Four Roman NONES and One Cardinal Truth!
Romans 3:9-12, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
This teaching is an expansion of our last article and centers around this question: “If God is a good God and heaven is a good place, then won’t all good persons go there when they die?”
Almost everyone thinks he or she is a good person. In fact a recent George Barna Research poll revealed that 90% of Americans believe in heaven and yet only 30% believe in hell. What was most revealing was that many of those who believed that there was a place called hell felt like they were good enough persons to miss it and make it to heaven!
In our selected text in Romans 3:9-12, the Apostle Paul brings forth four huge “NONES” to reveal not how bad man is, but how bad off he is in regard to his status before Holy God: NONE Righteous; NONE that Understand; NONE that Seeks God; NONE Good! Then he allows this one cardinal (key) truth to shatter all illusions about man’s basic goodness: “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God!”
Although this message is very unpopular, and understandably so, yet it has the potential to be the most unfailingly hope-giving and life-producing truth ever to be known. Pay attention to these Four Roman NONES and this One Cardinal Truth because they describe a condition that is humanly impossible to fix and yet reveal the remedy that only the God of the Bible can provide, and has provided.
Everyone’s Condition by Nature is Far More Serious Than They Have Ever Understood!
Hear the Voice of the First Roman “NONE”:
- NONE RIGHTEOUS! – 3:10b — There is none righteous but God: Romans 1:17, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.”
What does it mean when we say God is righteous? God’s righteousness is a description of His character manifest in the way He acts. The opposite of righteousness is unrighteousness. This means that by nature all of us place value upon and enjoy what is not truly valuable or rewarding.
God’s standard of righteousness for men is the righteousness that He Himself possesses, which was manifest in Christ. The righteousness demanded of citizens of the kingdom of God cannot be attained by merit, but must be given by God. In other words, a person who is not as good as God is not acceptable to God.
Hear the voice of the second Roman “NONE”:
- NONE UNDERSTAND! – 3:11a, “…there is none that understand…”
The word “understand” literally means to put together in an orderly fashion and then mentally to comprehend. The idea is to put together “pieces of the puzzle” and to exhibit quick comprehension.
This does not mean that all who aren’t Christians are dumb or stupid, but that they are undiscerning as far as true spirituality is concerned. By nature people have some understanding of things earthly, material, civil, and moral; but then they have no understanding of things spiritual; no true spiritual knowledge of God; no true sense of themselves, their sin and misery; nor do they truly know the way of salvation by Christ. No man can understand these of himself, by the mere strength of reason, and light of nature – they are revealed by the Holy Spirit.
Hear the voice of the third Roman “NONE”:
- NONE SEEKS GOD! – 3:11b, “…none seeks after God;”
All religious efforts appear to be man seeking God, but in reality they are man running from God to take cover under some idol that has been put in the place of God. What men are actually seeking is benefits from God or the gods, and not a love relationship with Him.
All of the persons involved in false religion are seeking something other than God. They’re running from God to their own man-made system. The people who seek God, who truly seek God, do not seek God on their own initiative. If they seek the true God, it is because God has taken the initiative and given them a desire to do so. Jesus put it this way in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to me.”
Hear the voice of the fourth Roman “NONE”:
- NONE GOOD! – 3:12b, “…there is none that does good, no, not one.”
The word translated “good” means moral excellence (in character or demeanor); gentleness, goodness, kindness. This doesn’t mean that being good isn’t good – without question the world would be a much nicer place if everyone was basically good, kind and nice. But being good isn’t just not being bad. You can do nothing that the world deems morally bad, but still “do nothing” as far as doing what God commands you to do. The question is not am I a good person, but how good do I have to be to enjoy a right relationship with God and go to heaven when I die? How good is good enough?
In mathematics it doesn’t make any difference how close you come to the right answer, from one to a million or a zillion, there’s only one answer. If you don’t give the right answer you get a flat zero. God’s law is even more exact than the laws of mathematics. If you break one law, you have committed an eternal felony against an Eternal God and its payment takes an eternity for a finite creature.
