There is not even one.”

Romans 3:13 (NASB), “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The venom of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 Destruction and misery are in their paths, 17 And they have not known the way of peace.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

  1. We are all totally depraved. (Romans 3:10-18)

• No one is righteous. (Ps. 143) • No one seeks God. No one does good. (Ps. 14) • No one fears God. (Ps. 36) • The tongue deceives. (Ps. 5) • The mouth curses. (Ps. 10) • The feet are swift to shed blood. (Is. 59)

Total Depravity:

• Humanity is corrupted by sin extensively – in character, conduct, and conversation.

• We are totally unable to save ourselves.

  1. We are all totally accountable to God.

Romans 3:19 (NASB), Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law none of mankind will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes knowledge of sin.

• The climactic conclusion to this section is this: • No one can work their way out of their sin problem. • No one can be justified in God’s sight on their own. • There is nothing we can say and nothing we can do about it. • We are all totally lost, and totally accountable to God. • Only God can save us.

“We human beings have both a unique dignity as creatures made in God’s image and a unique depravity as sinners under his judgement.” - John Stott

Hymn: The 90 and 9

There were ninety and nine that safely lay In the shelter of the fold; But one was out on the hills away, Far off from the gates of gold. Away on the mountains wild and bare; Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

“Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine; Are they not enough for Thee?” But the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine Has wandered away from Me. And although the road be rough and steep, I go to the desert to find My sheep.”