Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening sentence Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God. __________
A reading from Romans: Romans 3:9-20 (NLT)
Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous — not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good not a single one.”
“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace.”
“They have no fear of God at all.”
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
Reflection: Romans 3:9-20 (John Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World)
Paul appears to almost personify sin as a cruel tyrant who holds the human race imprisoned in guilt and under judgement. Sin is on top of us, weighs us down, and is a crushing burden.
Three features of this grim biblical picture stand out: 1. the ungodliness of sin; 2. the pervasiveness of sin; and 3. the universality of sin.
Luther: The principal point… of the law… is to make men not better but worse; that is to say, it shows them their sin, that they may be humbled, terrified, bruised, and broken, and by this means may be driven to seek grace, and so come to Christ.
It is an essential part of our dignity as human beings that, however much we may have been affected by negative influences, we are not helpless victims, but rather responsible for our conduct.
Two responses: 1. make certain that we have ourselves accepted this divine diagnosis of our condition as true, and that we have fled from the just judgement of God on our sins to the only refuge there is, namely Jesus Christ who died for our sins; 2. accept the challenge to share Christ with others. All around us are men and women who know enough of God’s glory and holiness to make their rejection of him inexcusable. They too, like us, stand condemned…. Only Christ can save them. Their mouth is closed in guilt; let our mouth be open in testimony!
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors. + In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen