A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
"Whose feet are swift to shed blood." What a picture this draws of the condition of our time. It is true of the world - nations: quick, not in peace, but quick in war. Our feet are swift to do violence right now, and sad to say, the same sort of spirit exists in the churches themselves.
"Destruction and misery" are at issue. Wherever man walks, there are destruction and misery! You only have to read history to find that out, or follow the telecasts of the day.
"The way of peace they have not known." Capitalize "Way" and "Peace," for He is our Peace and He is our Way, but He is unknown to the vast majority in the world.
No Fear of God
"There is no fear of God before their eyes." Solomon says in the book of Proverbs that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Perhaps the source of all other sins is found in this last indictment: "There is no fear of God before their eyes!" Without increasing mental confusion, and moral and spiritual darkness.
That is an awful picture of the human race! There are three general divisions in this list of indictments: 1. Man is depraved in character (vv. 10-12); 2. Man is depraved in his speech (vv. 13-14); 3. Man is depraved in conduct, "his feet," his ways (vv.15-18).
That is remarkable, isn't it - that God should make a diagnosis like that? Character is what a man is. Speech is what a man says. Conduct is what he does. In all that man is, in all that he says, in all that he does, there is the taint of depravity and sin. That is the meaning of total depravity. God's Word teaches that each area of human life has been corrupted. Paul is not saying that there are not differences in degree among men concerning moral failures, but as far as the man's character, and his speech, and his conduct are concerned, everyone without exception has been touched by sin.
Perhaps some of you may say, "Is that my picture? Have I been guilty of all these things?" Yes, it is. It is your picture and mine - apart from Jesus Christ. We are herein described apart from Jesus Christ. God is not describing what we do as much as what we are. "The poison of asps is under their lips." You may never have poisoned anybody, but the poison is there. "Mouth full of cursing." You may say, "I have never taken an oath upon my lips," but it is there, and if you had been born in some families and trained like some people, it probably would have come forth. If you have never taken an oath upon your lips, it is by the grace of God. You have nothing to boast of.
There are only two things that God says we have without exception done: "They have all turned aside"; "They have used deceit." He does not say we have actually sinned in all these points. He is saying we are not righteous and thus the others are potential sins.
It would seem as though all these Scriptures piled one upon another would be sufficient to prov that every man is a sinner, but Paul knew his countrymen well. Paul had been a Pharisee once, and he knew the Pharisaical mind would listen to all these quotations from the Jewish Scriptures, say, "Amen" to every one of them, and then calmly pass them over to the Gentiles. That is human. We listen and say, "That means Jones - not me." Paul knew is countrymen would do this very thing, so he says in verse 19, "They that are under the law." He is not going to let the Jew escape. Does the law just speak to the Jew, not to the Gentile? There are some people that say that is true, but look back at the ninth and tenth verses. Just Jews? No, everybody!
Paul knows that when he gets through, the Jew will need an extra reminder that all this applies to him too. So Paul says, "No listen. All these things may apply to the Gentiles, but this law that I am talking about (the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Prophets) speaks first to them that are under the law - to Jews! You can't escape!"
That ends the indictment.
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 31 - "The Defense")