Depravity spells moral inability. Sin has so crippled man’s moral powers that he cannot perform anything that is truly spiritual and acceptable to God. — Ernest F. Kevan (d. 1965).
Saturday, April 30, 2011
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 3: 9 – 20
(9) 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; (10) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (13) Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: (14) Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: (15) Their feet are swift to shed blood: (16) Destruction and misery are in their ways: (17) And the way of peace have they not known: (18) There is no fear of God before their eyes. (19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Paul had already written of the guilt of both the Jews and the Gentiles in the first two chapters of the epistle. Now he addresses both together and proves from Scripture that all men are sinners and have no righteousness, yea, that by the deeds of the law no man can be justified. In this chapter the apostle gives clear, vivid proof from the very Old Testament Scriptures in which the Jews like to boast, that all men are Totally Depraved. This doctrine does not mean that all men are as corrupt as they can be in their conduct, conversation, and life. Nor does it mean that they have not in their natural state certain amiable qualities and even virtues, for we daily behold many who possess natural virtue to a high degree. This doctrine of Total Depravity sets forth the sinful condition of all men as the consequence of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. By said Fall their whole nature is corrupted in feeling, intellect, and will. This is the state of the fullness of sin in which the sinner lies and is expressed by the term Sinfulness. Also, this truth shows that each unrenewed heart is destitute of Divine Life, therefore of that Love of God which is the Source of all Good, and is made known in love to His Son, His Word, His people, and His ways. So by Total Depravity we mean that the natural man is full of sin and destitute of Godliness. The Synod of Dordt expressed the doctrine with these words; “All men are conceived in sin and born the children of wrath, unfit for all saving good, inclined to evil, dead in sins and the slaves of sin; and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit they neither are willing nor able to return to God, or to dispose themselves to the correction of it.”
Verse 9 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. The Holy Ghost has led His servant, the apostle Paul, to this conclusion of the necessity of Salvation by the grace of God as proclaimed in the Gospel. It has been proven from the fact that under the law of nature, and conscience, under the Law of Sinai, under any form of law, the whole world is guilty before God and apart from salvation by the grace of God there is universal condemnation. The apostle admits that the Jews were more highly privileged than Gentiles, but in reference to the great question of justification before God, the former were “in no wise better” than the latter. He had clearly proven, as stated before, that both Jews and Gentiles were all under sin. In the following verses the apostle, as God’s servant speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, describes the true spiritual nature of the fallen race. This is what men, left to themselves, unchanged by the Holy Ghost, are and ever have been. On the general principle that “whatsoever law says, it says to them who are under law,” God’s conclusion is given that “the whole world” — all mankind, have a verdict of “guilty before God” recorded against them.
The Jews did indeed excel the Gentiles as to some external benefits, of which we have a larger account of in chapter 9: 4-5, but not upon the account of evangelical righteousness, or their own supposed merit. They were “in no wise” superior or different for all are of the same, guilty lump of depraved corruption. In the verses which follow (10th, 11th, and 12th) the apostle cites certain passages from the Old Testament to prove that all mankind are all corrupt. Then he cites other passages that show that not only are all corrupt, but each one is wholly corrupt, as it were all over unclean, from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet (vs. 13, 14, & 15). Then, the next citing of verses shows that all are corrupt to a desperate degree (vs.16th, 17th, and 18th ); in which the exceeding degree of their corruption is shown, both by affirming and denying: by affirmatively expressing the most pernicious nature and tendency of their wickedness ( vs.16): And then by denying all good or godliness of them (vs.17 & 18).
All are under the power of sin, but chiefly under the guilt of sin (Rom. ), equally condemned before the Law of God (Psa. 14:1-3; Eccl. 7:20). But they are not only guilty; they are also in bondage to sin, “under sin.” God’s verdict is that all mankind is wicked in their first estate, wicked by nature. Men’s first estate is their native state, or the state they come into the world in. The apostle, having in the first chapter at verses 16 & 17 preached plainly, that none can be saved in any other way than through the righteous of Christ, by faith in Him, proceeds to prove this point, by showing particularly that all are in themselves wicked, and without any righteousness of their own. He represents all as without strength, or any sufficiency of their own in the affair of justification and redemption. The meaning of this is that man through the fruits and effects of the fall has completely lost the power of spiritual action, and that he is unable by means of any inherent power remaining in him to do that which is spiritually acceptable to God. The striking utterances of the New Testament, which declares that all sin is lawlessness, shows that man as a sinner — which is the position in which all men are in by nature — stands as a rebel under God’s holy Law, and seeing that he has thus separated himself from God, he is unable to restore himself in any possible way to that position which he was in before the fall. In other words, in respect to all matters of a spiritual nature, man is dead (Eph. 2:1).
Verse 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. The fundamental difference between man’s natural opinion of himself and God’s declarations concerning humanity is that sinful, blinded man begins with the false, outrageous premise that there is something good in himself that can be polished up a little and made perfect, while the perfect, pure Word of God begins with the truth that everything in man is evil and condemned, and all will spend eternity in Hell unless God takes from the corrupted mass of humanity an elect people to whom He gives a new heart, a new principle of holiness, by making them a partaker of the Divine nature through regenerating mercy and grace. In verses 10-18 Paul’s doctrine is confirmed by quotations from the Old Testament. The quotation in this verse is taken from Psa. 14:1 and 53:1. As sinners who have continually broken the Law, not being subject to it (Rom. 8:7), in thought, word and deed, we are utterly destitute of righteousness. As A. W. Pink says, “Righteousness is right doing, walking according to the Divine rule, namely, the Law of the Lord; and keeping His commandments is termed practical righteousness — righteousness wrought out in our practice. But since by nature ‘there is none righteous, no, not one,’ yea, not one person possesses a righteousness which can in any way meet the demands of our holy God; a miracle of grace must first take place within us.”
The absence of righteousness means the sinner is consumed by sin, and in desperate need. The Law cannot abate its demand: flawless, perfect, and continuous obedience. This verdict of God, “There is none righteous, no, not one,” sounds the doom of the most punctilious moralist, equally as it does the most abandoned profligate. Therefore, if ever rebellious, guilty criminals were to be saved, it could only be by Another assuming their responsibilities and satisfying the Law in their stead.
Our churches are filled with religious professors, having not experienced the power of truth of it in their own soul, who do not believe this doctrine. Multitudes of preachers do not preach it but the true prophet of God will ever put man in his proper place and tell him the truth. Just as Paul writes in this chapter the God-called preacher tells man that he is depraved, ruined, lost, and dead in trespasses and sins. He warns the sinner of his alienation from God, that his mind is enmity against Him, and that he is an inveterate rebel against Him. He proclaims this truth of not only the grossly wicked worldling, but equally so of those born in Christendom. In faithfulness to His Lord he makes it clear that man is a total wreck, that no part of his being has escaped the fearful consequences of his original revolt against his Maker: that his understanding is darkened, his affections corrupted, and his will enslaved. Due to the Fall in
man has become the slave of sin (Rom. ) and the captive of the Devil (2 Tim. ). He has no love for the true and living God, no; his heart is filled with hatred against Him (Psa. 81:15). Sinful man does not seek the Lord nor desire Him, but instead he endeavors to completely banish Him from his thoughts. How vile and wicked is man who is blind to God’s excellency, deaf to His voice, defiant of His authority and unconcerned for His glory. Eden
Verse 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Paul is quoting from Psalms 14:2 and 53:3 when he says “There is none that understandeth.” We also compare this with other Scriptures which speak of the corruption of the soul, and the faculties thereof; and first of the mind. Deut. 32:29; Job 32:9; Isa. 1:3; Jer. 4:22 and all speak of the ignorance and blindness of the mind. Foolish man thinks he is a wise and understanding creature, and it is true that he has the faculty to understand things natural, civil and moral — but even that is quite imperfectly. But man’s mind has been blinded by sin (Eph. ), he has no spiritual knowledge of God (1 Cor. ), and no true understanding of the way of salvation in Christ (John ). Sin has so blinded every individual that they cannot properly distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil. We have an example of this in Jonah concerning the Ninevites (Jonah ). Multitudes of modern church members cling to sin and make utterances like, “oh, it is just a little white lie,” or “I see no harm in it,” etc. They have no sense of guilt, which reveals a dead conscience, a blinded mind. Their attitude is, “how far can I go in sin and still be respectable?” They personally see no harm in these things for they know neither the true nature of our Holy God nor the nature of sin. The things that they do and the places they go reveal their utter blindness to the holiness and purity of the things of God. The unsaved religious world always wants to get away with all they can to satisfy their own desires, but the born again child of God cannot serve the Lord and live a loose life.
