Theme: Three Views of the Human Condition
From this week’s lessons we learn that Romans 3 can be considered the heart of the Bible because of the clear and comprehensive way it shows us the depth of our sin, and what the Lord Jesus Christ has done to save us from it.
Scripture: Romans 3
Somewhere in my library I have a pamphlet by Donald Grey Barnhouse entitled How to Mark Your Bible. This pamphlet contains suggestions for using Bible markings as an aid to Bible study, and it contains sample pages from a Bible Barnhouse used and marked thoroughly. I think of this now because at Romans 3:21 and following, Barnhouse had written the picture of a heart in the margin of his Bible. That was to remind him, as he came to this passage, that Romans 3:21-27 is the heart of the Word of God. In this respect Romans 3 compares favorably with Genesis 3. All the great doctrines of the faith are found in Genesis 3 in rudimentary form: original righteousness, the Fall, judgment, the promise of a redeemer, a response to that promise by faith, and finally a dramatization of justification by faith in his clothing of the man and the woman with the skin of animals. All of that in one chapter!
In the same way, we have this in Romans 3. We do not have quite the same scope of doctrines. There is no mention of an original righteousness. To the contrary, Romans 3 shows that we have no righteousness at all. It talks about our sin. However, it does talk about the work of God in Christ to save us from our sin, and it emphasizes the need for response to what God has done, namely, the response of faith, without which there is no salvation.
So far as I know, in the whole history of the human race there have only been three basic views of the spiritual condition of men and women. One is the view that they are well. The second is that they are sick. The third is that they are dead.
The idea that men and women are well is quite popular. This is the view of our modern world, of secularism. It says that everything is all right; and if things are not absolutely perfect, well, that is only a slight deviation from the norm. If things are all right, we do not need any help. We do not need a Savior. Above all, we do not need God. Unfortunately, like a wrong medical diagnosis, this view leads to all sorts of other problems; because if you do not recognize the problem, you are not going to seek a cure. This is the state of many people today. Things are very wrong with them, but they will not face the fact that they are wrong. So they are unwilling to seek the solution God provides.
The second view is that men and women are sick. It is a little closer to the truth, but it is not close enough. Unfortunately, it is the view of most Christians in the United States today. It says that we certainly need a physician. We are not well. We are “under the weather,” as it were. In some cases we may not be faring at all well. As a matter of fact, some would say that we are so sick that we are going to die eventually. But there is hope! We need a physician, and we have one in Christ. He can cure us. As I said, this view is closer to the truth, but it is not the full biblical picture.
In these verses Paul expounds the third view, saying that so far as our ability to find or please God is concerned, we are dead—just as dead spiritually as a corpse is dead physically. A corpse cannot do anything to help itself. It just lies there. And, spiritually speaking, that is what Paul says is true of us. We are unable to please God, choose God, seek God, or find God.
Why can Romans 3:21-27 be called the heart of the Bible?
What are the three basic views of one’s spiritual condition?
How would you describe each of them?