The Final Verdict- Romans 3:9-20

We're in Romans, chapter 3. We're beginning in verse 9, and if we can do this, we're going to go through verse 20. This is Paul's summation for everything that he has said to this point in this first major section of the book of Romans, which the one word that summarizes this first section, is condemnation. Beginning in chapter 1, verse 18, is the final crescendo of this section. There is no good news until we know what the bad news is. There is no understanding of salvation until you understand what you have to be saved from. That's what this opening section is. Beginning in verse 9, Paul presents this as a courtroom. The one who is being prosecuted is the entire human race. The judge, the jury, and the prosecutor is God, Himself. Paul is simply the court reporter. This is actually God's prosecution of the entire human race. The evidence that is being submitted is the entire Old Testament. It is the law of God. It is the standard by which the entire human race is measured and the verdict is guilty as charged. The entire human race is under condemnation. No one is excused. There is no court of higher appeal. The verdict is irrevocable and fixed.

 

As we look at these verses, this is how it lays out. In verse 9 is the charge. In verses 10 through 18 is the case. And in verses 19 and 20 is the condemnation. First Paul will make the charge on behalf of God. Then he will bring his case, and he will present the evidence. It's irrefutable evidence. And then, finally, the condemnation, which is the verdict of the court. This is a dramatic ending to this opening section.

 

I.               The Charge

 

Paul begins in verse 9 with the charge. The charge is at the end of verse 9, but there is a build up. What then? He asks the question. What more needs to be said? What more could be said than what he has already presented? And then he says, "Are we better than they?" The “we” … there's a difference of opinion here, whether the we refers to Jews, or the we is an editorial we, Paul and all the believers in Rome. I think in the context it refers to the later. And this is really a minor point, but it really shows how to do Bible study.

 

If you look in the previous verse, verse 8, we is used twice. "We are slanderously reported, and as some claim, that we say." Now we come to verse 9. "Are we better than they?" In context, Bible study is just like real estate. Location, location, location. The we here, I think, pulls down from verse 8 to verse 9, and Paul is saying, "Are we Christians, we believers, are we any better than those who are not Christians, not believers?" And he says, "Not at all." In other words, any difference in us is only by the grace of God. It's not that we're better, inherently or internally, than anyone else.

 

"What then? Are they better … are we better than they? Not at all, for we have already charged," and he's pointing back now to chapters 1, 2, and the first part of 3. "For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks," and when he says Jews and Greeks, he's putting his arms around the entire human race. Every person who has ever been born in the history of the world, going all the way back to the first man who was formed by the hand of God and God breathed life in him. "For we have already charged," and the charge here, it's a legal charge. "For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin." There's no other line to get in. There's no other category. This is the entire human race under sin. To be under sin means to be under the penalty of sin, to be under the power of sin, and to be under the pollution of sin. To be under sin is to be enslaved to sin, and to be dominated by sin. You're under the tyranny of sin. You're under the domination of sin, and you're under the condemnation of sin. It's as if you're under the whole pile, and you cannot get out from underneath it by your own efforts.

 

This is where it begins. It will be repeated in verse 23 when he says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is the charge. Now, lest there be anyone who would disagree with this charge, Paul now makes his case. And really, the case is God's case, because what Paul will now do, in verses 10 through 18, is he will throw out a litany of Old Testament citations. The reason that he does so is twofold, in quoting the Old Testament here. Number one, to show this is not Paul's case. This is God's case. He's quoting the word of God. This is not Paul's opinion. This is not Paul's thoughts. This is not even the voice of society or culture. This is God's prosecution. This is God's case against the human race.

 

II.             The Case

 

The second reason that Paul quotes from the Old Testament is to show that this case and prosecution is nothing new. That this has been embedded in Old Testament scripture all along. This is simply an echo, or a repetition of the case that has already been submitted in the court. Now, as Paul quotes these Old Testament verses, there's some eight Old Testament verses. Some of them, for example, Psalm 14, 1-3, is repeated in Psalm 53, 1-3. There's actually more Old Testament verses being quoted here than what initially meets the eye. If you have a reference Bible, you'll see the references out in the margin. Paul is just bringing witness after witness after witness to the stand. In reality, this is God bringing these witnesses to the stand. What we have here, in verses 10 through 18, is the supreme signature passage for the total depravity of the human condition. This is the go to text, the go to passage for total depravity.

