Romans 1:16 – 3:31

When studying the plan of salvation, you really need to start with the condition of man. In order to hear the good news, you  must first know the bad news.

In the next section of Romans, Paul lays out the state that all of mankind is in. Man’s sinful state has separated him from God due to God’s justice, and His anger and utter repudiation of sin. (1:18)

Since Paul is primarily writing to Jewish Christians, he starts off with the easy sell that the Gentiles are condemned in sin.

It wasn’t hard to convince former Jews that Gentiles had sinned against God. Paul spends little time on the subject, but does touch on the point that often is asked; “What about those that have never heard?”

1:19-23 shows that at one time all had a chance to know God, and rejected Him. That even nature and the creation shows that God exists. By examining nature and ourselves we can come to several determinations. We can realize that there is a living God. To deny this is really just us trying to fool ourselves into thinking that we can live and do as we please regardless of the harm it may do to others or ourselves. After the realization of a living God, we can also determine that there is a standard law. Conscience itself speaks to this, along with logic. Finally we can determine that we are in violation of this law. We know that we have sinned, and we feel the pangs of conscience.

But these realizations leave one hopeless. How can we possible fix it? Observing nature, determining that there is a living God, that we are in conflict with Him over sin, and possibly even coming to the determination that He must love us and there must be a way to reconcile, but we are still utterly hopeless without the gospel. This should get us motivated for evangelism. 1 Cor. 1:12 and Romans 10:14 make this point as well.

As a side note, this does away with the idea of the Holy Spirit moving people to salvation. The Bible has one way to spread the gospel. That is through the word with preaching and teaching.

Paul points out in Romans 16:25-26 that the mystery is now made known to all nations. (Eph. 3:3-9)

In 1:26-31 Paul lists the sad condition of the Gentiles.

He starts his list with female and male homosexuality. He goes on to list all manner of general evilness. He ends the list in vs. 32 and points out that not only do the Gentiles practice these things, they take pleasure in those that do them. They enjoy watching others sin. This is a statement by Paul that condemns things like watching pornography, or any manner of other things that people do but say “I”m not sinning.”

Starting in 2:1 and following Paul turns his attention to the condition of Jews.

This is a much harder sell. Many Jews felt they were righteous under God simply because they were the seed of Abraham. In 2:6-29 Paul points out that one who condemns sin in others, yet commits them himself, is absolutely defenseless and without excuse.

Jews had placed their trust in circumcision and their relationship to Abraham. Jews were relying on God’s partiality but 2:11 shatters this. (Matt. 3:7-9; Matt 7:1-6)

Paul also starts to introduce one of the overriding themes of the book; obedient faith. 2:13-15 Later, Paul expands this to talk about lip service verses heart service.

Paul continues his argument, ending strongly in chapter 2 that the Jews also are condemned even though they are the seed of Abraham, for they had not been able to keep the law.

What advantage would it be to be a Jew then? Paul asks this very question in 3:1 and then answers it in 3:2. What was it that had been committed to them? They had been entrusted with the greatest gift ever given to mankind until Christ and the gospel; The Old Testament.

Even though many Jews were only Jewish outwardly, and broke the covenant with God, God is no covenant breaker.

3:9 ALL are under sin. Greater privileges and advantages had been given to the Jews because of their keeping of the oracles of God, and the faith of their fathers, but they had forfeited the privileges because of their sins. Many times in the Old Testament we see this pattern repeat. As a nation they would fall away and then go into captivity until they return to God and then the process repeated. God continued to preserve them however, partly in order to preserve the law. In verses 11-18 Paul offers up quotes that show the sinfulness of the Jewish people throughout history.

As the charts show, most people still have this concept today. They say to themselves “I am a good person, therefore I’m going to Heaven.” Paul is pointing out this false way of thinking. Just because they were Jews does not mean that they are justified. Just because we strive to be morally good people does not mean that we are justified.

 

How most people view salvation.
How most people view salvation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Paul tells us what our condition is.

How Paul tells us what our condition is.

 

Paul points out that God was under no obligation to save us. 3:3-4

God would remain righteous and condemn the whole world.

So, was there any advantage to being a Jew? Yes, they had been trusted with the greatest gift given to mankind up to that point. Is there any advantage to being a Christian? Yes, we are recipients of the greatest gift ever given to mankind.

It is not because Christians are better than other people. Through God’s grace we are better off than other people. We are not going to heaven because of our goodness, but because of God’s mercy. It is not justice we want, but mercy.

Yet today we here the argument “God won’t send me to hell.” or “I don’t believe that God would condemn people to hell.”

Yet, 2 Kings 19:35 an angel killed 185,000 men. In Gen. 19 God wiped out entire cities. Num. 21 – Fiery serpents. Judges 2:14 because they worshiped other gods. The whole Jewish nation was turned over to Assyria and Babylonia.

We do no procure salvation. People who believe that “good” people go to heaven  are really saying that you earn your way to heaven and that is not the case.

Finally in 3:27 Paul introduces us to the good news that in Christ we can find salvation.

We then enter into a discussion of faith and works.