Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
No doubt we live in the “last days”. The Bible says that in the “last days” men will be lovers of themselves, prideful, arrogant, boastful; they will have no need of God, and will claim to be “good”, having a form of Godliness that is not genuine (2Tim 3.1-5). There is hardly a fact about mankind that could be more easily proven.
Very rarely will you find people, even those who claim to believe in God, who are frank and honest about their sinfulness, and their need for a Savior BECAUSE of sin. Most people believe themselves to be generally “good” in nature, and Christianity is primarily a way to become a “better” person or improve your life… instead of being the solution to wickedness and the resulting eternal condemnation.
Unbelievers typically (and mistakenly) think that deep down they are inherently “good”. We hear this constantly from politicians to educators; from entertainers to Madison Avenue. That’s understandable for unbelievers who have no Biblical knowledge. Surprisingly, while most Christians will make an academic concession about the “sinful nature” of mankind, when specifically asked, they typically stop short of understanding or admitting their own personal wickedness.
What loving God would send a good person to hell?
This prevailing idea of man’s “inherent goodness” is not without design, nor has it developed on accident. Do you not think Satan realizes that if a person believes they are basically “good”, they will have no real need of a Savior? After all, what loving God would send a “good” person to hell?
As Christians we should be prepared to respond to the “I’m a good person” declaration, whether the person proclaims Christ or not. Why? Because all too often a person claims “Christianity” simply because they go to church, was born in Christian family, or a host of other “good” reasons…. In today’s watered-down, market-driven church environment, we should never ASSUME a person’s salvation until it is confirmed by their Biblically accurate response.
That doesn’t mean we run around accusing everyone of not being truly saved who claims to be, but it does mean that we keep our spiritual antennas up and be discerning when speaking to someone about their salvation (or lack of it). There are multitudes of people that believe they are saved because of some “good” thing about them (“I go to church; I was baptized; my parents raised me in church; I try not to sin”, etc.). And there are multitudes more who simply believe that God will accept them into heaven because they are a “pretty good” person. The most common answer given by an unbeliever when asked about getting into heaven is “because I’m basically a good person”.
How “good” you are, depends on what
you are comparing yourself to.
“Good” compared to what? If you put a sheep out in the middle of a pasture, they look fluffy white. If you put that same sheep out in the fresh snow, they look filthy and dirty. So “good” depends on what you compare something to. If you compare yourself to other people, you probably look “fluffy white”. If you compare yourself to God, you will look filthy and dirty no matter how “good” you are.
For genuine Christians, we realize our “goodness” is as “filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isa 64.6) and that Jesus Christ is the only answer to make our filthy sin “fluffy white”. For the unbeliever, or the Christian-in-name-only, the typical defense is that they are a “good” person; and that is the basis upon which they casually believe that a “loving God would not send them to hell”.
The Law shuts every mouth who would
proclaim itself as “good”.
The Apostle Paul had a little something to say about anyone who thinks they are “good”. In the first three chapters of Romans, he makes the case that the Law of God reveals the sin in every person. In Romans 3.19 he tells us that the Law takes away all doubt concerning the sinfulness of man. In essence he is saying “the whole world can shutup about being ‘good’ because the Law proves you’re not!”.
The Law has it’s foundation in the Ten Commandments. So to teach someone that they are NOT “good”, and that they ARE sinful, and therefore NEED a Savior… you start by teaching them the Law. The Law is a “school master” (Gal 3.24) teaching us that we are full of sin which then in turn points us to Christ who is the solution to our “sin problem”. (this explains why Satan tries so hard to rid our nation of the Ten Commandments because they point people to Christ).
In Romans 2, Paul teaches us that no man has an excuse, because the law of God is available to all, either through general revelation (creation reveals God; and God’s divine law is instilled in man’s heart) or specific revelation (the Law of Moses). If you have ignored the law and don’t believe you have broken it, then you will naturally think you are “good”; and “good” people don’t need a Savior.
How do you use the Law as a “schoolmaster”? They best way to demonstrate is in a dialog sample. Imagine a Christian having the following conversation with someone; the true Christian is speaking first:
- So, you mentioned “church”, are you a Christian?
- Um, yeah, I guess; I mean I’ve gone to church off and on all my life.
- Yeah, going to church is always good. Would you say then that you are saved and will go to heaven when you die?
- I think so. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at a summer camp and was baptized a couple of years ago.