 

Now, I would imagine most of you around this table have heard this theological label, total depravity. Some refer to it as radical corruption. When we say total depravity, what we mean is that depravity has extended to the totality of the human condition. From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, every inch and every ounce of you has become poisoned with the deadly venom of sin. Total depravity does not mean that every person is as totally depraved in their lifestyle as they could possibly be. Some people, such as a Hitler reach a far greater expression of evil than an unconverted grandmother. However, total depravity means that Adam's sin nature has been passed down to the entire human race, and that it has now radically corrupted the mind, the heart, and the will, every inch and every ounce of humanity such that the mind is unable to think properly, and for any person to come up with their own understanding of how bad off they are, apart from divine intervention. The heart loves what it should hate, and it hates what it should love. That is the mark of total depravity.

 

Now, there are some Christians who think, "Okay, the mind and the heart are affected by sin. But the will is still free." That is such a naive understanding of the Bible that it barely warrants a comment. The will is simply a handmaiden of the mind and the heart. Wherever the mind and the heart is, the will follows. The will never operates independent of the mind and the heart. The will is the tail. The tail is not wagging the dog. The tail is simply following in behind the head and the torso. Wherever the mind, and wherever the heart, the affections, desires go, the will then always makes choices in accordance to the affections and to the mind. The will is not an island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The entire human nature is the Pacific Ocean, but the will is unaffected by sin, and it is untainted and can somehow operate independent of the mind and the affections.

 

What we have here is Paul's masterful use of the Old Testament to build his case one brick at a time, as he makes now this insurmountable case. I want to just give you a walk through this before we walk through it more carefully. In verse 11 he speaks of the mind and the heart. In verse 12 he speaks of the will. In verse 13 he speaks of the throat, the tongue, and the lips. In verse 14 he speaks of the mouth. In verses 15 through 17 he speaks of feet. In verse 18 he speaks of eyes. Do you see that? You can just draw a circle around all the different parts of the body, and they are representative of human faculty. It speaks of the human condition. It speaks of the human character. It speaks of the human conversation that flows out of the character. It speaks of the human choices that are the result of the character.

 

This is a comprehensive autopsy of the spiritually dead sinner. This board table, if we were to take a dead corpse and just lay the corpse out on this board table, and start at the head and work our way down to the feet where every different body part represents some aspect of the human personality and the human nature, this is from A to Z. This is from coast to coast. This is from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. There is nothing left out. That's why we say total depravity. There's not one leg over here that's not dead and on the table. There's not some limb that has somehow not been poisoned by the venom of sin. It's like taking a glass of water and having a syringe, and injecting cyanide into the glass of water. That cyanide will permeate the whole of the glass. There will not be any part of the glass of water that is not poisoned by the cyanide.

 

When you and I were born, when we were conceived in the womb, the sin nature of Adam was injected into you and me, like a snake with its fangs, and injecting the venom and the poison into the victim. And we came into this world with every faculty of our innermost being already now poisoned by sin. This is a devastating case.

 

Let's just walk through this. Paul intentionally states most of these in the negative. There will be six negatives and one positive. And even the positive is negative, because the positive is the word all, A-L-L. The negatives, he says, none and not six times. And it's just a direct quotation from the Old Testament. For any of us who would argue with this -and I'm sure none of us around this table would argue with this- but for anyone who would argue with this, your argument is with God. Paul is simply the court reporter. God is the prosecutor, and God is the jury, and God is the judge. This is God's courtroom.

