Robert Jeffress - Verdict: Guilty
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. As Christians, our mission is to act as salt and light and to do everything possible to preserve our nation so that there's time to share the good news. People need to know that God offers forgiveness to everyone, if they'll only put their faith in Jesus Christ. But in today's culture in which we seem to have everything, people fail to see their need for a Savior. Well today, we'll open our Bibles to Romans chapter three to discover the severity of man's sinful condition. My message is titled, "Verdict: Guilty!", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Today, people don't take the subject of sin seriously. Author John Ortberg who's going to be here in a couple of weeks for our power lunch notes that today the accusation, you have sinned is usually said with a grin. Is usually said as an inside joke and then we tend to use the word sin in a frivolous way. For example, if you're trying to describe a hot vacation place, what do you say? Come to Las Vegas, sin city. Or sometimes we use the word sin to describe a highly caloric dessert on a menu. Absolutely, what? Sinful. I was thinking this week. What if we changed words? To have some fun instead of using the word sin, what if we used the word cancer? Come to Las Vegas, cancer city. How many people would sign up for that destination? Or if you were looking at a menu that said this dessert is absolutely cancerous, would you be tempted to order? No. Cancer is no laughing matter. It is a serious disease. It certainly nothing to joke about. And neither is sin.
Sin is a disease that destroys our quality of life in this world, but it also robs us of eternal life in the next world. And the bad news is we've all contracted this deadly disease called sin and that's why we need a divine remedy. That's the theme of the book of Romans. And today, we're going to continue our study of the book of Romans by looking at Romans chapter three, beginning with verse nine as Paul reminds us of the seriousness of the human condition. And like a lawyer, Paul makes a sound argument, beginning in chapters, one, two and three to show that all humanity stands guilty before God. The pagan who has never heard the Gospel, Paul says is still guilty. The moralist who two tries to follow a moral code, he's guilty. Even the Jew, and remember Paul was a Jew. The Jew who tries to keep the Old Testament law, he stands condemned guilty before God as well.
And now Paul is ready, like a good prosecuting attorney to make his summation before the audience. And we find the summation of Paul's argument in Romans three, beginning with verse nine. He says, "What then are we better than they? Not at all, for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin". Notice, Paul has been talking about other people, the moralist, the pagan, the Jew without Christ, but then he adds that damning word, we. Are we better than they? No. We have all contracted this deadly disease called sin. I've contracted it, the pastor of the first Baptist church of Dallas. The pope has contracted it. You have contracted it. We are all under sin. That's what Paul was saying here. And when he uses the word, under, this word, under, hupo in Greek is a word that doesn't just mean beneath. It means under the control, under the influence, under the power of sin.
Comedian, Woody Allen and one of his more reflective moments said, "For all of my education, accomplishments and so-called wisdom, I can't fathom my own heart". That's an honest statement. Woody Allen may not be able to diagnose the condition of his heart, but there was a prophet who lived 2.500 years ago who could understand the human heart. His name was Jeremiah. And in Jeremiah 17:9, he offers this x-ray of the human heart and the prognosis is not good. He writes, "For the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it"? That you read this and say, no, wait a minute, pastor. Wicked? My heart? No way. He must be talking about somebody else. My heart's not wicked. I'm a pretty good person. And I'm certainly not deserving to be separated from God forever.
Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse writes, "Man stands before God today like a little boy who swears with crying and tears that he's not been anywhere near the jam jar and who with an air of outraged innocence, pleads the justice of his position and total ignorance of the fact that a good spoonful of the Jam has fallen on his shirt under his chin and is plainly visible to all, but himself".
We're like that little boy. We protest our innocence. We're not guilty. We're not deserving of hell. Not realizing the fact that the stain of our sin is evident for everyone to see. And that's what Romans chapters one, two and three are about. About our sinfulness before God. Paul has already said in chapter one, we're all under sin. But remember Paul was writing primarily to Jews. Jews living in Rome. And they probably thought, well, Paul, we're not guilty. We're God's own people. We don't need Christ. And so to show the guilt of all humanity in verses 10 through 18, Paul quotes from the Old Testament. He quotes mainly from the Psalms and then from Isaiah to show that even the Old Testament gives this negative diagnosis of the human heart. And that's why, look at your Bibles in verses 10 through 18. You see those words either in all capital letters or in a quotation Marks, these are quotations from the Old Testament that proved the fact we are guilty before God.