“There is none that seeketh after God,” nor has there ever been a single sinner upon this earth who took the initiative in seeking Him. Oh, the sinner ought to seek Him and salvation in and by Him, for the sinner is in a desperate state and condition. Our Lord commands “the wicked forsake his way” (Isa. 55:7) and to “seek ye the Lord while He may be found” (Isa. 55:6); but fallen man, the sinner in his natural state, never does and never will seek the Lord and His salvation. Sinful man has no genuine respect for God or His authority and no concern for His glory. Many entertain theoretical notions of the Divine existence, yet their hearts are devoid of any real affection to Him. That is the natural condition of all the fallen descendants of Adam; there is none with any practical sense of His excellence or His claims. The natural man has no desire for communion with God, for he finds his happiness in “his own way,” worldly pleasures, and sinful creatures. Man prefers everything before Christ, yea, he hates Him and in rebellion says, “We will not have this man reign over us” (Luke ). He loves his own pleasures, instead of the Redeemer; man’s wisdom being “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James ), and the celestial and Divine are outside his consideration. There are multitudes that seek after pleasure and wealth, but they do not seek after God. Many give lip service to Him, but there is none that seek after God earnestly, with the whole heart, in the Lord Jesus Christ. The natural man worships not Him in Spirit and truth nor communes with Him through the Mediator for His honor and glory (John -44). Man is lost and is not trying to find his way back to God for he does not want or desire Him.
The sinner seeks not God Himself but he does seek for what he thinks he can get from God. He even seeks for comfort regarding the security of his soul. As the late evangelist Rolfe Barnard used to say, “The sinner will make a profession, a decision, and then put Christ back up on the closet shelf along with his other gods while he continues to wallow in the mire of sin.” Especially when an alarming event occurs in the sinner’s life and he becomes concerned about dying, he will make a profession, promising God that he will do that which is right, and, then, when he thinks all is well again he will turn back to his idols. No man seeketh after the Lord but, thank God, the Lord Jesus Christ said that “He came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke ). The true saint confesses that he had not so much as a desire after Him; but by sovereign free grace “I (God) am found of them that sought me not” (Isa. 65:1). As believers are brought to love Him we do so because He first loved us (1 John ), likewise we did not become seekers after Christ until He first sought and effectually called us (Luke 15; John ; ). Christian reader, what caused you to “seek” the Lord? Ah, the truth is, you sought Him because He first sought you — just as truly as you love Him because He first loved you. It is His love that won our hearts. It is not the sheep that seeks the Shepherd; it is the Shepherd who seeks and finds the sheep (John ); and having sought the sheep, He creates in the heart of that sheep a desire after Himself, and then the sheep begins to seek Him.
Verse 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. They have all gone out of the way of truth, or life: see Psa. 14:3; 36:4; and 58:3. These quotes from the Psalms are speaking of what men are as they are the children of men, born of the corrupt race. The Apostle Paul cites the Psalm 14:3 passage here in Romans to prove the universal corruption of mankind; but yet later in the same chapter he supposes some of these same persons here spoken of as wicked, become righteous, through the imputed righteousness of Christ and the free grace of God. All men have gone out of the way of God and His truth (out of the way of holiness, truth and life) and into their own way of sin and evil (Isa. 53:6). We have seen in chapter one (vs. 19) of our epistle that the Gentiles knew the way by the light of conscience, and by the light from nature, the work of the Law being written in their hearts. In the second chapter (vs. 17-20) we saw that the Jews knew the way by the written Law which they possessed, but both the Gentiles and the Jews of their own will turned from God’s way to their own way of sin and corruption. It is of their own accord they will not come back to God’s way; they love the way of sin and hate God. THE WAY is CHRIST, but none can come to Him unless drawn by the cords of Divine love. (John 6:44; Jer. 31:3). How patient God is to guilty sinners. How longsuffering and patient with such a sinner as this writer to draw me and bring me to Christ.
“They are together become unprofitable;” un-useful and, which is more noisome, fit only for the dunghill, as the word signifies (Psa. 14:3; Job ). They are worthless, useless, corrupt and filthy. They are unfit for that for which God created them — to glorify Himself. There are but two things that God does with worthless humanity, that is, to cast them into Hell to the glory of His justice, or make them into new creatures to the glory of His grace (Rom 9:21-24). In God’s great and wonderful work of salvation He makes new creatures of those whom He chose in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-14).
“There is none that doeth good, no, not one” — in a spiritual way. We frequently hear the foolish folly of expression that a man, though he may be living a wicked, evil life, yet he has a good heart. But man has been so corrupted by sin that by it he can only do wrong, and by nature we not only do not that which is right, but we reject doing right (Gen. 6:5). There is nothing good-hearted about man by nature for “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). There is none good for sin and vile self are mixed with all that we do. We foolishly boast of our “good works” but our Lord says that “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). What a person does not make him what he is; what he is determines what he does. Our Lord Jesus said only a tree that was truly made good could bring forth good fruit: while a corrupt tree could only bring forth corrupt fruit (Matt. -18). Only a sinner, given a good and honest heart in the work of regeneration by the Holy Ghost, can bring forth that which is good. By nature the entire human race is not good, no, not one, yea, most vile and corrupt.
Verse 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips. Thus far from verse 9 to 12 our apostle has spoken in general terms regarding man’s sin and depravity. Here he deals with particulars — such as our words and actions. John Trapp stated, “It is easy to observe that St. Paul here, making the anatomy of a natural man, stands more on the organs of speaking than all other members, and showeth how his tongue is tipped with fraud, his lips tainted with venom, his mouth full of gall, his throat a gaping grave, his tongue as a rapier to run men through with, and his throat as a sepulcher to bury them in.” Paul mentions the organs of speech in four (counting that of the following verse) expressions: the first, “their throat is an open sepulcher” is taken from Psalms 5:9, in which God is giving His verdict on man’s mouth. Man’s speech comes from his throat and it proceeds from a dead, corrupt heart and nature. The open grave means death or deadly passions, that their word, their speech, their language, is deadly, poison. Oh, how men are willing to devour each other for selfish ends. Slick tongued men, and preachers, bring others under their dominion, which means to them death. How many are led away from God because of the flattery of others. As the opening of a grave reveals the death that is within, so the opening of the human sinful mouth reveals the death that is in the heart. The Lord Christ said this plainly when He spoke of the speech and actions coming from an evil heart: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. ).
“With their tongues they have used deceit;” plainly expressing the corruption of the tongue, because of lies, calumnies, perjuries, flatteries; and this is taken from Jer. 9:3-5. This is a statement that announces the sinners departure from and hatred of truth and his love and practice in lies, deceit, flattery, and hypocrisy. He uses words to convey death instead of life. We see this in the social order, the religious order, and the economic orders of life. Men wish to create a false idea in the mind of another to escape the reward of their own doings; or they wish to ensnare another to do their will; or they wish to enhance their own prestige by making themselves to appear such wonderful people; or wishes material gain for themselves. Preachers do this to build their own religious empire and those poor dopes that take their word at its face value are caught in the deception of damnation. Our Lord says that this is the common practice of the race (Psa. 12:2). The depraved tongue is used to form words of deceit, hatred, blasphemy, exaggeration and lies. Not only does man use words in deceit to gain his own ends, but he uses words to injure others. But the greatest hypocrite is one who comes with flattery while inwardly they are but wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. ).
The third expression, “The poison of asps is under their lips,” is taken from Psalms 140:3. Man’s corrupt heart produced a poison tongue that he uses to strike at others. It is ejected at others because of envy, because of jealously. It is used to corrupt others and it is with his tongue that the slanderer does his most deadly work. The Scripture warns that this venom of slander, gossip and blasphemy is a most fearful thing. God shows us that even those who are restrained by strong religious professions have all the seeds of all evil within. Sin has alienated man from God and the result there is no love of the natural man for God or our fellow-man. By nature we are all totally depraved, and as such possessed of a radically selfish, evil, malicious disposition. The record of human history consists largely of a solemn demonstration of that fact. Envies and enmities have marked the relationship of one nation to another, one party against another, and one individual against another. It is only the restraining hand of God which holds men within bounds and prevents the social sphere from becoming worse than the jungle. However there are times that restraining Hand is largely withdrawn and then, despite all our vaunted progress, human nature is seen in its naked savagery.
