Romans 3:20
Therefore no one will be justified in His sight by works of the law. For the law merely brings awareness of sin.
Dignity of Human Nature Shown from its RuinsH. Bushnell, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
Every Mouth StolidT.F. Lockyer Romans 3:9-20
Haman Depravity: its UniversalityC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 3:9-20
Human DepravityJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
Human DepravityJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
Human DepravityRomans 3:9-20
Human DepravityC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 3:9-20
Human Ignorance and PerversityJ. W. Burn.Romans 3:9-20
Immoral Authors and Their Poisonous EffectsLouis Figuier.Romans 3:9-20
Impenitent Men Destitute of HolinessD. A. Clark.Romans 3:9-20
Knowledge of Sin Through the LawR.M. Edgar Romans 3:9-20
Man Under SinJ. Harding, M. A.Romans 3:9-20
Nominal Christians Compared with HeathenJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
None RighteousT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
Poisonous SpeechT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
Practical ErrorJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
Progress in Sin InevitableRomans 3:9-20
Sin as Revealed by Conscience and ScriptureT. Chalmers, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
Sin: Revealed by ConscienceRomans 3:9-20
Sin: Revealed by GraceC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 3:9-20
Superior SinnersH. Varley.Romans 3:9-20
The Importance of Civil Government to SocietyT. Chalmers, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
The Poison of the TongueH. W. Beecher.Romans 3:9-20
The Reign of SinJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 3:9-20
The Sin and Folly of Ignoring GodJ. Foster.Romans 3:9-20
The Throat of an Ungodly Man Compared to an Opened SepulchreJohn Tucker, B. D.Romans 3:9-20
Wickedness in Word and DeedProf. Godet.Romans 3:9-20
A Moralist CondemnedSeeds and Sheaves.Romans 3:19-20
Appeal to the LawChristian HeraldRomans 3:19-20
Justification by Works ImpossibleF. Wayland, D. D.Romans 3:19-20
Law and the LawProf. J. A. Beet.Romans 3:19-20
Legal Justification Impossible BecauseW. Burkitt, M. A.Romans 3:19-20
Man in the Divine JudgmentC. Neil, M. A.Romans 3:19-20
The Authority of the ScripturesH. G. C. Moule, M. A.Romans 3:19-20
The Convincing Tower of the LawS. H. Tyng, D. D.Romans 3:19-20
The Knowledge of Sin by the LawA. Alexander, D. D.Romans 3:19-20
The Knowledge of Sin by the LawJ. Vaughan, M. A.Romans 3:19-20
The Knowledge of Sin by the LawJ. Oswald Dykes, D. D.Romans 3:19-20
The Knowledge of Sin Only by the LawC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 3:19-20
The LawJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 3:19-20
The Law the StandardD. L. Moody.Romans 3:19-20
The Office of the LawD. L. Moody.Romans 3:19-20
Works Cannot JustifyRomans 3:19-20

Here we have a dark picture of human nature in its fallen and unregenerate state. (The Bible view of human nature is more fully enlarged on below, on vers. 21-26.) Here the apostle, as it were, calls up before him the different parts of human nature, and obtains from each of them an admission and an evidence of the moral corruption with which they are tainted.

"My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a different tale,
And every tale convicts me for a villain.
All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all - Guilty! guilty!"

I. A DEPRAVED HEART. "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (ver. 18). There is no motive-power to regulate the life. There is no reverence for God's Law within their spirit. There is no fear of offending the great Judge. There is no filial fear of grieving the heavenly Father. The conscience and heart have become seared and blunted. Remove the fear of God from heart and conscience, and what influence remains to check evil passions and to resist the insidious allurements of temptation? "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."

II. A DEPRAVED UNDERSTANDING. "There is none that understandeth" (ver. 11). It is fashionable in some circles to speak as if it was a sign of weak intellect to be a Christian, to believe in the Bible, or to regard with reverence the Law of God. Yet assuredly it may be claimed without any presumption or prejudice that there has been at least as much of the world's best intellect arrayed on the side of Christianity as on the side of its opponents. If there be credulity anywhere, there is credulity displayed in accepting as scientific truths what very often are pure speculations. If there is weakness anywhere, it would seem to be in disregarding the evidence in nature that points to a great personal and intelligent First Cause, or the evidence in history that points to a wise and overruling Providence. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." It is sin, and not godliness, that is the evidence of a weak and depraved understanding.