Here is the One "Cardinal" Truth:
To be under sin means to be enslaved by its power, under its rule. Sin is not a very popular word. Once you bring sin into a conversation, you are relegated to the ultra-fundamentalist, right-wing, intolerant, fanatical “conservative Christian” category. You are seen as judgmental and incompatible with open-minded multiculturalism.
What is Sin?
There are several words the Bible uses to define sin:
Transgression: “Going against God and His revealed will”
Iniquity: “To twist out of shape, to distort”
Error: “Departure from that which is right”
Trespass: “Overstepping the boundaries of divine authority”
Sin: “Missing the mark, falling short”
Sin is taking a God-Given longing and going in a God-Absent direction! Ultimately, sin is always mismanagement of something good. It’s taking our God-implanted hunger and thirst to tables and fountains that can’t do the job they boast of. They’ll never satisfy us. “Sin, as Augustine said, is “energy in the wrong channel.”
What Sin Does
Biblically, the influence of sin has sent shock-waves through the entire universe (Romans 8:19-22). It has penetrated the total life of man, including his society and his culture.
Sin is the monumental rogue of history. Sin is the daring act of rebellion staged in the presence of God. Sin is deceiving. Sin dirties the reputation, debases the character and degrades a person's efficiency. Sin darkens the understanding, deadens the conscience, defiles the heart, and disorders every faculty of your being. Sin is deceptive. It is sweet to the taste but sour to the stomach. Sin produces mountains of grief, rivers of tears, oceans of guilt, and regret. Sin disfigures, deforms, decays, and finally destroys. Is it any wonder God has forbidden nothing to man but sin itself.
Sin will take you farther than you want to go.
It will keep you longer than you want to stay.
It will teach you more than you want to know.
It will cost you more than you want to pay.
But the greatest news ever to fall on human ears is that:
The God Who Knows Your Deepest Sins Loves You and Has Made ALL the Provisions Necessary for You to Live With Him Forever -- Beginning Right Now!
Romans 5:8, “… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It is the greatest of “good news” when we learn that a Righteous God and a ruined sinner can meet on a blood-sprinkled platform called the Cross of Christ so that the sinner’s criminal record is settled forever in such a way that glorifies Holy God, magnifies His love, satisfies His law, and justifies the sinner! We are all sinners and criminals in respect to God’s law for all have been arraigned by the four Roman NONES! But love has made a way where law can be honored and satisfied because Christ died for sinners!
The phrase “Christ has redeemed us” confirms that our salvation is not based on Divine amnesty but upon the principle of redemption, which means to deliver by paying the required price. Our salvation, which has opened a way for us to come confidently before God as He sits upon a throne of grace, does not rest upon the ruins of His throne of righteousness.
God the Judge offers a legal settlement of your case that will clear your criminal record acquired by your frequent breaking of God’s law. He will not only clear your record but confirm your full citizenship in Heaven with a valid passport that will open the gates of Glory. You can walk free from the condemnation of a criminal record. This act is called justification, which is God’s method of canceling our legal liability and conferring a legal status upon us. The Judge who paid our debt then places the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we stand righteous, complete, and forever secure, in Christ, before the throne. And here is the best part, the Judge will become your Father and move you from the courthouse to the Father's house where you will be no longer be an orphan, but a son in Father's Forever Family, as well as a partner in the Family Firm of Almighty and Sons -- Kingdom Enterprises Unlimited!
Although sin is like a burden too heavy for us to carry, yet because Christ is the sin-bearer, the burden can be removed;
Although sin is like a bondage from which we cannot free ourselves, yet because Christ is the Sovereign, the bondage can be broken;
Although sin is like dirt from which we cannot cleanse ourselves, yet because Christ is the Savior, the dirt can be cleansed;
Although sin is like a debt we owe God but can never pay, yet because Christ is the Surety the debt has been paid;
Although sin is like a disease from which we cannot find a cure, yet because Christ is the soul’s Physician, the disease can be cured.
May the Four Romans None and One Cardinal do their job in your life, if they haven't already done so. And their purpose is to show you your hopeless natural estate and then show you Christ as your only hope of ever being made right with God and enjoying eternal life. Embrace these NONES and the CARDINAL and they will introduce you to Christ as your Lord and Savior.