 

Let's just walk our way through this. He begins by quoting the Old Testament. He says, "There is none righteous, not even one." Excuse me, I said six negatives. There are seven. I missed the second one in verse 10, "note even one." I overlooked a not. There's none righteous. There could not be a more comprehensive statement than this. Not one single person meets the divine standard to gain acceptance with God. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The word righteous means conformity to a standard. "There is none righteous." Then to be even more emphatic, God's word adds, "not even one." There is no exception. By the way, just a footnote, this is why Jesus had to be born of a virgin, so that the deadly fang of sin and its venom would not be injected into him. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not by Joseph. Therefore, God had prepared a body for him, and he had all of the faculties of human nature, it was without sin.

 

"There is none righteous, not even one." This is like what we call a topic sentence in a paragraph. It's like the umbrella over the whole. He almost starts with the bottom line. "There is none righteous, not even one." Now he begins to walk through this, step by step. He goes to the mind. He says, "There is none who understands." There is none who understands their human condition before God. There is none who truly understands how guilty and condemned they are before God. There is none who understands that their only way of escaping is by the grace of God. There is none who understands how holy God is, and how sinful they are. There mind cannot function. It doesn't matter how smart they are. It doesn't matter how high their IQ is. They may be a professor at the university, and writing the textbooks, and be the most brilliant person in their zip code. But they don't get it. They do not understand, spiritually. In earthly matters, they can be a brainiac but in spiritual matters, their mind and their brain cannot understand.

 

Just for one cross reference, I Corinthians 2 verse 14 says, "For a natural man does not accept the things of the spirit, for they are foolishness to him." The word foolish comes from Greek word that we derive the English word moron. That you have no mental capacity to process the data and the information of divine revelation that is being put before you. And now listen. He cannot understand them. You know the difference between may and can. May is a word of permission, can is a word of ability. Paul says, "He cannot understand him." He can't. You're describing a sunset to a blind man. You are describing a symphony to a deaf person. They can't see it, they can't hear it, they can't understand it, because they are spiritually appraised.

 

Paul begins with the mind. Everything begins with the mind. Then, he moves to the heart. "There is none who seeks for God." To seek God is representative of a desire for God, a love for God, a passion for God. There's none who seeks for God. By the way, this includes every false religion, as well. People sometimes say, "Oh, they're so sincere, as they're seeking God in their own way." No they're not. They're running away from God as fast as they can, and they have succumbed to this idol, which is their way of running away from the one true living God who has created all that there is. "There is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside." This verb, turned aside, means to lean in another direction. And the idea is, you're going in the wrong direction on the wrong path. This, as Jesus will say in Matthew 7, is the broad path that is headed for destruction.

 

Sin will always make you stupid. Sin will always cause you to make the worst decisions, spiritually speaking. Here is the autopsy of the spiritually dead sinner, and he always makes the wrong choice. He always turns aside and away from God. Now, he may know how to pick a good house to live in. He may know how to match up his tie with his suit. He may know how to do math as a CPA. But spiritual choices, he will always and inevitably make the wrong decision, because his wires are not connected. He is spiritually dead. Then, he goes on to say, "Together," and the word together has this summation feel of the entire human race. "Together they have become useless."

 

Useless is a very intentionally demeaning word. You are totally, completely useless. As it relates to the kingdom of God, as it relates to eternal things, you make zero contribution whatsoever. Jesus, in Luke 14, will compare it to dung. It's not even useful for the dung pile. The word useless here means worthless. It was used to describe milk that has turned sour, that no one could drink or take in. Then he says, "There is none who does good." None. Now, you may help old ladies across the street, and horizontally you may occasionally do some charitable things. But from God's perspective, everything that you do is useless, as it relates to commending yourself to God, and gaining God's approval. Then he adds this emphatic, at the end of verse 14, "There is not even one."

 

This is one proof that the Bible is the word of God, because man would not condemn himself like this. Man will always try to present himself better than what he is. Man will always over promise and under deliver. Man will always buy high, sell low. Man will always try to dress himself up better than what he is. This indictment of the entire human race shows that this has to be the word of God, because no man would bring this condemnation upon himself like this.

