All Are Guilty Before God, Romans 3:9-20

“Get it? Got it? Good!” If the apostle Paul were alive today he might use this blunt lingo with his emphatic questions to the Jewish congregation. For sure, he wasn’t afraid to use repetition as a tool to drill into his reader’s comprehension. This theme wasn’t easy to understand and accept by God’s chosen Jews.

Paul’s “Courtroom Scene”

This passage models a courtroom scene. Shepherd’s Notes identifies the nuts and bolts in the following caption.

The Accusation    (vs. 9)         "Jews and Gentiles alike are under sin." The Evidence     (vs. 10-18)    "There is no one righteous, not even one; . . . There is no fear of God before their eyes." The Setting           (vs. 19)       "Every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." The Verdict           (vs. 20)       "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the Law; rather, through                                                     the Law we became conscious of sin."

The Accusation (vs. 9): “Jews and Gentiles alike are under sin.”
The Evidence (vs. 10-18): “There is no one righteous, not even one; . . . There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The Setting (vs. 19): “Every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.”
The Verdict (vs. 20): “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the Law; rather, through
the Law we became conscious of sin.”

Paul hammers his point: The Jews who were under the Law were neither better off nor disadvantaged. Both Jew and Gentile stand equally guilty before God.

Paul weaves several Old Testament passages together in verses 10-17 to create a seamless support for verse 18, his weightiest rebuke: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

So What?

Knowledge abounds in our information age, but wisdom is rare. Proverbs 1:7 (NLT) says, “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” To fear the Lord is to revere, respect, and honor Him. This plumb line of acknowledging and trusting God should gauge our attitudes, principles, and actions.

In respect to God’s Law, its purpose is to guide our conduct. God never intended for the Law to save us through our best efforts and/or goodness. It’s easy to get caught up in a performance mode. I know, I’ve been there. How about you? Are you trying to earn or gain God’s acceptance?

Abraham Justified by Faith, Romans 4:1-8

This chapter builds on the previous one: “man is justified by faith apart from observing the Law”. Justification is God’s act of declaring us “not guilty” for our sins.

In this section, Paul offers proof that faith—not works—was God’s plan in the Old Testament. Abraham, the founder of the Jewish nation, was a prime Old Testament model of justification by faith. When Abraham was 75, God revealed that He would bless and multiply Abraham’s offspring through a son. Even though Abraham was childless and didn’t know how God would bring about His plan, he placed his confidence in God. Paul cites Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

In verse 4 Paul reasons that if a person could earn right standing with God by being good then the giving of that gift would be an obligation instead of a free act. Paul also reminds us of King David’s joyous discovery of forgiveness of sins in Romans 4:7-8.

www.pinterest.comSo What?

Like Abraham, we can also have a right relationship with God by trusting Him. God desires dependence, faith, and trust—not faith in our ability—to please Him. Jesus Christ is stronger than our feelings and/or actions. He is  able to completely save those who reach out to accept His generous gift of salvation, even when our faith is small. Justification marks the entry point of our relationship with God in salvation when we place our faith/trust in His Son, Jesus Christ.

How do we get rid of guilt from our sin? The NIV Study Bible suggests: 1) quit denying our guilt and recognize our sin, 2) admit our guilt to God and ask for His forgiveness, and 3) let go of our guilt and believe that God has forgiven us.

In view of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, is any sin too big for Him to cover?

What is the Law? (Romans 6:15)

Shall we sin because we are no longer under Law but under grace?”  Romans 6:15

Again, Paul answers: “By no means!”



Wait . . . Rewind . . . Repeat that again? We (believers) are not under the Law . . . .? I admit, this sounds more like a riddle, especially when you look at passages like Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”

It helps to know that this section deals with sanctification: God growing the Christian in holiness. But the question remains . . . .

Which Law is Paul referring to?

The following excerpt from the NIV Study Bible helped me sift through this confusing topic:

Part of the Jewish Law included those laws found in the Old Testament. When Paul says that Gentiles (non-Jews) are no longer bound by these laws, he is not saying that the Old Testament laws do not apply to us today. He is saying certain types of laws may not apply to us. In the Old Testament there were three categories of laws:

  1. Ceremonial Law: This kind of law relates specifically to Israel’s worship (see, for example, Leviticus 1:1-13), its primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ. Therefore, these laws were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. While we are no longer bound by ceremonial laws, the principles behind them—to worship and love a holy God—still apply. The Jewish Christians often accused the Gentile Christians of violating the ceremonial law.
  2. Civil Law: This type of law dictated Israel’s daily living (see Deuteronomy 24:10-11). Because modern society and culture are so radically different, some of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. But the principles behind the commands should guide our conduct. At times, Paul asked Gentile Christians to follow some of these laws, not because they had to, but in order to promote unity.
  3. Moral Law: This sort of law is the direct command of God—for example, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). It requires strict obedience. It reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies to us today. We are to obey this moral law not to obtain salvation, but to live in ways pleasing to God.