Verse 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. This fourth, last and very plain expression of the corruption of the tongue is taken from Psalms 10:7. Man is ever speaking not only shameful words, but in particularly blasphemy of God (1 Tim. 6:1). His mouth is brim-full of harsh words for God, superiors, parents, and all authority (Jude 8). Bitterness, murmuring and discomfort flow freely. “Cursing” denotes profanity and “bitterness” denotes hate, anger, strife, and always follows profanity. The one who is always using profanity manifests his fits of rage in bitterness and rage. Stand where many people are gathered or passing by, and you will hear much profanity, even the taking of our Lord’s Holy Name in vain. What shall be said of the vast throng of profanity users who pollute our language and wound our ears by a vile mixture of execrations and blasphemies in their common conversations? Utterly vain is their thoughtless plea that they mean no harm, vain is their excuse that all their companions do the same, vain their plea that it is merely to “let off steam” or relieve their feelings. strike against God and But though their companions do not censure, nor the police arrest, nor the human law system punish them, yet “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain” (Exo. 20:7). David said of the wicked “As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him . . . as he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water” (Psa. 109:17-18). The God of the Bible is dreadfully incensed by this evil sin, and in the common commission of this Heaven-insulting crime our country, yea, and our world, has incurred terrible guilt. A. W. Pink stated, “It has become almost impossible to walk the streets or to enter mixed company without hearing the sacred Name of God treated with blasphemous contempt. The novels of the day, the stage, and even radio (and more lately television, the cinema, and the press) are terrible offenders, and without doubt this is one of the fearful sins against Himself for which God is now pouring out His judgments upon us. Of old He said unto
, ‘Because of swearing (cursing) the land mourneth; the places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil’ (Jer. ). And He is still the same: ‘The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain.’ Sore punishment shall be his portion, if not in this life, then most assuredly so, eternally so, in the life to come.” Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James ), eternal death in the lake of fire. Israel
Verse 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood. These words are taken from Isa. 59:7 and Prov. 1:16. Those feet, created by God to bring glory to His Name, which should “run the way of thy commandments” (Psa. 119:32), are used by sinful men to conduct deeds of darkest crime. In the previous verses Paul has shown us man’s sinful words and now he turns to his actions. The feet represent motion and action; and when they are said to be swift to shed blood, it denotes the eagerness and readiness of evil men to sin against God, as well as one another. This phrase denotes terrible crime, with murder at the head of the list. Most sinners will argue that they have not taken human life; therefore, they are not guilty of God’s commandment against murder. In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord Jesus Christ disposed of such an argument by pointing out that in the sight of God, murder was not a matter of fact, but murder was the root of hatred in the heart of each individual (Matt. 5:21-22). And the Holy Ghost said through the apostle John “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” (1 John ). Guilt does not consist in the actual taking of a life, but in the movement toward envy or resentment which leads to hatred. The first time human blood was shed on this earth was when Cain, the first born baby, became a murderer and slew his brother Abel, the second born baby. Read the story in Genesis chapter 4 and you will find that the murder of Abel grew out of fury, rage, and wrath, and of angry words. The motive of the murder is clearly revealed in the New Testament as hatred at 1 John 3:11-13.
Murder is the outstanding sin of the human family. Nations have become murderers and have slaughtered other nations by the wholesale. This is just a manifestation of the depravity of the human heart. Murder and war are just symptoms. It is foolish to think that the fallen sons of Adam, who we all are, can change our natures. Even God has declared our hearts to be incurable, and He Himself will not attempt to change the wicked heart of man. Rather, in the saving of His elect, He takes away the old heart of stone and gives a new heart of flesh in its place because the old heart is INCURABLY wicked (Jer. 17:9). The highest form of murder is to commit deicide, when humanity murdered Christ, and there is a first degree murder charge filed in the courts of Heaven against every depraved son of Adam. Wicked mankind would murder Christ today if they could get their hands on Him.
We give the following valuable quote of A. W. Pink: “Those who are familiar with history know how many sad proofs it contains that human beings are more cruel than are the beasts of the jungle. Lions and tigers kill their prey in order to appease their hunger, but men destroy their fellows only to gratify their insatiable lusts of ambition and avarice. During the course of the centuries wild animals have killed thousands of mankind, but within the last few years literally millions have been destroyed by the restless wickedness of those who cared not what immeasurable suffering would result from the meeting of their greedy desires. We cannot sufficiently deplore the depravity of human nature which has made men beasts of prey, or rather devils to one another, seeking whom they may devour. The events of this ‘enlightened’ century only too plainly confirm the teaching of scripture on the thorough corruption of fallen human nature, that in their unregenerate condition men are ‘hateful, and hating one another’ (Titus 3:3). But let us not condemn the ferocity and wickedness of our fellows in any self-righteous spirit, but in the humbling realization that we too are clay of the same lump, and that if a spirit of benevolence now governs us, it is naught but sovereign grace which makes us to differ.”
Verse 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways. This is a quotation from Isaiah 59:7. The word Destruction expresses ruin by violence, crushing, breaking in pieces by concussion. The word misery means distress, affliction, and wretchedness, as a fruit of the violence spoken of in the previous verse. This destruction and misery, also speaks of ruin and wretchedness, and failure in life. Destruction sets forth punishment; misery sets forth remorse, torturing of conscience, and soul agony, and they all grow out of the sin of murder. All the ways men take and the methods they pursue make them miserable and lead to destruction (Prov. ). The way of sin always leads to destruction. Men “in their ways,” in their paths and courses, wherever they go they carry destruction and produce misery. They have everyone “turned to his own way” as they have made their own ways their desired course in life. They have set out in their own definite way and are determined to walk in their way, though it means ruin and wretchedness. The sinner, in his heart, has turned away from God, and he loves his own way upon which his heart is set. It is only when the saving work of God is experienced in the heart of a sinner that the way of the Lord becomes his desire and delight (Psa. 12:2).
“It is of the very nature of sin to work ruin, to scatter abroad destruction and misery, vs. 16. Like fire destroys everything on which it kindles. It has digged every grave. It is the parent of every sigh from earth, or groan from Hell. God will surely not let sin or sinners have their way always. He will surely, for His own glory, and the good of His saints, set bounds to lawlessness and to the lawless. Blessed be His Name for withholding man from compassing all the wickedness, to which his heart would incline him, and Satan seduce him” (William S. Plumer).
Verse 17 And the way of peace have they not known. By nature men do not know the way of peace with God in Christ. Christ is the only way of salvation, eternal life and everlasting peace and happiness. Only a man who is taught of God can know this (1 Cor. 2: 7-10). “The way of peace” is known only by a regenerated sinner who has surrendered to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is never at peace with any man, regardless of his religion or profession, when that man says of Christ in his heart and manner of living, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19: 14). They know and love their own ways as we saw in the last verse, but they have not known THE WAY of peace. CHRIST IS THE WAY. They have never had an inner experience or experimental knowledge of peace in Him. God is known as the “God of peace” which describes what He is, namely, the Giver of peace to His own, His elect. Before the foundation of the world God ordained there should be mutual peace between Himself and His elect people. As the immediate result of Christ’s mediatorial work peace was made with God and provided for His people. By nature they are utter strangers to it, just as is all of mankind. The Scripture declares, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa. 59:21). How could there be when they are engaged continually in active hostility against God? They are without peace in their conscience, in their minds, or in their hearts, for “the way of peace have they not known.”
Not only does this blindness of the natural man appear in his crass ignorance of God, but also with respect to himself. His mind is totally lacking in spiritual discernment. This is evident from the fact that the unregenerate are completely unaware of the awful darkness which rests upon their understandings. They actually think they are wise, when in the things of God they are glaring fools not knowing the way of peace. When such a sinner is really awakened by the Holy Ghost they are made aware of this. For their cry then is, “What must I do to be saved?” So blind is the natural man that he cannot discern aright of his own sins nor see the vileness of them: if he did, he would not continue wallowing in them as he does. They have not peace with others, because they don’t have peace within, and they don’t have peace within because they do not have experimental knowledge of the peace that Christ gives, for in the giving of peace, He gives Himself to the sinner for it is HE Himself that IS PEACE (John 14:27).
Verse 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. This final quotation from the O. T., taken from Psa. 36:1, gives us one true cause of all the aforesaid evils. The spiritual eyes given us when regenerated “see Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27), are overwhelmed by a reverential awe of Him with whom we have to do, and this gives us every joy and lifts our soul out of out of deep depression. But to all of this the natural man is a stranger. How graphic is this picture of human depravity, finding its way through each several organ of the body into the life; but the pool of origin of the “desperate wickedness” is within (Jer. 17:9) and “proceeded out of the heart of man (Mark 7:21-23; Psa. 19:12). By the “fear of God” is not meant a fear of Hell, damnation and the wrath of God, but a reverential awe, worship and affection, which leads to faith and obedience. The natural man has none of these graces within him for He has nothing but contempt for the living God, as shown by his treatment of the Lord Christ. The natural man is not an atheist in theory for they do not deny the very existence of God. However they live their lives, having each turned to their own way, without giving heed to Him and His Way. They say that they believe there is a God, but they choose to ignore Him. An atheist seeks to argue God out of existence while these people seek to ignore Him out of existence. With the atheist it is a matter of the head for they are blind, intellectual fools. In the case of our text, it is a heart matter. There is no fear of God before their eyes because the eyes of men were opened by Satan to the knowledge of good and evil, and they, in their fallen condition, love to feast upon the things of the world and all evil things.
The lack of this fear of God, or Godly reverence, is the source of all the sins that Paul has discussed in verses 10-17. The Bible says, “The fear (or reverence) of God is the beginning of wisdom’ (Prov. ). There is no thought of God that enters into the average heart in our day. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” They commit sin without any thought of God seeing them or knowing the lives they live. They have no consciousness of the presence of the Lord. They are their own god; they worship their own opinion and ideas. The fallen sinner has completely shut God out of his life, will not invite God into his life, and unless God steps in of His own sovereign will, and by His mercy and grace, and opens that sinners eyes and works a saving miracle in his heart by bringing him to Himself, there will never be godly fear in that heart.