III. A DEPRAVED WILL. "There is none that seeketh after God" (ver. 11). Nowhere is the depravity of human nature more painfully shown than in the exercise of the human will. How many deliberately choose evil rather than good! How many, with the experience of others to warn them, deliberately choose impurity rather than purity, intemperance rather than temperance! Life and death are put before them, yet they deliberately choose death. They reject the highest ideal of character, and follow poor and weak and wicked examples. They reject the inspiring hope of heaven and immortality, and only live for worldly pleasure or for worldly gain. They reject the fountain of living water, and seek out for themselves broken cisterns that can hold no water. To all such God appeals, in mercy, to make a right exercise of their will. "Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die?"


1. Untruthfulness. "With their tongues they have used deceit" (ver. 13). Truth is essential to the well-being and happiness of society, to the very existence of commercial dealings. Yet how many there are who "use deceit" as a means of obtaining advantage or profit in business, as a means of obtaining some desirable object of their ambition! We have society deceitfulness, commercial deceitfulness, political deceitfulness. Against all such deceit the Bible sets itself. "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour; for we are members one of another."

2. Slander. "The poison of asps is under their lips" (ver. 13). The sin of evil-speaking is a very widespread one, and it hardly receives sufficient discouragement from Christian people. Men and women who would shrink from doing their neighbour a bodily injury, who would be shocked at the idea of taking his property dishonestly, think it no harm to injure his character and reputation. "The poison of asps is under their lips." "O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united."

3. Profanity. "Whose mouth is full of cursing" (ver. 14). Here is a widespread evil of the present day. Everywhere one hears the profane use of the sacred Name. Just as the suicide acts

"As if the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter," the profane person acts as if it had not been written with the finger of God, "The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain."

V. DEPRAVED LIFE. "Their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known" (vers. 15-17). What a sad but true description of human life in its unregenerate and unchristianized condition! It is but the ordinary picture of what heathen nations were before the gospel entered into them. And where large communities throw off the restraints of religion, is it not what may be witnessed still, even in professedly Christian nations? Where there is no fear of the Law of God, there will be little fear of the law of man. Let the heart and conscience be godless; let the reason and understanding fail to respond to the claims of the Divine Being and of his moral Law; let the will cease to be influenced by heavenly and upward motives; let men in their common speech be accustomed to speak lightly of sacred things and of their neighbour's character and reputation; and the step is but a short one to the disregard of human life and the disregard of human virtue. The nation that ceases to be influenced by the fear of God has entered on the broad way to its own corruption and decay. - C.H.I.

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.
I. ITS CLAIMS — are universal.

II. ITS TEACHINGS — distinct and authoritative.

III. ITS EFFECTS — condemnation, complete and without exception.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

For the most part the word "law" refers to the general principle "Do this and live"; the words "the law," to the historical and literary form in which this principle took shape in the ears, eyes, and thoughts of the Jews.

(Prof. J. A. Beet.)

1. "The things which the law saith" — its holy precepts, solemn sanctions, awful sentences — constitute the instrument of its power. They are the hand which grasps, the arm which conquers the transgressor.

2. The extent of their operation is to "all those who are under the law." Are they obedient? Then it is a means of life and peace. Are they disobedient? Then it is the instrument of their condemnation and death.

3. Its convincing power is displayed either in the day of grace to bring to Christ, or in the day of judgment to banish from Him.

4. It is the agency of the Holy Spirit. In His hands it is living and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, but in itself it is a dead letter.


1. "Do this, and thou shalt live"; but "whosoever offendeth in one point is guilty of all." The law claims an entire, perpetual, and spotless obedience, and in the exercise of its convincing power it compares the sinner's life with the strictness of its demands. It thus brings to view his obliquity by laying down its perfect and unbending rule upon the crookedness of all his conduct. It accuses him of —

(1)Presumptuous sins.

(2)Sins of inadvertence and ignorance.

(3)Secret sins, corrupt thoughts, unholy desires.

(4)Omission of holy duties.

