This week in my Exegesis of Romans class, I noticed something in chapter 3 that intrigued me. I’d already noticed the division in vv. 10-18 into two parts: universal sin (10-12) and personal sin (13-18). But I did not recognize what Paul quotes about the corrosiveness of sin in 13-18. Notice:

Their throat is an open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.

The venom of asps is under their lips.

Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.

Their feet are swift to shed blood;

in their paths are ruin and misery,

and the way of peace they have not known (emphasis added).

We use our speech to ruin relationships and individuals. We speak to kill (“open grave”), to mislead (“to deceive”), to poison (“venom of asps”), and to curse others (“full of curses and bitterness”). We are quick to attack, ruin and make miserable instead of being quick to pursue peace. In the end, we do no good; we are altogether wicked. For that reason Paul says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes”.

This is seen on the evening news, among our political pundits, in our churches and in my home. I have seen this too often in my own life. Instead of seeking peace with Annie, I will too quickly fight her and tear her down. After all, I’m a Bible college graduate and a seminary student; I’ve been trained to argue. I’m so ashamed that I can look at the Scriptures, study the Scriptures, pray the Scriptures and even preach the Scriptures, yet my life is so far from the Scriptures. There is no fear of God before my eyes.

Thank God for revealing his righteousness apart from the Law– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. I praise God that, though I have sinned and refused to live for the glory of God, he has declared me righteous by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Jesus. I marvel that he would put forward his Son to experience the fulness of his wrath on the cross, so that I could receive the gift of grace. And I exult in God for being both just and the justifier of my soul because of his love. I do not boast in myself; I have been corroded by my sin. I instead boast in God who pursued me and loved me and saved me through Christ.

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