At times in an individual’s life, if he confronts danger suddenly, and with any degree of consciousness feels as if he comes into the presence of the supernatural, he may begin to cry and weep, but just as soon as the danger is over, he immediately goes back to his old life, shuts God out of his life, and goes his own way, proving that there is no reverential fear of God in his heart. It is only under Holy Spirit conviction that God opens the sinner’s heart, and brings him into His presence and the fear of God falls upon him as “the fear of God fell upon the early church.”
This true Fear of God is a root, that is a fountain of life (Prov. 14:27) implanted at regeneration “as the plant the heavenly Father hath planted (Matt. 15:13), and it produces the tender fruits in the heart of a holy reverence of the Lord, and a dread of offending Him, because we love Him who first loved us (1 John 4: 19). There is a filial fear (of children to parents) and a slavish fear, and this latter is merely a fear of God’s deserved wrath produced by the workings of the natural conscience of man. (1) The Nature of true Godly fear is peculiar both intrinsically and in its effects. It is discriminating as a light (Prov. ) revealing the difference between flesh and spirit, right and wrong. In Bunyan’s Holy War it was Mr. Godly Fear who discovered the Diabolians lurking in the City of Man-soul. The fear of the Lord is a directory, showing the right path. (2) The Object of this grace is the Lord Himself. His Word is especially regarded with the loving reverence a child manifests to the expressed wishes of its Father, which the child fears to disobey or to be ignorant of. God Himself as revealed in His Word in the Trinity of Persons and Unity of Godhead is the Object of filial fear. (3) The Fruits are many, but they are all exercised in two ways: first, walking in Love; and, second, waiting in prayer. Here is the faith and patience of the saints (Rev. 13:10). This fruit is lasting and endures to the end. (4) The Fear of the Lord is tried, so that sometimes the saint wonders if it has not died out. Satan’s opposition to this grace is constant, full of hatred, and desiring to harm. Circumstances quite often seem to be against it; especially the beginning of troubles and afflictions. Then our Lord’s chastening hand, when the stroke descends, appears to crush it, but these exercises are only the means of its great increase.
Verse 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. The moral Law of God, as it appears in the whole Word of God, thus, all that is contained in the Scriptures, which every man is bound to observe and obey, Jew and Gentile, pronounces every son of Adam guilty and stops every mouth. It renders every one speechless, with no defense, no excuse, no alibi and nothing to reply: see Psa. 63:22; Ezek. 16:63; Matt. 22:12. Upon the general principle that “what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law,” Paul comes to the conclusion that “all the world,” “every mouth” of every Jew and Gentile — all mankind, must have a verdict of “guilty before God” recorded against them. Man, every man, thus is condemned and stands in need of justification before God (Rom 5:18a). Mankind has departed from God, is in conflict with His Holy Law, and is therefore is miserable (Rom. 8:7; 1 Cor. ).
What is the Law of God? In general, Law is the will of God concerning the nature, position and relationship, operation and movement and life of any creature (Rom. ). We must not think of Law as a code, as a rather arbitrary set of precepts, which one may obey or disregard without any necessary evil result. It is so with the law of man and you may violate that with impunity as long as there is no representative of the law present to arrest you. But the Law of God is the living will of God, of the immanent God, Who is present in all creation, and Who always maintains and executes His will, and deals with the creature accordingly. You cannot escape it. Remember that this Law is not a mere code of precepts. Its essence is not the two stone tablets which Moses brought down with him from the Mount. It is not the “ten words” of the Decalogue. These are merely the expression, the revelation of the contents of the Law of God. This Law is rather to be conceived as the living will of God, which is quite in harmony with the being and nature of man, God’s will concerning man’s will and life in relation to Himself and to all things; the Law which God always maintains and according to which He always blesses man if he moves within the sphere of that Law, and curses him when he transgresses (Prov. 28:7 & 9).
What is that Law of God? Our Lord Jesus Christ answers this in Matt. 22: 37-40. It is comparatively few who understand the Law. They have no proper conception of the essence and true nature of it. They think it is a code of many precepts, and that they can distinguish mechanically between “the great” commandment, as one of many, and less important precepts. In this they err, for if you want to discover the “great commandment,” you cannot apply the method of selection from a code; you must rather search for the root of the whole Law, for the essence of every precept, for that which touches not the external forms of life but the inner motives of the heart. Only if you do this is there, indeed, a “great commandment,” but then it is one that governs all other commandments of God, and from which all are derived. It is the commandment of the Love of God! Our Lord Christ said “LOVE THE LORD THY GOD!” Yes, indeed, that is the great commandment, beside which and apart from which there is none other. For the love of God is emphatically the love of GOD! To love Him means perfection for He is good. He is the implication of all infinite perfections. He is righteous and holy and true, merciful and just, gracious and faithful. He Himself is love, the bond of perfectness. And we must love Him! You must not make or conceive a god of your own imagination, that is like yourself, in order to love that idol. No, we must love the living God, Who is GOD indeed! We must learn humbly from Him Who He is and what He is, and love Him for His own sake, just because He is God and because He is good. We must love Him. Our whole life must be motivated by an intense desire to be in harmony with Him, our mind with His mind, our will with His will, our desires with His desires, our word with His Word, our deed with His deeds; to be pleasing to Him, so that He looks upon us in Divine favor and we taste His goodness; to seek and to find him, and to live in perfect fellowship of friendship with Him. Yes, this is the great commandment. From this all possible precepts must be derived. It is their root and it concerns the whole man. It is not satisfied with any outward performance or show of goodness in the spoken word or the visible act: it lays hold of the heart of man. It does not merely prescribe what man shall do or even what he shall think or what he shall contemplate, purpose or desire: it expresses what he shall be, that is, what he shall be from a spiritual, ethical viewpoint. For love is a matter of the heart, and the heart concerns the spiritual, ethical status of man’s whole nature. There is only one first and great (not greatest or greater) commandment, and that is: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God.” And Christ also declares that the second is “like the first,” for the second is rooted in the first, or, the second, requiring love of the neighbor, is also principally love of God! We must love the neighbor with the same love wherewith we love God! You love the neighbor only for God’s sake.
Remember that this love of God is the principle of all the commandments of God, and that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and with all our strength, i. e. all the time and in our whole life and in all its relationships. Yes it is that or nothing. You must keep them perfectly or not at all, and since no member of Adam’s fallen race can, all are guilty before God. When the apostle enforced the doctrine of human depravity, he proved it first by a lengthy description of the character, conduct and condition of the human heart of fallen man, and then by quotations from the Old Testament, concluded “we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” (verse 9). Whatever the Law says, it says to those under the Law. No matter whether the law of conscience, the law of nature, or the moral Law of Moses, those under the Law must be judged by the Law. That being so, the Holy Ghost sums up His verdict in the next verse thus: “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight.”
“So far from the Gentiles never having received the Law of God, the apostle to the Gentiles expressly declares, ‘Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.’ What could possibly be plainer? Even if the ‘every mouth’ did not signify all without exception, it must at the very least mean all without distinction, and therefore would include Jew and Gentile alike. But as though to remove any uncertainty, it is added, ‘all the world,’ that is, the entire number of the ungodly . . . The fundamental error of those men claiming to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ is their opposition to and repudiation of the Law of God: their insistence that it is solely Jewish, that the Gentiles were never under it, and that it is not now the believer’s rule of life. Never has the Devil succeeded in palming off for the truth a more soul-destroying lie than this. Where there is no exposition of the Moral Law and no pressing of its righteous demands, where there is no faithful turning of its holy and searching light upon the deceitful heart, there will be, there can be, no genuine conversions, for ‘by the law is the knowledge of sin’ (see next verse). It is by the Law alone we can learn the real nature of sin, the fearful extent of its ramifications, and the penalty passed upon it. The Law of God is hated by man — religious and irreligious alike — because it condemns him and demonstrates him to be in high revolt against its Giver” (A. W. Pink).
The Scripture is clear that there is no revelation of Christ in a sinner’s heart without previous condemnation by the Holy Law in Holy Ghost application. No sinner is ever brought to a saving knowledge of Christ until he is brought down at His feet as a beggar under a sense of sin. “I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal” (Deut. 32:39) says the God of salvation. The wounding and the killing always comes before the raising up of the sinner to realization of his new life in Christ. God’s Holy Law was never given with the intent to save, but to condemn the sinner, bring him in guilty before God (Gal. ), and show him it is impossible for him to save himself. All men are condemned for his evil heart by his fall in Adam which corrupted human nature. Fallen man is voluntarily an enemy to the infinitely glorious God and nothing can extenuate such vile hostility. The fact that we are all born traitors to God, with a corrupt nature, cannot cancel our obligations to give Him allegiance. That man’s nature is the direct consequence of our transgression in Adam (1 Cor. -22) does not in the slightest degree mitigate our own sins. It is a most solemn fact that each of us has approved Adam’s transgression by following his example and joining with him in rebellion against God. We continuously break the Divine Law of God and that demonstrates that we are justly condemned. The condemnation of all men is the inevitable consequence of a broken Law, which passes impartial judgment upon all transgressors. The purpose of the law is to make mankind plead “guilty” before God. Man is left without a word to utter in his own defense (Job. 40:4; Psa. 130:3; Dan. 9:7). The Gospel contemplates every descendant of Adam as a fallen, polluted, Hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope. All stand before God convicted as transgressors of His Holy Law, as guilty and condemned criminals; awaiting not sentence, but the execution of that sentence already passed on them (John 3:18).