Which Law do you think Paul is referring to in Romans 6:15?

And What About Grace?

Another analogy found in the NIV Study Bible helped clarify Romans 5:20, “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“As a sinner separated from God, you see his law from below, as a ladder to be climbed to get to God. Perhaps you have repeatedly tried to climb it, only to fall to the ground every time you have advanced on one or two rungs. Or perhaps the sheer height of the ladder seems so overwhelming that you have never even started up. In either case, what relief you should feel to see Jesus offering with open arms to lift you above the ladder of the law, to take you directly to God! Once Jesus lifts you into God’s presence, you are free to obey—out of love, not necessity, and through God’s power, not your own. You know that if you stumble, you will not fall back to the ground. Instead you will be caught and held in Christ’s loving arms.”

I hope this makes sense. Although I’m not an intellect like Paul, his teachings challenge me (in a good way).

I hope you’re enjoying summer!



The B-i-b-l-e

Thank you to everyone who participated in my poll last week, posted under Back to the Basics. I asked: What do you believe about the Bible? At last check, a whopping 100% of you agreed that the Bible is God’s inspired Word to us.

I don’t want to preach to the choir, but want to follow through with my theme from last week.


The B-i-b-l-e, yes that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God.

I hope the following summary might be useful to you or someone you know.

What’s so unique about the Bible?

  • Through sixty-six separate books, 1,189 chapters, the Bible is divinely orchestrated and inspired by God—a claim the Bible makes for itself (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:2).
  • Although God’s Word was composed by 40 different authors in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) over a span of 1,500 years on three different continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), it is a unit from beginning to end.
  • The Bible shares one extraordinary message: God loves you.
  • The Bible proves God is intimately involved and concerned about people. His unconditional love is shown in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. His sacrifice for sin allows anyone to be in a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus’ work.

Interesting Facts

(Source: Study Bible Apologetics for Students, Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission)

  • Hundreds of biblical prophecies have been fulfilled (e.g., Isaiah 13; Daniel 2; Luke 21:5-6).
  • The Bible has been confirmed as being historically, archaeologically, and geographically accurate.
  • The Old Testament is 99% accurate when compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls dating from 200 B.C.
  • The New Testament is 99% accurate when compared to more than 5,600 partial and complete NT manuscripts dating from the first three centuries A.D.

80844cdbbb4f82927197b3b167c6afdbDo you regularly read God’s Word, the Bible?

Coming next . . . . “Why Study the Bible?”


Nothing beats a cup of cold water on a hot summer day.81abe43416489ac66371805e106cd390

Just as our bodies hunger and thirst for physical food and water, our souls hunger and thirst for spiritual food and water.

One of my favorite Bible stories is Jesus talking to the woman at the well (John 4:1-26). No respectable Jewish man would be caught talking to one like her. For she was a despised Samaritan woman, a member of the mixed race that the Jews hated. She was also known to be living in sin.

I love that Jesus crossed all barriers to share the good news of the gospel with her.3b369e614d01db8539a984f32a156ac4

In the heat of the day, Jesus stopped by the well where she was drawing water. He said to her:

Will you give me a drink?”  – John 4:7

Surprised, the Samaritan woman said:

You are Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” – v. 9

Jesus answered:

If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water . . . whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  – vs. 10, 13-1456c8bd70bcf235d876ca31a292cb3b51

What did Jesus mean by “living water”? Several Old Testament verses speak about thirsting for God as one thirsts for water (Psalm 42:1; Isaiah 55:1; Jeremiah 2:13; Zechariah 13:1).

God is called the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9) and the spring of water (Jeremiah 17:13). Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah by forever quenching a person’s thirst for God (John 4:25-26). Only the Messiah can give this gift that satisfies the soul’s desire.

Are you spiritually thirsty? There is only One who can forever quench your thirst. His name is Jesus.