What is the stain? What is the evidence that is visible that we indeed are corrupt? Paul says, first of all, our sinfulness is seen by our corrupt desires, our corrupt desires. Look at verse 10 of Romans three, "For as it is written," now he goes to the Old Testament, "There is none righteous, no, not even one, there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God for all have turned aside, together they have become useless, there is none who does good, there is not even one". In these three short verses, Paul uses the term, no one, not even one, six times to show the desperate condition of the human heart. By the way, these are verses that are used to support the doctrine of what we call the total depravity of man. What do we mean when we say, man is totally depraved? We're talking about the fact that man apart from Christ is corrupt that is sin has polluted every part of our lives. And because sin has polluted every part of us, God looks on us as completely unrighteous.
In Genesis 6:5, we find this diagnosis by God of man's spiritual condition before he sent the great flood. "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually". That's how a perfect God looks at all of us. Every intent of our heart is only evil continually. Notice in these verses, five statements that Paul makes about us. First of all, he says, "No one is righteous". In verse 10, "No one is righteous". That word, righteous means to be in a right standing with God. He says, "Nobody is righteous". Now again, we have trouble with that belief. I mean, we look at the Dallas morning news and we read a story about a man who kills his wife and his three children. And then we turned the page and we read about a fireman who risked his own life to save a family. And we say, Paul has to be wrong here. There's a great difference between different people. There are good people and there are bad people, not according to God's perspective. We who are sinful human beings.
We see a lot of difference between people, between the righteous and the unrighteous. But those differences are minuscule from God's perfect perspective of perfection. In our perspective, we see a great deal of difference between a Walt Disney who brought pleasure to millions of children and an Adolf Hitler who murdered millions of children. But listen to me, from the perspective of a perfect God, there is no difference. We have all sinned. There's not one righteous among us. No, not even one. Secondly, he says, "No one understands". That is another evidence of our corrupt desires is nobody understands the truth that Christ came to die for us. Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 2:14, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised".
Now again, we have difficulty with that. We said, "Well, they're all kind of intellectual people who aren't Christians who understand the basic tenants of the Christian faith". They understand the Gospel intellectually, but that's not what Paul is saying. By understanding, he's saying, there is no one who apart from God understands to the point of salvation, who willingly confesses his sin and his need for Christ.
Number three, he says in verse 11, "There is no one who seeks for God". That is another evidence of man's corrupt desires that absolutely no one is searching for God. Now, if ever there was an error in the Bible, here it is, because we just know we think that's just not true. There are millions of people around the world who are searching for and worshiping God. Listen to me, the fact that there are thousands of religions in the world today is not a testimony of man's Godliness. It's a testimony of man's ungodliness. That was Paul's argument in Romans chapter one. He said, every person on the planet has received the knowledge of the true God, but he has rejected that knowledge of the true God and replaced it with a God of his own making. And the fact that people are running around worshiping other Gods is not a testimony to man's Godliness, it's to his ungodliness. There's no one who searches for God.
You say, well, if that's true, how does anybody ever find the true God? How did I ever find God? If nobody is searching for God, how does anybody find God? The answer is the only way you'll search for God is if God first does a work in your heart. Anyone who wants to is free, absolutely free to come to Christ. The problem is it's not in our nature to want to come to Christ. God has to do a work, a change in our life before we will ever respond to the Gospel.
Number four, he said another evidence of our corrupt desires is that "All have turned aside from God". This word translated turned aside as a military term. It means to desert, to turn your back on. That's what he says. We have all turned our back on God. Isaiah, the prophet said it this way in Isaiah 53, "For all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one of us to our own way". And then he says, there's a climax to this section. "We have become useless". The natural person apart from God is absolutely useless. That word translated useless in Greek is a word that refers to milk that has become rancid or sour. That's exactly the word Paul uses to describe our good works before God. The Bible says the best you and I can do is like sour milk. It's like a filthy rag onto God. Our guiltiness before God is seen. First of all, through our corrupt desires. Secondly, the stained of our sin is evidenced by our corrupt discourse.
Look at verses 13 and 14. "Their throat is an open grave. And with their tongues they keep deceiving. The poison of asps is under their lips whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness". Our speech reveals that we have been stained from sin. The fact that out of our mouth comes cursing and bitterness and filthy talk is evidence of the corruption of our own heart. Let me say this, by the way, do you know what the greatest vindication of whether or not you're a Christian is? It's not your profession of faith. It's not your baptism. The greatest indication of whether or not you belong to Christ is your speech. What comes out of your mouth. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 12:35. "The good man out of his treasure brings forth what is good and the evil treasure brings forth what is evil". Our tongue, our speech is like a bucket that goes down into the inner most part of our heart and brings up what is in our heart. Paul is saying the greatest evidence of a person's sin, his corruption is his corrupt discourse. Paul has talked about our corrupt desires, our corrupt discourse.