The application of the Holy Law of God by the Holy Ghost to the conscience of the sinner produces definite affects, as nothing else can do. (1) It reveals the righteousness of God. The Law is the definite transcript of the righteousness God demands and requires (Rom. ). In its spirituality it is exceedingly broad, and the greater our acquaintance with it the more we see our need and helplessness. (2) It shows the depth of the Fall of man in the Garden of Eden, revealing the height of holiness from which we all fell, and the utter hopelessness of salvation in the Law in our present state (Acts 13: 38-39); and shows us our state of sinfulness and misery. (3) It imparts knowledge of sin. Only by the Law do we receive the knowledge of sin (vs. 20), for sin is the transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4). Thundering to us what we should BE and do, we learn the extent of our corrupt nature, as this rule is applied to our hearts and our case (Rom. ). (4) It reveals and pronounces the penalty of our sin. Without penalty there is no Law but mere advice. Law, in order to be effective, must be enforced by penalties for its breach. The Law is ever saying, “Obey and live, disobey and die,” “The wages of sin is death,” and “He that offendeth in one point is guilty of the whole” (Ezek. 18:4; Rom. ; James , 3:2). (5) The application of the Law to our hearts causes us to feel our helplessness under the power of sin which is increasingly felt as the Law, in its spirituality, is applied with increasing power. It commands, but gives no power to obey its commands, and condemns without hope of escape. It thunders its sentence, leaving the sinful criminal condemned to death, which is the state of all under the Holy Law of God. (6) It manifests the futility of all refuges of lies. The sinner is left in self despair. There is no way of salvation but that revealed in the Gospel; for which the poor sinner is prepared by the Law-work applied by the Holy Ghost.
The written Law as recorded in the book of Exodus was threefold: Moral, Civil and Ceremonial. (1) The moral Law was contained in the Decalogue or Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God on two tables of stone, the first of which contained laws concerning the duty of man towards God; and the second those showing his duty to his fellow man. Both these tables are summed up by the Lord Jesus Christ in the ordinance of Love, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. -40). And the apostle adds “Love is the fulfilling of the Law” (Rom. ). But no person since our fall in Adam ever did or ever can love either God or his neighbor (loving the neighbor grows out of loving God) as the Moral Law requires. (2) The Civil Law was the law of the state, by which the affairs of the Jewish nation were regulated, and according to which judgment was executed between man and man. It is characterized by Divine wisdom in all its parts; and its stipulations harmonized with
’s peculiar position, and their relationship to surrounding nations. Under it the settlement of each tribe was effected, and according to its directions all their secular affairs were conducted. (3) The Ceremonial Law was the law which regulated Israel ’s (the O. T. Church) worship with all its intricate and complicated observances. It occupies a large portion of the book of Exodus and almost the whole of Leviticus. The Ceremonial Law was instituted to teach the way of salvation in types and shadows. Israel
Before passing to the next verse we feel we must question both this writer and our reader on this most important work of the Holy Ghost in applying the Holy Law in its spirituality in His saving work in lost sinners. Whether we have been a vile profligate who knew our badness, but had no idea we were so bad; or, a religious Pharisee, who is brought to see and feel all our righteousnesses are but filthy rags, we all stand as guilty sinners in His sight. God never pardons a sinner until he pleads guilty, and signs his own death warrant, thus agreeing with God against himself (Luke 13:3). A person must really know that they are totally, utterly lost before he can wish to be found (Matt. ). Do we know this, having felt its pain and misery in our souls? When a sinner is truly awakened, humbled and broken before God, he realizes that he deserves to be damned for his vile rebellion against God, and he freely acknowledges that he is what he is voluntarily and not by compulsion. He realizes that he has no love for God, nor any desire to love Him. He admits that he is an enemy to Him in his very heart; that all his fair pretenses, promises, prayers and religious performances (even his striving for repentance and faith) were mere hypocrisy, arising from self love, guilty fears and mercenary hopes. He feels himself to be without excuse and owns that eternal judgment is his just due. When truly convicted of sin by the Holy Ghost, the sinner is driven out of all his false refuges and owns that his inability is a criminal one, that he is guilty. So I ask, dear reader, do you feel that you are a guilty sinner, that you deserve the Divine wrath of God? Do you groan and sigh on account of your sins, and fear that eternal punishment will be your portion? Why, so far from this being a mark against you, it is the first step into the liberty of the Gospel of free grace. Satan’s slaves do not, cannot feel these things, for they are bound, and have not liberty to feel them, or groan on account of them. You have liberty to feel that you need mercy, and to cry for that mercy to be manifested to you through Christ. You have liberty to feel that you are lost; liberty to mourn over your sins, and to sue for pardon; liberty to feel, as you think, that you are destitute of faith, and to cry, “Help my unbelief!” liberty to feel your heart is hard as stone, and to long for the Spirit’s softening (even a new heart) influences; liberty to feel that love is a precious grace, and to desire to love; liberty to fear that your prayers are a mockery, and that God will not hear you, while others never have a thought but that their prayers will be accepted; liberty to strive to enter in at the strait gate, for no man can or will strive in the right direction until the Spirit works in him; not only to feel what a depraved nature you have, but to cry, and to groan, and to strive to be delivered from it; and liberty to hate your sins; and this being so you shall in due time be brought into the full and glorious liberty of the Gospel of Christ, to feel that all your sins are forgiven.
Well do I remember the time when God, by His special mercy, enabled this sinner to see the spirituality and extent of His Holy Law. I was in my late teens (in 1959), having made a mere profession without substance as a very young lad and living life as both a vile profligate at times and a self righteous Pharisee at others — though in the Law we saw nothing but justice with a drawn sword, and mercy with a veiled face: yet it cut off all glorying in the flesh and stopped the mouth of pride and arrogance — and left this poor sinner under a sense of tremendous guilt, and subjected me to the righteous judgment of a Holy God. Ah! But when the sound of mercy came, how welcome it was! The proclamation of pure grace, how joyful! The precious name of my Lord, even Jesus Christ, precious beyond words. The way of salvation by Christ, how wonderfully acceptable. And, we where made desirous and willing to be eternally grateful and indebted to my Lord for His free grace. How dead and distasteful, even as dung, were all former legal hopes to me. Grace freely given and mercy richly bestowed through the Precious Lord Jesus Christ became the subject of all my hope and all my glorifying. What a glorious salvation hath the Lord Christ wrought in my heart! I, a poor sinner, stript of all, now bow to the sovereignty of the Blessed Trinity — adoring His electing love — admiring His so great salvation — sitting humbly at the feet of Christ, dwelling on the wonders of His love and sufferings on Calvary’s mount — do thankfully receive the testimony of Him, from the Holy Spirit — and give, the everlasting THREE, all glory, of what I am in time, and hope to be in eternity. Amen and amen!
Verse 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. “Therefore”, seeing the Gentiles, by the law of nature, and the Jews, by the written Law, are all subject to the judgment of God; and seeing no one is able to fulfill the Law, and satisfy for the breach of it; “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” “No flesh”, i. e. no man — a depraved nature (thus, all men) — can justify himself before God by a perfect performance of the Law’s demands — indeed it is the strait-edge of the Law that shows us how wicked we are. The text states that no man shall be declared righteous on the basis of any keeping of the Law, and further states that the purpose of the Law is to reveal to the sinner what his sinfulness really is. The Law was given to reveal the sin of man and the sin which disqualifies the sinner from all hope of being justified by his personal obedience to the Law of God also condemns him for his total inability to meet its righteous demands. But the objector says, “May not man, by his own exertions, be restored to the Divine favor, which he has lost? May he not be justified by ‘the deeds of the law?’ by obedience to the Law which he has violated?” The apostles states that the thing is demonstrably impossible —“By the law is the knowledge of sin.” The Law proves and pronounces man to be a sinner. How then can it acquit or justify him? The Law thunders that the sinner deserves punishment, how then could it say that he deserves a reward? “As many as are of the works of the law,” who seek justification by these works, “are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 2:19). The state of the sinner is utter moral helplessness. The Law does nothing — can do nothing — in reference to its violator, but condemn and curse him. Nothing can be more absurd than the suggestion that the Law should be to the sinner the instrument of justification. The apostle’s conclusion is that the Law cannot save, cannot justify, and cannot give us a true righteousness. It can only do three things: (1) shut our mouths and declare us guilty before God; (2) reveal to us the great depths and total darkness of our sin and depravity; and (3) shut us up to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:7-11).