- Summer camps… boy, I had great time at those. So you accepted Jesus… why did you need to do that?
- Well I had always been taught how Jesus died for our sins and everyone else at camp was doing it.
- So did you know that you were a sinner?
- Yeah, I guess. I mean, I know I’ve done some stuff wrong in my life but basically I’m a pretty good person.
- So if you were to die right this moment, what reason would you give for God to allow you into heaven?
- Well… because I accepted Jesus and I have basically tried to be good person. I’ve done alot more good things than bad.
- So God should accept you based on the fact that you’ve been a pretty good person?
- Yeah, I think so.
- Did you realize that Bible says “there are none good; not even one; that all our goodness is like filthy stinking rags” and that “all men have turned from God and there is not one good person”. It even says that “there are none righteous; that all are deceitful and full of lies” and that there are “none that seek God”?
- Wow, really? Well I know I’m not Mother Theresa or anything, but I haven’t been as bad as that! In fact, I’m basically pretty good. There are alot of people alot worse than me.
- You’re right.. there are alot of bad people; but let me ask you… have you ever told a lie? Ever? Even one?
- Well sure, everyone has told at least one lie.
- What does that make you?
- C’mon, be honest. What does that make you?
- You’re trying to get me to admit I’m a liar; but I don’t tell lies all the time. I’ve only told a few.
- How many lies make a person liar? A thousand? A hundred? How many?
- Ummm… well, honestly, I guess you have to say “one”. I guess that makes me a liar.
- So you’re a liar. Now, let me ask you, have you ever lusted, even once?
- Sure, who hasn’t. Uh, oh great…. that’s makes me an adulterer doesn’t it, because that’s what Jesus said…
- Bingo. So you’re an adulterous liar. Have you ever wished you had the money or possessions that someone else has.
- Yeah, I guess I have. My friend has a much better job and salary than me, and I get jealous that I don’t make as much as he does.
- So you’re a covetous, adulterous liar. How about stealing and killing? Have you ever taken ANYTHING that wasn’t yours, cheated on your taxes or not done a hard day’s work for your paycheck? Have you ever hated anyone?
- Yes, guilty on both charges. Looking at it that way, I have stolen many times, and have “killed” several times with my hate too.
- So you’re a thieving, murderous, coveting, adulterous liar. I guess you’re starting to get the point, so let me ask you quickly about the remaining commandments: have you ever been disrespectful or disobedient to your parents? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain, or used it flippantly? Has anything ever been more important in your life than God? Have you ever failed to take time to honor God and worship Him?
- Guilty, guilty, guilty…… I never thought of it like that.
- So what do you think now about how “good” you are, comparing yourself to God’s Law?
- I’m not “good” at all. I’m a filthy stinking sinner. If I’m honest I would have to say that I’m a lying, covetous, adulterous, idolatrous, thieving, no good…..
- I know, I know… we all are without Jesus. We’ve all fallen short. And that’s the real reason we need Jesus; not simply because we’re “supposed” to, or because our life will be better. We need Jesus because we have violated God’s holy law; we’ve sinned and unless that sin is paid for in God’s eyes, we will have to pay for it….
At this point you now have a listener who is properly understanding the need for a Savior. A person cannot believe they need to be saved, if they don’t realize they have something they need to be saved FROM.
That is why the Law, the Ten Commandments, is a “schoolmaster”… it teaches us about sin, and exposes the sin in our life. And like a good teacher, it points us to a solution…. Jesus Christ. Paul tells us the that law will “stop” (shut up) every mouth from proclaiming “I am good” and plainly shows that all men are guilty before God.
Until this “guilt” is clearly understood by the lost soul, there can be know understanding about the true need to be “saved”.
Lord, Help us to lovingly present the Law and allow it to convict lost sinners and point them to Jesus. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Deep down, do you think you’re a good person? Have you ever measured yourself against the Law of God? On what basis did you come to Christ? Did you need to be saved FROM something (judgment; eternal condemnation)? Or were you saved so your life would “better”?
Application: In today’s growing dilution of the true Gospel message, it becomes more and more important that we present the Message clearly and Biblically. Yes, your life will be more blessed, more happy and more joyful after coming to Christ… but the primary reason for the Gospel message is to save people from the coming Judgment of God when He will rightfully pour out His wrath on those who have rejected Him by their sin, justly deserving eternal condemnation by their wickedness.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?