Thirdly, notice, our sin is evidenced by our corrupt deeds. Look at verse 15. "Their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths. And in the path of peace, they have not known". It's interesting how Paul is going through the different body parts to show we've all been infected with sin, our tongue, our mouth and now our feet. And what are the evidences of our guilt before God is our propensity toward violence. I was reading this week. In our country, there is a murder committed every 32 minutes. There is a rape committed every seven minutes. A violent, assault every 5.5 seconds. And yes, it's true that over the last 20 years that rate of violent crime has decreased, but most criminologists believe it's because we're incarcerating more people for longer periods of time, not because there's any basic change in the human condition. Our propensity to violence, the propensity of our culture to celebrate violence, to watch violence, to take its entertainment value from violence as a result and an evidence of our corruption.
I want to remind you talking about Noah and the great flood. In Genesis chapter six, do you know the stated reason that God destroyed the world? It wasn't because of sexual immorality which was certainly rampant. It was because of violence in the land. What man did to man. That's the stated reason that God destroyed the world. And we find the climax in verse 18, the bottom line issue in all of this corruption is this. Look at verse 18. "There is no fear of God before their eyes". Ladies and gentlemen, that is the greatest evidence of our guilt before God is our lack of fear of God. What's the solution? What can we do to change the human condition? Is it education? Is it reformation? Here's the whole point. There's nothing we can do. Look at verse 19. Paul says, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God". And Paul is saying, there are no excuses. There's nothing left to be said about man's condition, except one word, guilty. And were you notice he says, at one day, one point, every mouth will be closed.
Do you remember in Matthew seven, Jesus said on the Judgment Day that people will actually be talking and rationalizing and seeking to bargain with God. But the Bible says, eventually, when people see that the standard of our judgment is not other people. It is the perfection of Jesus himself. Every mouth will be closed. Everyone will understand the truth that all of us have sinned and fAllen short of the glory of God. Look at verse 20. "Because by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight for through the law comes the knowledge of sin". Listen to me. Keeping God's law is impossible. You say, well, if God knew the law's impossible to keep, why did he give it? Listen to this verse again in the Phillips paraphrase. "No man can justify himself before God by a perfect performance of the law's demands, indeed it is the straight-edge of the law that shows us how crooked we are". That's why God gave the law, not that we could keep it, but the law is like a ruler that shows us how crooked morally we are.
"Pastor, this is the most depressing message I've ever heard. I mean, you're offering us no hope. Are you saying there is no hope for the human condition"? Oh no. I'm not saying that at all. What I'm saying is, it's true, there's nothing we can do to change our guilt before God. But there's everything God is willing to do, if we'll allow him to do it. See, we can't earn God's righteousness, but we can receive it as a gift. For those of you right now, who may be feeling despondent, discouraged about the condition of your heart, I want to offer this word of hope.
Many years ago, there was an instructor for the Arthur Murray school of dance. Do you all remember the Arthur Murray school of dance? I think there's still one here in Dallas. But anyway, there was a dance instructor who worked for Arthur Murray. And one Saturday night, a guy came back to his hotel room, he was drunk, fell into bed after a night of partying. And all of a sudden in the middle of the night, the clock radio went off in the room. The previous guest had said it and this guy didn't know it. So the clock radio goes off, this guy bolts up into bed and he hears a voice on radio. It's a radio preacher. And the preacher said this, if some great disaster were to befall you and you were to die and you stood before God and he were to ask you, why should I let you into heaven, what would you have to say to him? And this man sitting on the edge of his bed realized he didn't have anything to say to God. So he kept listening. And as he kept listening, he heard that radio preacher, Dr. Donald grey Barnhouse explains how a person could receive God's righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. And in those early morning hours of that Sunday, that man sitting on the edge of his bed prayed and received Christ as his Savior.
That Arthur Murray dance instructor was named D. James Kennedy. And of course, he went on to become the fame pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. He's the man who began that evangelism explosion program that has reached millions of people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that whole program is built around that question that he heard on the radio in that hotel room. "If you were to stand before God and he were to ask you, why should I let you into heaven, what would you say"? By the way, what would you say? What is your answer to that question? There's only one answer. The only reason any of us will be entered into heaven, entering into heaven is not because of our goodness, we have none of it. It's because we have received the righteousness of God through Christ that comes through faith.