About Us Services MinistriesSermon Message Bible StudyChurch Calendar Contact Us


Statement of Faith

The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell You

Listen to this week's message!

Map to the Church

Prayer Requests

Enhance your daily reading of God's word. Click here for free, printable Bible Reading and Prayer Journal sheets!

Bible Study Archives


"The Closing of Every Mouth"
Romans 3:1-20

Wednesday PM Home Bible Study
June 25, 2003

Almost everyone enjoys a good 'courtroom drama' - unless, of course, they're the defendant. You can imagine this evenings passage as a courtroom drama; but this time, it's you and I who stand trial.

The charge has been brought against us that we - along with every other human being born of Adam - have sinned against God and now stand guilty before Him as condemned sinners. In this passage, Paul - the prosecuting attorney - systematically rips our every defense away and leaves us without any plea. But he doesn't do this to simply leave us condemned, but to then present us with the only hope we have - God's free and gracious declaration that we can be justified by faith in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. God proves our guilt, so that He might pour out His grace on us.

This is Paul's closing arguments in a very important and tightly argued section of Romans - that section in which He proves our need for the great theme of his letter, which is "justification by faith". He first introduced this theme in 1:16-17, and he finally declares it in 3:21-31. This passage brings us to the brink of that great and wonderful declaration. It puts the final touch on Paul's presentation of the "bad news" about our sin that makes the "Good News" of God's grace so wonderfully good!

The court is in session. A series of witnesses against the defense have already been brought forth. First, "Creation" has borne witness against us; declaring that it has revealed the truth about God, but that we have suppressed that truth in unrighteousness (1:18-23). Second, "Conscience" has borne witness against us; declaring that it has testified to God's law within our hearts, but that though we've known what is right, we haven't done it (2:1-16). Third, "Commandments" have borne witness against us; declaring that God has clearly entrusted His written moral code to the Jewish people, but that not even they have kept it (2:17-24). And finally, "Circumcision" has presented its witness against us; declaring that we seek only to conform to religion on the outside, but failing to keep it from the heart on the inside (2:25-29). The combined witnesses of Creation, Conscience, Commandments and Circumcision is that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

Paul presents his case as if against the Jew - and in doing so, he is presenting his case against everyone else; because no one could make a better case for acceptance by God through works than the Jew. (3:9 shows us that Paul is really talking about all of us.) And now, you and I - as defendants - must take the stand ...


A. "But I'm a Jew! Doesn't that count for something?" Yes; it does. The great advantage is that you have been entrusted with the written law - the "oracles of God". Yet, all that does is compound your guilt because you have not kept that law (vv. 1-2).

B. "But God made promises to the Jews! So what if I didn't believe! That doesn't affect God's faithfulness, does it?" God forbid that our failures should make God's faithfulness of no effect! But this too compounds your guilt; for let God be true, and every man be proven a liar - just as it says in such passages as Psalm 51:4 and 62:9 (vv. 3-4).

C. "Alright then. But if it's true that my unfaithfulness has caused God's faithfulness to shine even brighter - I mean, if He ends up getting glory because of my sin - then isn't He being unjust to pour out His anger on me? Didn't my sin benefit Him?" Enough!! How dare you insinuate that God is unjust in judging your sin!! (vv. 5-6a). This is wrong for two reasons:

1. First, if God is unrighteous for judging sin, then how could He judge the world? If He is wrong to judge you for your sin; then how could He be right to judge anyone? (v. 6b).

2. Second, if the truth of God has increased through your lie to His glory, then what would keep you from making the argument that you should 'sin up a storm to the glory of God'? People who have made similar rationalizations for their sins are condemned - and justly so! (vv. 7-8).


A. Your Honor, the prosecution concludes that the defendant - even if he were to be a Jew - stands no more innocent than any other sinner. We have previously charged that both Jews (2:17-29) and Greeks (1:18-2:16), are all equally under the guilt of sin (v. 9).

B. The prosecution therefore brings the following charges against the defendant:

1. Six counts against him for his complete corruption of character (vv. 10-12; see also Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccl. 7:20).
a. He is unrighteous before You, for "There is none righteous, no,not one ..."

b. He is corrupt in his thinking about You, for "There is none who understands ..."

c. He is irreverent toward You, for "There is none who seeks after God ..."

d. He is resistant toward You, for "They have all turned aside ... unprofitable ..."

f. He does among those who do evil before You, for "There is none who does good, no, not one."

2. Four counts against him for his unrighteous speech - which is corrupt completely in throat, tongue, lips and mouth (vv. 13-14; see also Psalm 5:9; 140:3; 10:7).

a. His speech is death, for "Their throat is an open tomb ..."

b. His speech is characterized by habitual lies, for "With their tongues they have practiced deceit ..."

c. His speech hurts others, for "The poison of asps is under their lips ..." (see also James 3:8).

d. His speech is vile, for he is among those "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness."

3. Three counts against him for how he relates to his fellow man (vv. 15-17; see also Prov. 1:16; Isa. 59:7-8).

a. He is murderous to others, for "Their feet are swift to shed blood ..."

b. He is dangerous toward others, for "Destruction and misery are in their ways ..."

c. He is hostile toward others, "And the way of peace they have not known ..."

4. One count against him for how he relates to God (the most serious count of all - v. 18; see also Psalm 36:1). He is wrong from the very start (1:18-21), for "There is no fear of God before their eyes."


A. These indictments charge all with guilt before God - those under the law, and thereby everyone else who is without the law.

B. As a consequence, the defense must close its mouth against these charges and admit guilt.


A. His efforts to make his standing good before God on the basis of his deeds has failed. He is not justified before God (Isa. 64:6).

B. Instead, all that his efforts have done is condemn him under the law. He deserves the righteous wrath of God. The sentence, therefore - which must be fully executed - is death (Rom. 6:23a).

Before we close our look at the bad news about our sin, however; just remember: It's because of this final verdict that Paul - the prosecuting attorney - now leaps for joy and declares to us that God, the righteous Judge, has provided His own Son to pay the penalty for our sins! Paul expresses this wonderful news for us in 3:21-31! Praise God!! God righteously condemns us to death; but then graciously provides a Substitute who willingly pays the death penalty for us!

God does not simply ignore His holy law in order to save us; but rather sees to it that His law is fulfilled while at the same time declaring us sinners "righteous" - all through Another stepping in to pay the penalty for us. God thus proves Himself to be both "just" and "the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" 3:26)! Praise Him for His amazing grace!!

Printable Version

Bethany Bible Church, 18245 NW Germantown Road, Portland, OR 97231 / 503.645.1436

Site Map | Privacy Policy | Copyright Information