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Lesson 3: All Have Sinned *

Introduction: We left off last week in the midst of confusion! Paul told us in Romans 2:13 that "those who obey the law ... will be declared righteous." Then Paul quickly added in Romans 3:12 "there is no one who does good, not even one." Are we all lost? Are we doomed by our nature? Whatever happened to the idea of the inherent goodness of humans? Can we live a good life? Let's dive into Romans and see if we can follow Paul's line of reasoning and continue our exploration of God's plan for our salvation!

  1. The Judgment Problem


    1. Recall that in Romans 1:18 we learned that God was angry with those who suppressed the truth by their wickedness? We learned next that those wicked people had no excuse for their behavior because, Romans 1:20, nature alerted them to the existence of God. Finally, we looked sadly in Romans 1:24-32 at the terrible sins that resulted from rejecting God. Paul concluded ( Romans 1:32) that those people deserved death. Do you agree that wicked people are without an excuse?


    2. Read Romans 1:32. Do you approve of the sins listed in Romans 1:24-32?


      1. Did you know that there is a push today to get the public to approve of homosexuality - a sin Paul specifically describes in Romans 1:26-27?


      2. Do we have an obligation to publically pass judgment on the sin of homosexuality and the other sins listed in Romans 1:24-32?


    3. Read Romans 2:1. This is embarrassing! Is there a typographical error here? Was this mistranslated? I am not a homosexual! I don't hate God and I'm not a murderer! Why can't I pass judgment on those people who are so grossly out of step with God's law? (Paul let us fall into a trap. We have been nodding our heads in agreement that these are pretty terrible sins, deserving death, and we should pass judgment on them. Then Paul says "you are just like them!")


      1. How are we just like them if we do not do those terrible sins? Or, are we in trouble only if we "pass judgment" on those sinners? Must I keep my mouth shut about the sin of homosexuality? How about being quiet about murder? What about abortion? Can't I condemn those who openly hate God?


        1. Didn't Paul "pass judgment" on those sinners when he said they ( Romans 1:32) deserve death? I say those sins are wrong, but I'm not someone who runs around saying that these sinners should die!


    4. Read Romans 2:2-4. Let's see if we can dissect these verses. Is it true and just that such sins deserve death? (God's judgment is true.)


      1. So, what is the problem with speaking the truth? (The problem is that I am a "mere man" who is sinful. God is not sinful, so God can pass judgment. But, I do not have the status of God, I have the status of a sinner. I am not entitled to pass judgment on those sins.)


        1. Just because I am a sinner, does not mean that I cannot correctly identify sin, right? (The truth is that as a sinner, I deserve death just as much as any other sinner. If I suggest that you deserve death for your sins, and I do not, then I'm not being truthful.)


        2. How are we supposed to preach the gospel if we cannot call sin by its right name?


          1. Re-read Romans 2:4. What approach does God take towards us when it comes to our sins? (God is rich in kindness, tolerance and patience. These sinners are just like us. We all have the opportunity to repent because of the kindness of God. Thus, the gospel message is that we should repent and take advantage of God's kindness.)


          2. How can you tell someone to repent if you cannot pass judgment on their sin? (We must learn the difference between calling sin by its right name and passing judgment on other sinners.)


          3. Romans 1:32 teaches us that both the sin and the approval of the sin are wrong. Both passing judgment on sin and approving of sin are wrong. How should we draw the line between passing judgment and approving of sin?


  2. The Sin Problem


    1. Okay. God tells me that I must be careful about how I call other people to repentance. I cannot be judgmental. That does not change the fact that I am basically a good person, right? At least I'm better than some of those gross sinners, and I just need to be careful about how I talk about the differences between us. Agree?


      1. Would I be right to say the real problem area is if I am a hypocrite. For example, if I condemn adultery when I'm committing adultery? Or, condemn homosexuality if I'm a homosexual?


    2. Read Romans 2:5. Who deserves God's wrath?


      1. Is Paul saying that you and I deserve God's wrath? I repent of sins all the time. Why am I thrown in the same "wrath bag" as all of those gross sinners? Or is it just the hypocrites that deserve wrath? (Paul seems to cast a pretty wide net with his condemnation.)


      2. If we believe that we are better than those "gross" sinners, are we are showing that we are "stubborn" and have an "unrepentant heart?"


    3. Read Romans 2:6-10. Now we are on the right track! Some people do what is right and some people do what is wrong. The people who do right get saved and those who do wrong suffer "wrath and fury." Does this show that you and I are, after all, not like those gross sinners - as long as we avoid being hypocrites?


    4. Let's move down to Romans chapter 3. Read Romans 3:10-18. Is this you? Or, is Paul writing about someone else?


    5. Read Romans 3:19-20. What must we all admit? (Just like those sinners described above, we have nothing to brag about. Romans 3:19 says "every mouth" will be silenced. Every mouth includes yours and mine. We have been bouncing back and forth in this lesson on the issue of whether we are better than others - those "others" with gross sins. But, this text tells us that our mouths must be silent on the topic of being better. As sinners, we are all accountable to God - and we cannot pass the test through our works.)


      1. How important is it to admit we are sinners - like those who do the most vile stuff? (This is just like every addiction problem. The road to recovery is to admit we have a problem. Sin is sin, and we are all sinners. We have no hope of salvation based on the law. We only deserve death - just like those other evil people. We learn to our horror, that we are just like them.)


    6. Friend, are you willing to admit your sin problem? Are you willing to put away your pride of feeling that you are better than those gross sinners? The question is, "what can we do about this?" We take that up next week.


  3. Next week: Justified by Faith.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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