On the words “be justified” we give the following great quote. “There is no salvation without justification, and there is no justification without righteousness, and there is no righteousness which will justify a sinner but that which is perfect and complete, such as the pure and holy eye of the great Jehovah approves and sees in it no flaw or defect. A man is said to be justified, you know, when he is acquitted and cleared of any crime that he has had laid against him; when a charge is brought against an individual and he proves himself clear from it, then he is justified. Now nothing can justify a sinner, unless he is thus clear from all charge and curse on account of sin. And without this, without his being justified, there is no salvation for him here or hereafter. But it is impossible that the righteousness of any sinner can prove a justifying righteousness to him, because the righteousness of the best of men is imperfect and polluted—such as will by no means answer his purpose, whether you view it as to its motive or as to its performance. There is nothing of his that will do, because there is sin in everything he does, and the great Jehovah expects and requires a perfect and complete righteousness in order to the justification of a sinner; he can accomplish nothing of the kind. But why do I insist upon this? Who is there here present (I was going to say) that is not convinced of this? And not only convinced of it, but you feel in your hearts that there is no such thing as your becoming righteous in the sight of God and your being justified before Him by any righteousness which you can possibly produce.
“You know well what is the rule of righteousness — the rule of right and wrong. And what is that? Why, it is the Law of God, alluded to in the preceding context; that Law which knows nothing whatever of failure, but requires (in order to meet this perfect and sure rule) that the righteousness should be complete — and that from first to last; the motive must be entirely without any flaw or defect, and so must the performance also. Now we say, you are well convinced of this, we trust. The Holy and Eternal Spirit teaches this to every one of the Lord’s beloved people, bringing them to see that they have nothing whatever of their own in which to confide — that if their salvation depended upon their doing anything, upon their turning a straw, in obedience to the will of God, there would be no hope of salvation for them. We say, you are well convinced of this; and may the Lord convince us more and more of it, because in proportion as He does we shall value that grand and suited and all-sufficient Remedy which He has provided for us” (Watts Wilkinson).
Our One Covenant Lord displays the glory of the Trinity in this precious doctrine of Justification; for this is the act of the Father, procured through the merits of the Son, and is made known by the sealing of the Holy Spirit in the redeemed sinner’s heart. (1) Justification is a Law term, being a legal and authoritative declaration of the Sovereign Judge, that the sinner is made righteous and free from all guilt. “It is God that justifieth” (Rom. ), thus none can condemn. (2) The Ground of Justification is the Precious Blood and Perfect Righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. His blood cleanses poor sinners, removing all the stain of sin; and His righteousness is imputed to the poor sinner, clothing the cleansed sinner and rendering him acceptable, seeing he is thus made perfect “in Christ” (1 John 1:7 & 2 Cor. 5:21). (3) The Nature of justification is that it consists in two things. First, Pardon by the cleansing Blood of the Saviour (Jer. 33:8 & Heb. -14). Second, Acceptance by the imputed Righteousness of Christ (Jer. 33:16 & Phil. 3:9). (4) The Process of Justification is instructive, because in the Lord Christ the Law is magnified and made honourable (Isa. 42:21). The Judge is God (Isa. 51:5; Rom. ). The Tribunal is the Throne (Isa. 30:18; Heb. 8:1). The Accusers are the Law (John ), Conscience (Rom. ), and Satan (Zech. 3:2). The Advocate is our Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1). The Charge is one which cannot be evaded; the poor sinner is guilty on all counts and he puts in his Plea of guilty, his mouth being entirely stopped (Rom. -20). There is no reason in the sinner, in himself, why he should not be condemned, but he pleads the Atonement of his Lord Jesus Christ. And in response to the Advocate there is no need for further defense. The sentence is one of acquittal. The sinner is cleared from the guilt of Sin, and from the penal consequences of sin through his Substitute’s Blood and Righteousness.
“For by the law is the knowledge of sin.” It convinces us of our sin and our guilt, and therefore is far from being our righteousness (Rom. 7:7; 1 Cor. ). A correct understanding of the true function of the Law is an essential element in the proper proclamation of the Gospel. The heart of the sinner must be deeply furrowed by the sharp plough of God’s Holy Law before he will truly see and feel the need for the Gospel. The doctrine of grace that Paul preached is firmly based on an adequate doctrine of sin, because he knew by his own experience that it was only the convicted, convinced sinner who seeks after an interest in the Saviour from sin. The proper use of the Law is to convince the sinner of his guilt before God, for no unawakened heart is able to appreciate Gospel grace. When a sinner is brought to realize what the high and holy demands of the Law really are, and how utterly he has failed to meet them, he begins to perceive something of the awfulness of his condition. Then the awakened sinner realizes how justly the Law condemns and curses him as an inveterate and excuseless transgressor of it. Then it is that he has a lively sense in his own soul of the dreadfulness of eternal damnation. Then he discovers that he is utterly lost, hopelessly lost so far as any self-help is concerned. Christ is the Saviour for those who are actually weighed down, realizing something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, who feel the awful burden of it on their conscience, who loathe themselves for it, who long to be freed from its guilt and terrible dominion; and HE is a Saviour for no others!
This work of the Holy Spirit in applying the Holy Law in power in the salvation of a sinner is so vital that we do not apologize for giving a summary thereof. The Lord calls His elect people by the powerful application of His Holy Law, by which they are made to feel the exceeding sinfulness and bitterness of sin. “By the law is the knowledge of sin,” because “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4); therefore, when the Law is brought home to the heart with its condemning, killing power, sin revives, and the convicted sinner dies to all self-help and hopes of gaining salvation by anything of self (Rom. 7:9). THISMUST BE EXPERIENCED IN SOME DEGREE IN
ALL WHO ARE SAVED. The Scripture is clear, we cannot be healed unless we are wounded, as our Saviour said (Matt. ), nor can we be saved in Him unless we are lost in ourselves. Our Lord wounds before He heals. He kills all the hopes of the sinner by the application of His Law, and He the newborn sinner aware of his new life in the powerful application of the Gospel. The first is necessary preparation for the second for “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal. ). When a poor sinner feels the awfulness of his state by nature as a sinner under the curse of a broken Law, and he is justly exposed to the wrath of God, there is created within him an intense desire to get rid of sin and the desire to flee from the wrath to come. But the more he strives against sin’s power; he sins and stumbles the more. Instead of getting rid of his sin, he does but feel that he adds to it as everything short of perfection seems to glare more vividly in him. The Holy Law helps him not; it exposes more and more every taint of sin. He proves by his deeds that he can never be justified, and neither does the Law reveal the way of escape from the Wrath of God against sin. By painful experience he sees and feels his own wicked heart while the Holy Law demands love (Rom. 13:10), but it worketh wrath (Rom. 4:15); while it demands perfect obedience (James 2:10), it manifests nothing but sin in the heart, which is disobedience (Rom. 5:20). The office of the Law is to reveal sin and self (the sin nature) to the sinner, and thus it drives the sinner to self-despair. The poor guilty sinner is brought to know and feel that he is lost, ruined, hopeless, and undone in himself. When brought to this state, the Lord Christ calls with another voice, “the voice of the Son of God.” The sinner is now delighted to hear the Gospel come to his heart in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance (1 Thes. 1:5).
The first doctrinal section of this great epistle, beginning at the 18th verse of the 1st chapter and ending here at the 20th verse of the 3rd chapter, the apostle proves the necessity of the Divine method of Justification, from the universal state of condemnation and moral helplessness of fallen man. Every person is a wretched sinner — that every person has violated God’s Law, and incurred its curse, and by total depravity become utterly unfit themselves for communion with God in holy happiness. Such is the universal condition of man, and it must remain his perpetual condition, but for “the righteousness of God” which is revealed in the Gospel (-17). Such is the original state of every child of Adam. Continuing in this state he is lost, utterly lost, lost for ever. There is no deliverance from this state but through “the righteousness of God;” there is no interest in the pardoning, justifying, sanctifying, saving influences of “this righteousness of God,” but by the God wrought faith of the truth in reference to it. It is under the new economy manifested to all, both Jew and Gentile, but it takes effect only upon “as many as the Lord our God shall call: (Acts ); those who truly believe. He that believeth is not condemned: he can never come into condemnation (
8:1). He that believeth not is condemned already, and if he continues in a state of unbelief, the wrath of God will continuously abide on him. It is an unspeakable mercy and privilege to have this “righteousness of God” revealed to us in His Word, but that privilege will produce only increased guilt, deeper punishment, if the truth revealed is not by the “faith of the Son of God” brought into the mind by the Holy Ghost in power and made influential over the heart. The righteousness of God in Christ secures the salvation of the soul. RCLVC. Rom.
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 3: 9-20
Verse 9. “Are we better than they? No, in nowise — for there is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:9, 22, 23). By the convincing power of the Spirit I find myself side by side with Lot — with a nature nowise different to that of David — with nothing to boast over the incestuous Corinthian (chap. 5), who was filthy yet washed, ensnared yet sanctified, convicted yet justified — my mouth is stopped. I am subject to the judgment of God, and my spirit is chastened with godly fear, while I have not a word of condemnation for a failing or fallen brother . . . Nothing but grace can keep us from the vilest sins. — Thomas Bradbury (1831-1905).
