Guilty

Paul indicated the common denominator between Jews and Gentiles was that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). What Paul was saying was that the human race as a whole was affected by Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. The only hope for mankind was being justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). Paul differentiated the physical and spiritual aspects of Judaism and said, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28-29). Paul wanted non-Jewish believers to understand that “the true sign of belonging to God is not an outward mark on the physical body, but the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit within” (note on Romans 2:29).

The primary reason Paul wanted to remove the distinction between Jews and Gentiles was so that the Roman believers could see that they were on equal footing with Paul. There was no advantage to being born Jewish. Paul stated, “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; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:9-10). Paul went on to say that spiritual blindness was the reason no one could satisfy God’s requirements. He stated, “There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” The Greek word Paul used that is translated good is chrestotes (khray-stot’-ace). “This word refers not to a virtue of a person that encompasses only to a person’s word and countenance, it refers to the virtue that pervades and penetrates the whole nature, that mellows anything harsh and austere. It is that virtue that is gentle, charming, and calm, suited to the company of all good people, attracting their friendship, delightful in encouragement and moderate in manners” (G5544).

Paul’s declaration that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) was meant to bring the Romans to the conclusion that they, like the Jews, were in need of a savior. Paul explained that Jesus’ blood was the only way to remove the guilt of sin and stated, “God gave Jesus Christ to the world. Men’s sins can be forgiven through the blood of Christ when they put their trust in Him. God gave His Son Jesus Christ to show how right He is” (Romans 3:25, NLV). Paul’s explanation of salvation centered on the fact that the blood of Christ could only atone for sins through an act of faith, putting one’s trust in him. Paul concluded by stating, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). In other words, we cannot be made righteous by doing what God’s law commands; the guilt of our sin can only be removed by putting our trust in the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s sinless son.

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