Now, look at verse 13. In verse 13 and 14, the focus is upon the mouth. The mouth is simply a window into the heart. There's an old saying, "What's down in the well comes up in the bucket." And what's down in the heart comes out of the mouth. Sometimes someone will say something and go, "Oh, I can't believe I said that." Are you kidding me? I can't believe you hadn't been saying more. Knowing what's down in the heart, it's unbelievable the restraint that you've shown. So, verses 13 and 14, the focus is upon the mouth, which brings indisputable evidence, because it's so public, it's so out in the open. Everyone knows what your mouth has been saying. Verse 13, "Their throat is an open grave." When he says, their throat, he's talking about everyone's throat. Not just some people, everyone's throat who is outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. Outside of the kingdom of God.

 

Now, graves are not left open. There's something going on here. Graves are sealed up. And the reason they are sealed up is because when people go walking by, if it wasn't sealed up, if it remained open, the stench and the decay and the wretchedness would be so odious and so foul that no one would even come within a mile of this burial plot. It's a mercy to cover it up. For it to be open, is just like an open sewer line with filth that is being pumped out. Paul says, "There throat is an open grave." They can't keep their mouth shut. The more they talk, the worse it is. The more they slander, the more they elevate themselves, the more they pontificate, the more they posture themselves as an authority and an expert on every subject there is, the more they love to hear themselves talk, the more they are the hero of their own stories, the more they justify themselves, the more they put everyone else down. It's just an open grave.

 

The throat here is lower than the lips or the tongue, and it's showing that it's coming up out of the heart, through the throat, out of the mouth, launched by the tongue. This is an extraordinary picture that Paul is assembling here. Then with their tongues they keep deceiving. It's not just that they deceive every once in awhile. They are nonstop deception. And it began that was as soon as they were born. They wanted to be held. They had just been fed. They're crying, as if they need to be fed again. No, they're just making this up. They came out of their mother's womb lying and deceiving. And the word deceiving here carries … it's a word that was used to bait a hook so as to lure a fish in to bite it. It's luring a prey by deception, and by camouflage, and by deceit. And we have all been the victim of it. And we all do it.

 

I'm amazed at times how naïve I can be at times, as people will say certain things to me, and I'll actually think it's a compliment. In reality, they're wanting me to do something for them, and it'll take my wife explaining to me the game that's going on here, as people are just so deceptive. I do it, too. We butter people up. Our tongues just keep deceiving. But it gets worse. The next line in verse 13, "The poison of asp" … and an asp is a snake, is a serpent. "The poison of asp is under their lips." This poison is the venom, that once the fangs are ejected and bite into the person, and they release poison, it spreads death. It's the lips that are injecting death into other people, to bring other people down, to destroy their reputation, to destroy their credibility, to destroy their prosperity, to take advantage for yourself. The poison of asp is under their lips. Even the imagery here of Satan, when he first slithered onto the page of scripture in Genesis 3, and pontificates his lies. John 8:44, Jesus said, "You are of your father, the devil. He's the father of all lies." The imagery there of the snake and the serpent is picked up here.

 

Again, this is a part of the total depravity. It's all being pumped out of the heart. Then in verse 14 is the mouth, "Whose mouth is full of," not partially full, but is full, filled to overflowing, "with cursings and bitterness." The cursings here, refer to intense hatred. To curse someone is to desire to bring judgment down upon them. Bitterness is just open hostility against an enemy.

 

Then verse 15, their feet. "Their feet are swift to shed blood." We go from the mouth and the throat and the lips and the tongue to the feet. Do you see how this is all connected? You can't have sin in one part of your life and compartmentalize it, and it not have spread to the whole. Verse 15, the feet. "Their feet are swift to shed blood." The idea is sprinting and running. They're not slow, they're not hesitant, they're not dragging their feet, they're not shuffling, they're not walking, they're not crawling. They are swift, because the heart is driving them to shed blood. The idea here is to kill. Jesus said, "If you have hatred for another person, you've already committed murder." The animosity within the heart is now being carried out by the feet. There's no disconnect in body parts here. The idea of the feet is the course of their life, the direction of their life, the path that they have chosen to take in life.

