No One Seeks After God, Really?


Intro: I've shared in times past the importance of context with respect to Biblical interpretation. The truth is that context is vitally important to understanding any situation in life.

Let me give you a quick example of this. In 1 Peter 3 the Apostle says,

[1Pe 3:8-9 NASB] 8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

All of the to-dos here: be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, etc. are all clearly good. And we may find biblical justification for applying these actions everywhere in the Christian life. However, context makes explicitly clear what this means to Peter's audience.

Notice the first three words of verse 8, "To sum up..." Everything that Peter says here is a reiteration of something he's already communicated. As such each of these ideas (even if they could apply in another area of the Christian life) is intended to reinforce what's already been taught.

Peter, in the first two chapters, instructs us to honor authority (both secular and sacred), that servants are to show respect to their masters (whether worthy or unworthy), and that if we suffer wrong for doing good we are to patiently endure. He then gives as our example Jesus Himself. Following that he talks about submissive wives and how husbands should honor their wives. This sets the stage for verse 8.

[1Pe 3:8-9 NASB] 8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

So when it comes to context: What does a citizen hear when Peter says...? What does a servant hear when Peter says...? What does a husband or wife hear when Peter says...?

If we understand the proper context we begin to see the magnitude of what Peter is saying. When we remove the context, we cheat ourselves.

We could also apply these ideas in unintended ways. For example, to be harmonious doesn't mean that we are to be cooperative with a sinful world. This would be as we say, "out of context." We do this with verses like Romans 12:18 as well, "if it is possible, in so far as it depends on you live at peace with everyone." This doesn't mean we are to "live and let live." That would reject the scripture that says that as children of light we're not to have fellowship with darkness and as a matter of fact, we're supposed to expose such darkness!

So you see how context shapes our understanding. Well today, as we continue in Romans, we're looking at a section of scripture that has been so mutilated with regard to its context that most people don't even have a clue how to approach it.

I hope, in our time together, to show you 1. the context of this passage from Romans 3 itself. Then 2. dive into the context of where these particular phrases came from in the Old Testament, 3. put it together reading it for what it actually says and finally, I want to show you some application.

Reading: [Rom 3:9-18 NASB] 9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 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." 13 "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING," "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS"; 14 "WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS"; 15 "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN." 18 "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES."

Message: ROMANS 3 CONTEXT

Up to this point, Paul has taught us that we become like what we worship. Then throughout chapter 2, we learn that as Christians who worship Jesus, who know that God is going to judge unrighteousness, that for us to continue in sin is not only hypocritical but it is to take for granted the mercy of God.

Nearing the midpoint of chapter 2 (verse 17) Paul calls out those who "bear the name Jew..." It's worth noting here that the term Christian was not a term of choice among believers. I'm not sure whether it was derogatory or merely a label the culture (Antioch) had given but at any rate, it wasn't commonly used.

My point is that when Paul addresses both Jews and Greeks he's doing so as those who've believed in the Messiah. So for Paul to say "if you bear the name Jew" is for him to specifically target the Jewish believer in Jesus. It is not for him to go outside of the parameter of the letter which is addressed to the saints of God.

What he addresses is an issue that stands as one of the central themes of the book of Romans; specifically that God isn't partial and that His plan is to save both "the Jew first and then the Greek."

During this part of the letter, Paul speaks of the advantage of the Jew and the benefit of circumcision. Then he draws his readers attention to the faithfulness of God. And finally, he humbles them by saying, advantage or not, the Jew is not better than anyone else. They too are a product of the merciful choice of God. And this is what sets up what we read in verses 9-18.

[Rom 3:9-18 NASB] 9 What then? Are WE better than they? Not at all; for WE have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE..."

So 1. As you can see from the context of chapter 3 Paul is simply saying that all mankind is equal in the respect that we're all sinners. Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, female, you and me!

Even if this were the only context we had we would have enough to settle on this view. For Paul even sums up his entire dissertation here with Romans 3:22-23

[Rom 3:22-23 NASB] 22 ...for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We should be careful not to do with this passage what many have done. Taking away from God's words is prohibited but adding to it is equally prohibited! This has led to man-made doctrines like "total inability"; a doctrine that says man can't even respond to God or the Gospel, that regeneration must precede faith even though the scripture repeatedly declares that it does not, and that God must give the measure of faith we need in order to believe which ignores the "members of one body" context of that particular passage of scripture. (Romans 12:1-8)

Regeneration DOES NOT PRECEDE FATIH:

(https://soteriology101.com/2016/03/09/does-regeneration-precede-faith/)

Old Testement CONTEXT

Now we move to the OT context shedding light on the details of each particular phrase.

[Rom 3:10-12 NASB] 10 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."

Both Psalm 14 and 53 are quoted here and if you take the time to read them you'll find that 1. that Paul (using Davids words) is communicating that the whole world has become foolish. For those who encamped against Israel thought that the God of Israel didn't exist. While sadly, as we can see in Psalm 53:5 Israel didn't believe either as was evidenced by their needless fear of their enemies; for God scatters! They lived in needless dread.

[Psa 53:1-6 NASB] 1 For the choir director; according to Mahalath. A Maskil of David. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God," They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good. 2 God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there is anyone who understands, Who seeks after God. 3 Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. 4 Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge, Who eat up My people [as though] they ate bread And have not called upon God? 5 There they were in great fear [where] no fear had been; For God scattered the bones of him who encamped against you; You put [them] to shame, because God had rejected them. 6 Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores His captive people, Let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

[Rom 3:13-14 NASB] 13 "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING," "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS"; 14 "WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS";

[Psa 5:9 NASB] 9 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.

[Psa 140:3 NASB] 3 They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips. Selah.

The fools of verses 10-12 have now become violent. Both Israel and the world around them have become swift to shed blood. What starts in the heart, consumes the mind and then turns into action.

[Rom 3:15-17 NASB] 15 "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN."

[Isa 59:7-8 NASB] 7 Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways. 8 They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace.

Paul then concludes with verse 18

[Rom 3:18 NASB] 18 "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES."

[Psa 36:1 NASB] 1 For the choir director. [A Psalm] of David, the servant of the LORD. Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.

Putting It All Together: Paul in Romans 3:9-18 in context has said that all people (Jew and Greek) are violent, ungodly fools. We've all revealed this in different ways whether it's hating our brother in our heart or actually murdering them. Whether we've stood against God acting as though He doesn't exist or not trusting Him to scatter our enemy. The point is simply that no one is righteous apart from His glorious MERCY!

#faith #regeneration #salvation #mercy #grace #Jesus #calvinism #totaldepravity #NathanFranckhauser #piercepointcommunitychurch #ppcc

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