The total depravity of man in his fallen state, dead in sins, is another cardinal doctrine in the articles of the primitive
, and is taught by all the apostles and prophets. This article is expressed in language too clear to be misunderstood. — Elder Gregg M. Thompson (1811-?). church of Christ
Sin is moral leprosy. To put up with leprosy is to die of leprosy. Sin is spiritual cancer. A man who tries only to live with cancer, dies with it. If we do not deal with spiritual malignancy, then indeed it deals with us. — Vance Havner (1901-1986).
Depravity spells moral inability. Sin has so crippled man’s moral powers that he cannot perform anything that is truly spiritual and acceptable to God. — Ernest F. Kevan (d. 1965).
Depravity spells moral inability. Sin has so crippled man’s moral powers that he cannot perform anything that is truly spiritual and acceptable to God. — Ernest F. Kevan (d. 1965).
One reason why the Jews looked on themselves better than the Gentiles, and called themselves holy, and the Gentiles sinners, was that they had the Law of Moses. They made their boast of the Law. But the apostle shows them, that this was so far from making them better, that it condemned them, and was an occasion of their being sinners, in a higher degree, and more aggravated manner, and more effectually and dreadfully dead in, and by sin, Romans chapter 7:4-13, agreeable to those words of Christ, John 5:45. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
Verse 10. “None righteous, no, not one.” The man whose eyes are enlightened and to whom it is given to see the depravity of human nature, confesses, The more I converse with mankind, the more I perceive the Scriptures to be true, and that man is not a bit better than the Word of God represents him to be. —William Romaine (1714-1795).
When man in the Garden of Eden adopted the basic principle of evil — trying to make himself as God — man came to love the transgressions of God’s Law just for the love of it. — E. W. Johnson (1914-2001).
Dear reader, everything that Romans chapter three says about man’s depravity is the absolute truth! As he stands truly exposed to the searching eye of God, man is the exact opposite of what naturally he feigns to be. His heart is a den of every kind of evil beast, a heart destitute of the love of God and the love of neighbor; a selfish, ungodly, fallen nature has taken possession of the sons of Adam. They have no spark of divine goodness whereby they can grow and become the children of God. The more religious, the better Bible students, preachers or teachers, the more condemned and farther away from God! And we can see the only remedy is the sovereign, irresistible, invincible work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. “Ye must be born again,” says our Lord. There is no other way. And a man cannot have any part in this regeneration of the soul. If he touches it with his works, he defiles it and he ends up still deceived and far away from God. Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
None righteous, no, not one … none that understandeth … none that seeketh after God. TOTAL DEPRAVITY. We must start here. He who is right on this doctrine has a good start on knowing other doctrines. He who is wrong here is bound to be wrong on every other doctrine — Frank B. Beck (1917-1964).
Verse 11. Unless there be an almighty power to turn the course of nature, no man will ever come to Christ. A man may as well say he will make a clod of earth a shining star as say he can make the carnal and dead heart of man like the image of God. It must be the Spirit of God Himself that must do it; it is a work above nature. — John Preston, Puritan (1587-1628).
When Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit, he fled and hid himself from God. Why? Because he was naked; that is, he was alienated from the life of God, the due punishment of his disobedience. Now we are all by nature naked and void of God, as he was at that time, and consequently, till we are changed, and clothed upon by a Divine nature again, we must fly from God also. — George Whitefield (1714-1770).
He will do it, because He will. It is most blessed for us that He looks for no reason in our nature and conduct, why He should bless us more than others or others rather than us. Neither worthiness nor unworthiness is at all considered by Him, when He will bless sinners. The riches of His own grace, and the counsel of His own will, must have all the praise as such favor as this. But O! To feel as I do, from day to day, the restless, raging devilism of one’s own nature, always lusting or warring against the inner man, how these feelings war against faith; how hard and unreasonable a matter does believing appear to be, under these trials. Oftimes I feel nothing within but what bids me to doubt and utterly to despair. — T. Hardy.
It was not Adam who sought God, but God that sought Adam. And this has been the order ever since. “There is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. ). It was God who sought out and called Abram while he was an idolater. It was God who sought out Jacob at
when he was fleeing from the consequences of his wrong doing. It was God who sought out Moses while a fugitive in Midian. It was Christ who sought out the apostles whilst they were engaged in fishing, so that He could say, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.” It was Christ who, in His ineffable love, came to seek and to save that which was lost. It is the Shepherd who seeks the sheep, and not the sheep that seek the Shepherd. How true it is that “We love Him because He first loved us.” O, that we might appreciate more deeply the marvelous condescension of Deity in stooping so low as to care for and seek out such poor worms of the dust. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952). Bethel
Verse 12. When a Christian considers the goodness of God’s ways, he wonders that the world doth not walk in them. But when he considers the blindness, and depravity, and prejudice of the heart by nature, he wonders that any should. — William Mason (1719-1791).
If the possession of Heaven could be obtained by any one act of goodness, never to all eternity should I find it. — Robert Hawker (1753-1827).
The Holy Spirit teaches us in Scripture that our mind is smitten with so much blindness, that the affections of our heart are so depraved and perverted, that our whole nature is vitiated, that we can do nothing but sin until He forms a new will within us. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
The ultimate tragedy of man’s self-understanding is that he believes himself to be free, has all the feelings of a free agent, but does not realize that he is a slave to sin and serves the will of Satan. — Sinclair Ferguson (b. 1948).
Verse 13. Doctrinal error is as great an enemy to sanctification as vice itself. — J. H. Evans (1785-1849).
As no man can give himself faith, neither can he take away his unbelief. — Martin Luther (1483-1546).
Lies and false reports are among Satan’s choicest weapons. J. C. Ryle (1816-1900).
There are many Scriptural names for original sin, or the depravity of human nature, which serve to cast light upon it. The following list probably contains the most significant ones. Sin is called the plague of the heart (1 Kings ), foolishness bound up in the heart (Prov. ), “the stony heart” (Ezek. ), “the evil treasure” of the heart (Matt. ). It is designated “the poison of asps” (Rom. ), “the old man,” because it is derived from the first man and is part and parcel of us since the beginning of our own experience, and “the body of sin” (Rom. 6:6), for it is an assortment of evils, the “sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom. ). It is labeled “another law in my members” (Rom. ) because of its unvarying nature and power, “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2), “the carnal mind” which is “enmity against God” (
8:7). It is frequently spoken of as “the flesh” (Gal. ) because conveyed by natural generation, “the old man, which is corrupt” (Eph. ), “the sin which doth so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1), man’s “own lust” (James ), which inclines him to evil deeds. . . It should be quite plain from our definitions and descriptions of congenital sin that the human constitution is not merely negatively defective, but positively depraved. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952). Rom.
Man, by his fall, wounded his head and his heart; the wound in the head made him unstable in the truth, and that in his heart unsteadfast in his affections. — Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
Verse 14. Our words are the evidence of the state of our hearts as surely as the taste of the water is an evidence of the state of the spring. — J. C. Ryle (1816-1900).
I have never been afraid of going too far on two points of revealed truth. One of these points is the depraved, helpless, guilty and condemned condition of the sinner, in himself considered under the Law and under the curse. The other point is the superlative fullness, power, grace, truth and every Divine attribute and perfection of the eternal power and Godhead of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If He were not man, He could not have died for my sins. Nay, if He were not a holy, sinless and undefiled man in Himself, standing in an indissoluble, legal, vital union to His body, the church, our sins could not in justice or in Law have been laid on Him, nor His righteousness imputed to us. Hence His death could not have removed our sins and legally redeemed us from under the Law and its curse, nor would His righteousness justify us. — Wilson Thompson (1788-1866).
*Note: We do not like to place into print two of the words that are used in the following quote but we feel it to be necessary to warn all true believers of their usage and meaning so that any who are not knowledgeable may correct themselves (
LVC). “Everywhere the Name of God and of Christ Jesus is bandied about lightly in defiance of the commandment which says, “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exo. 20:7). And many a Christian, recoiling from the blunt use of these names, nevertheless uses the “Gee” which is short for Jesus, the “Gosh” which is euphemistic for God, and the other words of like origin which are known as minced oaths . . . The sentence ends with the fact that the mouths that are filled with cursing are also filled with bitterness. The heart gives forth its deceitful words, its lying words, its envious words, its profane words and, finally, it gives forth bitter words. And the bitter words run out of the mouth, the drooling spittle of the heart, and stain the face with sin so that the lines of the face form in bitterness, and it can readily be seen that the joy of the Lord is not a tenant in the house. Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James ). There will be no true music in the lake of fire. There will be no joy there. There will be bitterness continually, for it will be the full product of the human heart.” — Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960).
Unconverted men would kill God if they could get to Him. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
The seeds of every wickedness lie hidden in our hearts. They only need the convenient season to spring forth into a mischievous vitality. — J. C. Ryle (1816-1900).
Verse 15. God takes a safe course with His children: that they may not be condemned with the world, He permits the world to condemn them; that they may not love the world, the world hates them. — Richard Sibbes (1577-1635).