 

Then verse 16, he continues with this imagery of the path, where all this path takes them. He goes, "Destruction and misery are in their paths." I can't think of a more devastating audit of this path. Their life is a train wreck. Destruction speaks of the destruction that they cause to other people. The destruction to their business partners, the destruction to their spouse, the destruction to their children, the destruction to their friends, much less their enemies, or much greater their enemies. The side of the highway of their life is just filled with destruction. On I-30 today, this morning, there was a huge semi-truck accident. It just clogged up everything. One person's mistake affects thousands of people and just shuts down part of the city.

 

It is with people's lives. Destruction. You don't sin and it not affect someone else. It just leaves destruction. The children are left to deal with it, because the decisions of the father, the decisions of the mother, destruction and the result of what destruction brings is misery. No one's immune to it. They only wish they could be numb to it. They feel the pain of it as this unsaved person is just leaking oil and leaking gas everywhere.

 

Verse 17 continues this same imagery of the feet." The path of peace they have not known." Not for one second. They certainly have no peace within themselves. That's why they're so restless to cause trouble for everyone else. They have not known peace with anyone else. They're just trouble looking for someplace to happen.

 

Now, this is also by way of application. This is why you need to marry another Christian. What fool would marry this person? Seriously, you want to be tied up with this for the rest of your life? No. You better marry someone who has been born again by the spirit of God from above, and whose live is dominated by God. Or you just bought in to major, major trouble for the rest of your life.

 

Verse 18 now. We have to get to verse 18, guys. Verse 18 is the eyes, now. "There is no fear of God before their eyes." This is categorically true. Not one drop of fear. There's no reverencing of God. There's no taking God serious. There's no humility before God. There's no dread of the final day. There's no dread of the final judgment. There's no dread of hell. If there was, they would be running to Christ. Now, they may be loosing sleep at night, and they may be traumatized. If they truly feared God they would run to the Saviour, and they would believe in him and trust him. The mere fact that they remain in unbelief is proof positive that there is no fear of God. You do not take God seriously. You do not take God's word seriously.

 

Before their eyes carries the idea of your whole world view, your whole life perspective. No matter where you look, no matter what you're looking at, there's no fear of God. Whether you're at the office, whether you're at home, whether you're at recreation, there's no fear of God. This is a slam dunk case. How could anyone in their right mind argue against the doctrine of total depravity?

 

III.           The Condemnation

 

This brings us to the condemnation. This is now the verdict. The judge's gavel now comes down. He says, verse 19, "Now we know." Paul says that we all know this with certainty, absolute certainty. That whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law. Please note the place of the law continues, even in the New Testament. The law reveals the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Every commandment in the law is a revelation of the holiness of God. Every commandment reveals our own sinfulness, in that we have disobeyed and fallen short of the glory of God. The law is intended to be used evangelistically, also. There are multiple uses of the law.

 

Jesus, when he met the rich young ruler, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said, "Well, what does the law say?" Jesus uses the law. With another lawyer on another occasion, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus uses the law. That is what Paul is doing here. Those who are under the law speaks of every person who has ever lived. In this sense, even Jesus was born under the law. To be under the law means to have direct accountability to the law. Jesus was the only one to obey the law perfectly, and to keep the law. This he did on our behalf. We'll talk about that in our future studies. But at this point, the entire human race and the point is, everyone outside of Christ is under the law, is accountable to the law, is judged by the law, has been measured by the law, "so that every mouth may be closed." No excuses. No self-justification. No self-vindication. No cry of mistrial. Every mouth will be closed because of the irrefutable indictment that the law brings. The law cannot save. But the law brings a person to the point where they know they need to be saved. The law is a tutor to take us to Christ.

 

It is the law that has shut every mouth. Everyone will be speechless. No one, on the last day, will be pounding the table and saying, "You've got the wrong person. This wasn't true." The testimony of the law will be so … and the books will be opened and the book of life will be opened. Every mouth will be closed. All the world may become accountable to God, must answer to God in the judgment.

