“Accused and Condemned”
August 28, 2016
A number of years ago singer Billy Joel talked about his spiritual life: “I wasn’t raised Catholic, but I used to go to Mass with my friends and I viewed the whole business as a lot of very enthralling hocus-pocus. There’s a guy…nailed to a cross and dripping blood, and everybody’s blaming themselves for that man’s torment, but I said to myself, ‘Forget it. I had no hand in that evil. I have no original sin. There’s no blood of any sacred martyr on my hands. I pass on all this.’”
It is just that kind of person that Paul is addressing in Romans 1-3.
Remember that Paul is writing this letter to a church has not met; and he is going to ask them to be his base of operations for a westward advance of the gospel (15:22-29). He is going to want them to support him spiritually and financially, but first he must demonstrate his worthiness to minister in their name. So he writes this letter to articulate his theological beliefs, particularly as they relate to the gospel he will carry to Spain. And he starts his explanation of the gospel where all good gospel explanations begin — with the sinfulness of man. From 1:18 – 3:20, he has been explaining that all men are sinners. Gentiles are sinners (1:18-32). Jews are sinners (2:1-29). All men are sinners (3:1-8). And he demonstrates that this isn’t just his idea, but that this is also the teaching of the OT (3:9-18). And now finally, in 3:19-20, he comes to a conclusion — all men are sinners, and because of that sin, all men are condemned —
All men are sinners. And all men are condemned.
In these two verses Paul identifies three accusations by which all men are condemned as sinners.
As we begin, we should also remind ourselves why this doctrine of man’s depravity is important. It is essential, because as Billy Joel demonstrated for us, if man doesn’t see himself as a sinner, then he will never see his need for a Savior. And if he doesn’t see his need for a Savior, then he will never repent and he will never be spared from the eternal flames of Hell and the infinite wrath of God.
The depravity of man is an essential doctrine. Man can do nothing to save himself. All men need a Savior.
Here, then, are the three condemnations of man that Paul makes as he summarizes and concludes:
- All Men Are Condemned in the Law (v. 19a)
- All Men Are Condemned Because of Inability (v. 20a)
- All Men Are Condemned Through Knowledge of the Law (v. 20b)
Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 3:19-20.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.