The central problem of not only Romans 3:1-20, but everything we’ve covered so far in Romans can be described in two words found in v. 9 – that we are “Under Sin”
To be “under” something is to be in a position/condition that compels you, influences you in certain ways. “Under the influence of…something” is “impaired” and therefore “unable” to drive responsibly. But it also means to be “subject to”, to be “acted upon” and “constrained” – to be “under someone’s authority”. Sin is not just impairment and inability, but also slavery.
The witness of the Bible is that everyone is enslaved by and therefore, in a position of being influenced by sin to such an extent that no one is righteous before God on their own.
Paul strings along several passages, mostly from the Psalms, but one from Isaiah 59, that shows us what this slavery to sin compels us/influences us to do: “Turn away from” God with a “Runaway Heart”
“Seeks” – speaks to our aspirations and motivations. You seek out what you most want. And Psalm 14:1-3, quoted in Romans 3, says that “There is no one who seeks God…All have turned away.”
Sin warps our desires, because it infests our hearts. Remember, we are “worshipping creatures” (Romans 1), and if we are not worshipping the Creator, we are worshipping some aspect of His creation, and that is when “our foolish hearts are darkened” and our thinking/understanding/reasoning spirals downward in futility. When we worship something that has “eyes but cannot see”, we lose our ability to see, interpret, understand; when we worship something that has “ears but do not hear”, we lose our ability to discern what’s going on around us; when we worship something that has a heart of stone, our hearts become less responsible. We will resemble what we revere – what we most want, what we seek – and it will either be for our ruin (if not God) or our restoration (if God alone).
The righteousness we need is not one we can achieve by works of the Law, but only one we can receive by grace, through faith in the only One who perfectly lived up to the Law’s demands.
“The way the truth and the life” (John 14) comes to the wayward, the liars, and the destroyers.
Part of the sermon series Romans: Unlocking the Gospel | Unleashing the Power at Christ Church Mansfield, from Lead Pastor Chris Gensheer. For more content or to know more about the ministry of Christ Church, go to http://www.christchurchmansfield.com .