 

He concludes in verse 20, "Because by the works of the law," meaning attempts at self-righteousness, attempts to keep the law, "no flesh," … well there's an eighth no [Laughs] … "no flesh will be justified in his sight." If there was ever a text in the entire Bible that says that you cannot earn your salvation, you cannot work your way to heaven, it is this text. The cross is not a ladder by which you pull yourself up to God by your own works. "No flesh will be justified in his sight." To be justified, as we will see the next time we meet together, is to be declared the righteousness of God and find perfect acceptance with God in heaven. He concludes, "For through the law comes the knowledge of sin."

 

It's a closed case. This is why everyone needs the Lord. This is why everyone must be born again, or you will not even see the kingdom of heaven. This is why you and I must tell others about Christ. This is why we've got to reach the world for Christ. This should bring such a sense of humility and gratitude and praise to every one of our hearts that we would be out from under this indictment. The noose was around our neck. We were at the gallows. They were ready to put the hood over our head and our face. They were ready to remove the floor beneath us, and we were about to be hung. Then God intervened. He sent his son to die in our place, that we would be set free. If the son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

The application is endless on this. We've got ten minutes here. I need to open it up.

 

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

 

Audience question: We have someone here. He says, for reaching the unchurched now, those with no biblical knowledge or reference point, do we still begin with the law? Paul's audience would have been familiar with the Old Testament quotes. What about the Gentiles in his day?

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Well, the answer to that is, when you look at Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, even how Jesus did evangelism, he didn't always start with the law. At the woman at the well, he begins, "Give me some water," and builds a bridge, and uses the analogy of a fountain and water, and living water, and drinking this water. To Nicodemus, before Nicodemus can even ask a question, Jesus already answers it. With the rich young ruler, he does begin with the law. So, I think with different people, there are different bridges we go across, and different ways, different contact points. But the law is always right there in our right hand, ready to be used at any point. And if someone doesn't see their own sinfulness, then I believe the law is our ally in evangelism. And the fact of the matter is, God has written his law upon their heart. That's a great question. So even in scripture itself, every gospel presentation does not … it's not recorded that the law achieves.

 

But on the other extreme would be to never use the law, and to say the law's irrelevant, or the law doesn't have a present ministry. That would be the other extreme, and that would be equally devastating, as well. So, Matt, did I see your hand getting ready to come up there?

 

Audience question: Getting back to no one seeks, certainly we have those in false religions who would be in the category of zeal without knowledge. And, of course, they're seeking idolatry. They're not seeking the true God. But what's fascinating is, you go through the gospels, it struck me years ago that people do seek Jesus, but they seek him for all the wrong reasons. You seek me because you want your belly filled, or you seek me because you want me to be a rabbit's foot, or you seek me because you're in a fox hole right now, and you need help for the moment. But the only way they will seek him for the righteousness that he provides for heaven, is if he seeks them first. That's the only reason that they seek him for the reason he came. And there's many, I think, that were healed physically in his day that never received spiritual salvation, as they sought to have their eyes fixed, but their heart remained unchanged. And he says, "Go and sin no more." And so, it's fascinating that men do seek. I think we have these seeker friendly churches, and people are seeking Jesus for a business deal. But they're not seeking him for righteousness, because they can't seek him unless he seeks them first.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Absolutely. The distinction we need to make is between the Lord, and what he gives and provides. And the people who are in this seeking, they're not seeking the giver. They're seeking the gifts. So that's the distinction. No one is seeking the giver. They want the gift.

 

Audience: It's no different than Romans 1. They go to an art gallery and they go up and they hug the painting, and they forget Van Gogh.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. No, that's a great point, Matt. No, I thank you for that.

 

Someone else. What insight?

 

Audience: I think that time when you were saying that sin leaves destruction and affects others. I think that just in society today, there's all these questions about why do you care what somebody does? Why do you care if two gay people want to get married? Why do you care if this woman wants to have an abortion? Why do you care if this person wants to spend their wealth this way? Nobody's independent. People's sin affects an entire society. And I think that that's forgotten, is that yeah, that's why we do care about the way people behave. And because its going to effect even your trip to Germany. The community you were in is, it's infected.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Yeah. No, that's a great point, and I'm so glad for you to make that, that everyone gets this, that no one sins in a closet, and it doesn't affect people outside the closet. Yeah.

