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Thu, Aug 25, 2011

31 - Total Depravity [b]

Romans 3:9-13 by Robert Dean
Series:Romans (2010)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 32 secs

Total Depravity
Romans 3:9–13
Romans Lesson #031
August 25, 2011

Romans 3:9 NASB “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin.” The Jews were in a privileged position because God gave them an unconditional, irreversible covenant through Abraham. God was going to bless them, give them the land, and then through them He was going to reveal the Scriptures and they would be the custodians of the Scriptures. There were many other ways the Jewish people were blessed by God and they had information and revelation that was not available to the rest of mankind. But through them it would become available to all mankind, which is why God told Abraham: “Through you all nations will be blessed.” So though they had a privileged position it wasn’t a position that gave them privilege in terms of being justified, it did not make them more righteous.

Starting at this point the apostle Paul began to go to various Scriptures in order to emphasize his point that this is exactly the testimony of what the Torah is. Romans 3:10 NASB “as it is written, ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; [11] THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; [12] ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.’” The clause “there is none who seeks for God” is not an absolute stating that there is no such thing as positive volition and that no one can seek God whatsoever. The Scriptures clearly attest to the fact that man can seek God.

One question comes up at this point, especially if there has been influence from Calvinistic teaching. Remember the basic teachings of salvation in Calvinism are summarized in the acronym TULIP. T = total inability, which in high Calvinism means man can’t do anything. He can’t even exercise positive volition; U = unconditional election. That means that God chooses people without any condition. (Question: Just because a condition isn’t expressed in Scripture doesn’t mean there is no condition. Condition can be the fact that God chooses people on the basis of faith alone in Christ alone. In His omniscience He always knows who that will be) In strict Calvinism this is purely arbitrary; He just chooses some for heaven and the rest are passed over; L = limited atonement. Since God only chose X number of people to be saved Christ only died for those; the rest are just out of luck. I = irresistible grace. This is taught as meaning that since under total inability you can’t do anything to get saved, can’t exercise positive volition, and under unconditional election you are part of the elect or you are not, that means that those who are chosen can’t do anything to even express a desire to know God, then God has to reach out and draw them to Himself—and they can’t resist it; they will have to yield. That is called irresistible grace.

The main text that people go to is John 6:44 NASB “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” This relates to seeking. The high Calvinist position is that you can’t even seek unless God first is drawing you, and then that drawing is irresistible. But in John 6:44 there is clearly a promise of assurance that if you come to Christ He will raise you up at the last day. That is resurrection. But what is this first statement, “unless the father draws him, no one can come to Him”? How does the Father draw him? What the Calvinist people do is con people because they just go to John 6:44 and ignore verse 45 which tells you how God draws you. John 6:45 NASB “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” There is no mention of the Holy Spirit anywhere in here. It doesn’t say God the Holy Spirit is going to reach down and irresistibly pull you into the lifeboat of salvation. John says, “it is written in the prophets.” So he is going to show and apply a passage from Isaiah: “‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” To understand verse 44 we have to start with the end of verse 45. How do we learn from the Father? Contextually, they shall be taught by the Father. How are they taught by the Father? Isaiah 54:13 NASB “All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great.” It is a teaching of the Scripture. It is the proclamation of the Word of God that is what draws people. So in John 6:45 the principle is laid down that everyone is taught by God. There may be an intermediary teaching the Word but ultimately it is God who teaches us; and so anyone who has heard and learned Scripture is hearing and learning Scripture from the Father, and they hear the message and come to Him. It is through the Word of God that the Spirit of God draws us to the Father and to Christ. So it is not something that is apart from Scripture and it is not something that is done apart from human volition.

“ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE,” Romans 3:12. Who is it that has turned aside? This is a quote from Psalm 14, so it is the fool who says there is no God. This is just a poetic way of talking about suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. They have together become unprofitable, useless. How did they become unprofitable? Because they have rejected God. Paul’s conclusion, also from Psalm 14: “THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” This word for “good” is the Greek word CHRESTOTES. There are other words the Greek uses for “good” but this is a word that has already been used by the apostle Paul and the previous use was in Romans 2:4. There Paul talked about the attributes and the character of God. Remember the ultimate reference point in Romans for anything is the character of God. Romans 2:4 NASB “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Goodness there is CHRESTOTES, so CHRESTOTES is an attribute of God. We don’t normally conclude that in our list of the attributes of God. God’s goodness sort of combines elements of His righteousness, His mercy and His love into the concept of goodness. So none one does good. That doesn’t mean we don’t do relative good. Jesus told His disciples: “You being evil know how to give good gifts to your children.” That kind of goodness is only relative; it doesn’t measure up to the qualitative intrinsic goodness of God. No human being is able to perform at the level of the goodness of God.

From verse 12 we go into another chain of references that quote from different passages in the Old Testament. When dealing with Old Testament quotations in the New Testament the writers of Scripture are usually quoting from the Bible that had the greatest use in the ancient world, the Septuagint [LXX], so when Paul quotes from the Old Testament he is not using a Hebrew text. The reason that some of the quotations are different from the Old Testament is because they are quoting from the LXX. That raises another question that people have and that is if the LXX mistranslated the text of the original Hebrew, which is inspired? Only the Hebrew was inspired by God but if it is a mistranslation it may not be stating something false, it is just not accurately translating what was there in the original. So God the Holy Spirit still uses it and incorporates those verses under the process of inspiration into the New Testament. At that point it becomes inspired and inerrant truth because God the Holy Spirit has given it the stamp of approval. That is not to say He approves the translation but that what is stated is accurate and without error.