Men in nature have most strenuously assailed the doctrine of total, innate, inherent depravity, and have long devised and proclaimed their lying, deceptive and seductive argument against it; but God will make His people know the truthfulness of it by a daily experience of their own sinfulness. A vital knowledge of sin puts to flight every traditional theory of human ability or Adamic purity, and fastens upon the conscience a pungent conviction that man is a sinner, from the cradle to the grave, with no part or capacity reserved. It is not the Christian's burden that he only sins by word and deed, but his thoughts are unclean, and above all he discovers lurking like a serpent in the deep recesses of his heart the love of sinful things. This almost drives him to despair, and makes him hate his own life, and trust nothing but the blood and righteousness of the adorable Redeemer. — H. M. Curry.
Sin is a serious business to God, and it becomes serious business to us when we reflect upon the fact that every sin, regardless of how seemingly insignificant it appears to us, is an expression of contempt towards the sovereign authority of God. — Jerry Bridges.
When passion is on the throne reason is out of doors . . . When anger was in Cain’s heart, murder was not far off. — Matthew Henry (1662-1714).
The enmity of the natural man against God evidences itself in his practice. This dreadful hatred of God is not a passive thing, but an active principle. Sinners are involved in actual warfare against their Maker. They have enlisted under the banner of Satan and they deliberately oppose and defy the Lord. They scoff at His Word, disregard Hs precepts, flout His providences, “always resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts ), and turn a deaf ear to the pleas of His servants. Their hearts are fully set to do wickedness (Rom. -18). There is in every sinner a deeply rooted aversion for God, a seed of malice. While God leaves sinners alone, their malice may not be deeply revealed; but let them feel a little of His wrath upon them, and their hatred is swiftly manifest. The sinner’s enmity against God is unmixed with any love at all. The natural man is utterly devoid of the principle of love for God. As Jonathan Edwards solemnly expressed it, “The heart of the sinner is as devoid of love for God as a corpse is of vital heat.” As the Lord Jesus expressly declared, :I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you” (John ). And remember, that fearful indictment was made by One who could infallibly read the human heart. Moreover that indictment was passed on not the openly vicious and profane but on the strictest religionists of His day. Reader, you may have a mild temper, an amiable disposition, a reputation for kindness and generosity; but if you have never been born again you have no more real love in your heart for God than Judas had for the Saviour. What a frightful character — the unmitigated enemy of God. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Verse 16. To forsake Christ for the world is to leave a treasure for a trifle . . . eternity for a moment, reality for a shadow, all things for nothing. — William Jenkyn (1613-1685).
It is the tendency of the righteous to produce blessing, as it is the tendency of evil to produce misery. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
And though we are at the moment in a lull in our real labor difficulties, it does not take much of an eye to see that those who will shoot one labor leader to gain the union’s control and profit are not above stirring men and women to mass envy that could one day be the seed of bloodshed. For we are teaching many of our unskilled laborers that they have as much right to the same hourly wage as the skilled artisan, and men are learning to laugh at the Divine statement that he who will not work shall not eat. As much as Cain ever envied Abel, so the lazy and the unskilled today are being taught to envy the industrious and the skilled. — Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960).
This only can my fears control, And bid my sorrows fly; What harm can ever reach my soul — Beneath my Father’s eye. — Anne Steele (1716-1778).
Verse 17. I preach to show what must be wrought in you before you can speak peace to your heart. — George Whitefield (1714-1770).
Only the Bible tells us the meaning of this disaster which has happened to man. Original disobedience has plunged him into present ruin. The spiritual nature of man can only live by communion with his God, but all history attests that there has been catastrophic interruption. There is none righteous, quotes the great apostle Paul. There is no one who understands or seeks after God. The entire race is adrift from its moorings and, with the controls off, our modern society is plunging headlong into vicious practices; violence and lawlessness are sweeping the face of the earth. — Charles D. Alexander (1904-1991).
The way of peace have they not known. Nature is so corrupted as not to understand its own depravation. — John Owen (1616-1683)
The theme of salvation should be one that concerns us more than any other one subject. We are sinners of Adam's fallen race and sin cannot enter Heaven; therefore, in order for us to be carried to dwell forever in the bosom of the Saviour in that blessed house of endless felicity, we must be saved from sin. The reason that man cannot save himself is that he is dead. The Scriptures teach that the sinner is "dead" -- he is depraved and his whole being is contaminated with sin. His element is sin. He loves sin and drinketh it down as the ox drinketh water. "He loves darkness rather than light, because his deeds are evil." It is natural for him to seek darkness, when following his own depraved will. Naturally depraved men have no ability to come to Christ and perform good works. The dead tree can produce green leaves and fruit as easily as the dead sinner can produce spiritual fruit. The Ethiopian can change his skin or the leopard his spots as easily as a dead sinner can make a Christian of himself. "Who then can be saved?" It is impossible for man to save himself or for one or more men to save another man. "Salvation is of the Lord." — Lee Hanks (1861-1947).
Verse 18. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and they that lack the beginning have neither middle nor end. — John Bunyan (1628-1688).
But what is this fear of the Lord? It is that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s Law. — Charles Bridges (1794-1869).
They that fear God least have the greatest reason to fear Him. Fear of departing from God is a good means to keep us from departing . . . The more we fear God the less we shall fear man. — William Mason (1719-1791).
Saving discoveries do not elevate and puff up with pride, but impress the soul with holy dread. The sweet pleasure and joy that attend the discovery are tempered with holy fear and awe, insomuch that men fear the Lord and His goodness, and rejoice with trembling. The place where God manifests Himself is both a joyful and dreadful place (Gen. 28:17). — Ralph Erskine (1685-1752).
Verse 19. Now the Scripture teaches that “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20b and compare 7:7), and therefore you will need to preach the Law before you preach the Gospel — as the Old Testament precedes the New! — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
We cannot either see our need of, or set a proper value upon; much less shall embrace the mercies of Christ, until the Spirit of light has shown us to ourselves. — Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778).
I think I have found that no discourses have been more remarkably blessed than those in which the doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty with regard to the salvation of sinners, and His just liberty, with regard to answering the prayers, or succeeding the pains of mere natural men, continuing such, have been insisted on. I never found so much immediate saving fruit, in any measure, of any discourses I have offered to my congregation, as some from those words, Rom. 3:19, “That every mouth may be stopped;” endeavoring to show from thence that it would be just with God forever to reject and cast off mere natural men. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
We do well to make sure that we know and show something of what the Law really is. It has been described as a transcript of God’s nature. It is a detailed picture of what God would be and do in our circumstances. It is a description of what man would have been and done if sin had not come to pervert and destroy us. It is the standard to which we must attain in all our feeling, thinking, speaking, acting and wishing, if we are to please God. It sets forth His demands about our relationship and attitudes toward God, toward our fellowmen, toward ourselves, our assets, our time, our desires, our bodies, our minds and our souls. THE LAW OF GOD CANNOT BE CHANGED OR DESTROYED. It is as unchangeable as God is and must remain as long as God lives. It was the standard set for the Lord Jesus, when He came to live and die as our Representative. He bore the full penalty that it decreed against each of our (the elects) sins and all our sinfulness and He measured up to its every detail in establishing credit for us by His righteousness. — J. R. Boyd (1909-1994).
All the world may become guilty before God. The race is not now on trial. The case has been ‘called’ and heard, and a judgment of sin and condemnation has been entered. Its religious status is res ajudicata. We are all, infants and adults, prisoners under sentence awaiting the fateful day of execution. This is but saying, in the figures of the earthly courthouse, that ours is a fallen race, and that all its members were involved, somehow, in the moral catastrophe. It is, therefore, utterly fallacious and untrue to fact, to describe the race’s destiny as a problem to be solved by ‘volition, act, habit, character, etc.’ — R. A. Webb (d. 1907).
Verse 20. A man knows something of what sin is by the light of nature; but only as sin is viewed and measured in the light of the authority, the spirituality, the strictness of the Divine Law, does he obtain a full and adequate knowledge of the sinfulness of sin. Thus something more than a bare, fragmentary inchoate acquaintance with God was here prayed for — a full knowledge of Him. Not a perfect knowledge but a firsthand, well-rounded, intimate, and thorough knowledge of His person, His character, His perfections, especially as He is revealed in and by Christ. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
A sinner can just as well make an atonement to God for his sins, as he can fulfill the Law of God for his justification; both are equally alike impossible. — William Mason (1719-1791).
Suppose a loving and beloved husband dies a violent death. Can his wife love, and admire, and value the sword, or the pistol, by which her husband lost his life? As little can true believers love sin; for by it, Christ, the Bridegroom of their souls, was put to death. — Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778).
We are certain that no Heaven-sent revival will come until there is a faithful preaching of the Law, by which is “the knowledge of sin” (Rom. ), and a stronger emphasis laid upon the indispensable need for repentance. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
This righteousness is of faith in the sense that it is wholly that which we receive by faith and not that which we merit in our works. It is not without works, but the ground of our trust is not our works but the works of Him who wrought redemption at
Calvary. Paul proves both Gentile and Jew to be utterly without legal merit before God in Rom. 1:18-3:20). — E. W. Johnson (1914-2001).