 

Audience question: We've got another one here. Says, "What do you say to those that say the Old Testament no longer applies? We don't live by the Old Testament because we now have Christ?" That was Pamela Tucker-Griffiths.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Yeah. Well what I would say to that is Paul obviously didn't understand that. Paul makes his entire case using the Old Testament. And to understand the law, you have to understand there's a threefold distinction. Moral law, ceremonial law, civil law. The ceremonial law has all been fulfilled in the death of Christ. There's no more priesthood, there's no more sacrifice to be offered, no more day of atonement, no more festivals and feasts, et cetera. It's all fulfilled in Christ. And the civil part of the law I think does have some function, though it is not totally imposed upon our culture. There was the death penalty for being disobedient to your parents. There were 23 things that brought the death penalty. It's the mercy of God that all those are not still in effect. But the moral law is still in effect. And here's the key point Nine out of the ten are sited in the New Testament as still in effect and binding. And the one on the Sabbath is the only one that there is a question even among Christians, to what extent is the Sabbath still in effect? Proverbs is still in effect. Psalms is still in effect. There are still prophecies in the Old Testament that are yet to be fulfilled in the second coming of Christ. So, to try to segment the Old Testament and say it's not in effect today is really an odd, what I would call a hyper dispensationalism that's just a bad place to be. In fact, in the book of Romans and in I Corinthians, it says, "We still have the Old Testament as an example to us on how to live." And when you look at Hebrews 11, the writer of Hebrews just points back to the Old Testament, by faith, Enoch, by faith Noah, by faith Abraham, by faith Sarah, et cetera, et cetera, pointing to the examples of the Old Testament that should inspire us to live our Christian life. So that's a very good question, and I don't want to give a longer answer.

 

Audience: I heard someone say, one of your preacher friends, that we like to say, and we do, we say we are no longer under the law, but we are under grace, which is true. But, there is a law in grace. And there's grace in law.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: And there's even grace in law, in that it's the ceremonial law that had the whole priesthood was all a foreshadowing of Christ's sacrifice, and how he would give himself. So there's foreshadowings even in the law, of grace.

 

Audience: There's law in grace, and grace in the law.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Yeah. It's a grace of God for him to say, "Honor your father and your mother." It's a grace of God to say, "Do not steal."

 

Audience: And the standard's even higher than the law. That's the thing.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Yeah. Well, and here's another thing. Everyone in the Old Testament who was saved was saved by grace. And in the New Testament, every imperative commandment is law. You can't segment the Old Testament as just all law, no grace, and the New Testament is all grace, no law. That doesn't even make sense. That's a poor view of theology and Bible study. No one would have ever been saved in the Old Testament if there wasn't grace. And on one would even know how to live their Christian life in the New Testament if there's not the law of Christ and commandments to point and direct us how to live. Thank you, Kent. That's a great point.

 

Audience: But when you hear people say, "Oh, once we're saved, it's just love that we follow, it's the love of God we live, or love of Him." But you need direction.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Yeah. Of course we do. I think the moral law of God, even in the Old Testament is still in effect. Paul, in Ephesians 6, for example, he's quoting the law when he says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." He's quoting the law. The law is just repeated throughout the New Testament.

 

I think it's time for us to land this. Yeah. I'm so thankful for that clock, to be able to see what time it is. Men, great study, because it's God's word. And we need to really embrace this. We're going to get to the doctrines of grace, the doctrines of salvation, and you're not gonna want to miss a single one, because we're going to be walking on the sunny side of Hallelujah Avenue.

 

Audience: Amen.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson: Amen, brother. Amen. All right. Let me close in a word of prayer. Father, thank you for this study that we've had this morning. Set your word down deeply within our hearts and souls. Not only renew our mind, but now compel us to take this message to those who are around us, cause our hearts to be so thankful that you have raised us out of the grave of being dead to sin that we would live for you. In Christ's name, amen.

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.