Romans 3:13 NASB “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING…” This quote comes from Psalm 5:9. Psalm five is a lament psalm where the author is in an extremely difficult set of circumstances; they are under adversity. Many times they are under attack from their enemies. There are people who are always against you, especially if you think of yourself as a Christian within the context of what the Bible describes as a warfare—cosmic warfare between the forces of the fallen angels against God and the elect angels. We are in this unseen spiritual warfare that is going on around us and within that context we can expect opposition. The great thing about it is that the Bible reveals this to us and the Psalms teach us how to pray in the midst of adversity. What these psalms tell us is that we need to stop thinking about the adversity and the circumstances and start thinking about the God who is over the circumstances, the God who is able to control the circumstances and is able to give us aid and strength in the midst of those circumstances. In Psalm 5 David is under verbal assault from people who truly do wish him harm and wish to destroy him. We don’t know what the circumstances were. Many times in our life we fell like we are in the same kind of situation. We are under assault, under attack, and our circumstances overwhelm us. So these lament psalms have a tremendous amount of meaning for us. We need to read these and to think of them in terms of our own circumstances.

Notice the methodology. The first three verses are typical in a lament psalm: an address to God and an appeal to God to listen. Psalm 5:1 NASB “Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my groaning [meditation]. [2] Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, For to You I pray.” In other words, recognize my prayer. And he recognizes he is not dictating to God, he is expressing his orientation to God’s authority. He is appealing to God on the basis of the fact that He is God, the King of Israel, and this is a statement of David’s allegiance to God. [3] “Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, For to You I pray.” This was a morning prayer. There were morning prayers and evening prayers at the tabernacle.

Then starting in verse four we have a focus on God and His attributes. Notice the order and think about this in terms of your own prayer life. Focus on God. God is in charge; I’m not. And there is an appeal to God to solve our problem. That doesn’t mean that God is going to take the problem away. Sometimes the problem stays but God fortifies us, He gives us the strength, the resources to handle the problem. That comes from the focus of verses 4-7.

Psalm 5:4 NASB “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You.” So in this section he is not only going to focus on God’s attributes but he is also going to give a rationale, a sort of laying the foundation for a rationale for his appeal to God to give him aid. Notice the synonyms he uses here to describe sin: wickedness and evil. This is the point that Paul has been making. If you have a righteous God He can’t have fellowship, any kind of relationship with something that is evil. Evil is not defined in Scripture as being as bad as we can be. The essence of evil in Scripture is not defined by the specifics of what is done, it is defined in terms of rejecting the authority of God. That is what makes evil evil. A lot of good things are done in rebellion against God and God says they are evil.

Psalm 5:5 NASB “The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.” We have these words like love and hate for God in contexts like this; they are not words that talk about emotion. These are idioms that are used to express acceptance and rejection. God is not sitting up in heaven exercising personal hatred for people. God is righteous; personal hatred doesn’t fit with righteousness.

Psalm 5:6 NASB “You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.” So we have a whole series of sinful acts here that define the person who is hostile to God. Ultimately in David’s thinking you are either submissive to God—which comes under the category of being righteous—or you are hostile to God and are wicked, boastful, evil, etc.

Psalm 5:7 NASB “But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” He expresses his own position. David is not saying he is coming into God’s house because he is righteous. The word there for “temple” is the Hebrew word hekal which is also used, for example, in 1 Samuel 1:9; 3:3 to refer to the house of God. It is the tabernacle. Hekal is the word that is normally used for the temple, but the temple is not built until Solomon and David writes this long before the temple is built, so this is a reference to the tabernacle. We come into God’s presence not on the basis of who and what we are—that is being boastful, arrogant—we come into God’s presence because we know that there is nothing we can do that is going to give us credit with God. So how do we get the kind of righteousness that God can have a relationship with? This is what Abraham did: Genesis 15:6. Abraham believed God and it was credited/imputed to him as righteousness. How do we get the kind of righteousness we need to come into God’s presence? By trusting in the promise of God to provide us salvation. After Jesus came that is focused on Jesus Christ.

Psalm 5:8 NASB “O LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; Make Your way straight before me.” He is asking for God to deal with the situation, handle the circumstances and lead him forward in the midst of the opposition that he faces.

Psalm 5:9 NASB “There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction {itself.} Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue.” This is the verse that is quoted by Paul. The verse focuses on the characteristic of the unrighteous, the one who opposes David. The part that Paul quotes is just the last part. The LXX translation: “Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit.” We can see that Romans 3:13 follows the LXX. The organ is the throat and what it produces is the words, language, slander, malice, bitterness. It is much more vivid to say their throat is an open grave than it is to say they speak lies. What it produces is death, not life. In this first quote the focus is on sins of the tongue. Not only does he say there is none righteous, etc., now he is going to give specifics. He points out that everybody has committed sins of the tongue.

“THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”. Paul expands on this in Psalm 140. Psalm 140:1 NASB “Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men [2] Who devise evil things in {their} hearts; They continually stir up wars.” Notice the words used here to describe the unrighteous: evil, violent, they plan evil things in their hearts. It is not just a matter of overt sin; it is a matter of mental attitude sin. They are violent, destructive. Psalm 140:3 NASB “They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips. Selah.” Where is the first place that we see “serpent” mentioned in Scripture? Genesis chapter three where the serpent deceives Eve. So when David says they sharpen their tongues, that means preparation. You sharpen an instrument of war to do damage. They are going to be deceptive just as Satan was. The poison of vipers: what comes forth is going to have the destructive death producing quality of an asp. The picture that he is painting here is of the destructiveness of this language.