- Alan Salwei
Romans 3:9-20 - Hurts So Good
Sometimes the truth hurts, but God's truth hurts in order to heal.
Read / Listen
Read Romans 3:9-20
9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 3
Q. How do you come to know your misery?
A. The law of God tells me.
One of our human tendencies is to lay blame on others while claiming yourself as blameless. These actions are common in children, yet adults are not immune to this either.
It is this type of situation to which Paul steps in to give clarification. In these passages Paul argues that the Jewish believers were not in a superior position to the non-Jewish followers of Christ.
The crux of his argument is the fact that both are under sin.
Paul quotes a series of Old Testament passages from the Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah which together show the sinfulness of all mankind.
Following this reminder of the sinfulness of all people, Paul points out in v19 that the law, in what we today call the Old Testament, was written to the Jewish people. The words so that every mouth may be stopped come as a reference to court customs of the Jewish people. When someone was done with their defense, they would put their hand over their mouth to signify they were finished speaking in their own defense.
Since the law was given to the Jewish people, their mouths are silenced, for there is nothing else they can say in their defense. They were given the law, and Paul was certain to point out that they did not keep the law.
In v20, Paul gives the clarification the Jewish people needed to hear: no one can be justified by upkeeping the law. Yes, they had the law, but they were unable to keep it.
Instead, the function of the law is the agent through which we come to know our sin.
Learning is a life-long process. Regardless of what kind of diploma one might go on to earn, there is always more to know. Some of this is based upon our own limitations to learn, our inclination to forget, or more information being discovered.
There are different ways that we learn, through life experience, a class, or reading a book. When it comes to our sin, which is the source of our misery, the Bible is where we learn the depth of our sinfulness.
While it is unpleasant to be confronted with your own sinfulness, this serves an important role in your life. It is through this confrontation with our sin that we come to know the depth of our misery and our need for a savior.
Truly, if you had no awareness of your debt of sin, how then could you come to know your need for the grace of Jesus?
Praise God for all that He does on our behalf, including giving us the Word of God which makes us aware of our sinful state and need for redemption.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Father in heaven, your name is holy, and your law demands perfect righteousness.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Keep me close to your law, so that I continually recognize my own sinfulness and cling even tighter to the cross of Christ.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Mark 6