(5)Deficiencies in the spirit which prompts to action.

(6)A corrupt nature in a state of rebellion against God.

2. "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." By this it convinceth the sinner of his exposure to the wrath of God. The condemnation of the ungodly is not future but present. The transgressor is "dead already," and though, like a convict in his cell, he has a respite before execution, his case is to be regarded as altogether disposed of. He may be ignorant of his condition, and may deny it; but this is one of the things that the law saith, and its work is to make the sinner believe it, and behold his danger. But though under this operation he groans in anguish, he is no more in condemnation than before. He was asleep, but is now awakened. The lightning which makes a benighted traveller see the precipice in front of him does not make the danger, it only reveals it.

3. "Moses describeth the righteousness which is by the law, that the man which doeth these things shall live by them." "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." By these "things" the law convinces of the impossibility of self-justification.(1) It proposes but two possible methods whereby man shall be just with God: it offers life to those who have perfectly obeyed its precepts; it presents liberty to all who have fully endured its penalties. Under which can there be hope for man?

(a)He can never obtain acceptance by his obedience — for there is imperfection and defilement in every duty.

(b)He cannot be justified by making satisfaction for disobedience, for no satisfaction can be received short of the entire penalty — everlasting death.(2) The convinced sinner sees this hopeless state, and is compelled to renounce all effort at legal justification. A knowledge of pardon and life must come from the revelation of a Redeemer who, as the sinner's surety, has obeyed the precepts and endured the penalty.

II. THE PERSONS TO WHICH IT MUST BE APPLIED. "To them that are under the law" — the Jew, of course, but all mankind are born under the obligations of the law, and the things it saith, it saith to the whole family of man. And if there be not an individual who is released from the obligation of loving God with all his heart, there is not one who is not justly accused of transgression, and therefore condemned. "All have sinned," etc. The proper operation of the law as a convincing power is, therefore, upon every human being.


1. "That every mouth may be stopped." Unconvinced sinners complain of the unreasonable strictness and severity of the Divine commandments, and invent a thousand excuses for sin and pleas of exemption from punishment. But when the law discharges its convincing office, the justice of God became so apparent, guilt so clear, that they are incapable of complaint or excuse.

2. "And all the world become guilty before God" — consciously and penitently.

(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)

Christian Herald.
The new Collector of the Port of New York is not harassed by disputes as his predecessors were. He has had all the books regulating the customs service placed within his reach, and when appealed to for his decision his clear grey eyes brighten as he replies: "The law says so and so about that question, does it not?" He is generally answered in the affirmative, and without more ado he dismisses his visitor, saying: "The law on the subject was made for me to follow, and follow it I shall."

(Christian Herald.)

I feel profoundly that that word "authority" is a vital word in all considerations about the Scriptures. There are controversies about inspiration and its mode, controversies which are legion, but they may circle, like waves around a rock, round the question of authority. That which separates the Bible from all other books, however elevating, is, after all, not so much that it contains such treasures of historic information, of poetic beauty, of moral analysis, as that it contains the authority of God and the certainty of His Word. Yes, it is this, after all. There are other books, for which God be thanked, written in other ages, which have had their influence on the elevation of man, but the difference between them and this Book is, that no conceivable amount of information or influence from them, as such, is binding on the conscience; but we claim for this Book that when we have once ascertained the meaning of it, it binds us. It is not merely attractive and elevating — it is all this — but it is binding upon us; it says in the name of a greater than itself, "Believe this, because I say it; do this, because I command it."

(H. G. C. Moule, M. A.)

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.

1. This may be easily illustrated by a reference to Scripture.(1) It declares that the moral law, under which we have been created, commands us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.(2) It also asserts that man is destitute of that love; and that, in the place of it, he cherishes a spirit of enmity to his Maker; and the constitution of civil society everywhere proceeds upon the assumption that men are selfish, faithless, violent, and cruel, and laws are everywhere made to counteract those hateful tendencies.(3) It reveals to us that our first parents disobeyed God, and transmitted a sinful taint to their posterity. Thus we see that sin is not an accident to, but a universal fact in, human nature. "By one man, sin entered into the world," etc. Such are the declarations of Scripture, and to the truth of them our own consciousness bears undoubted testimony. As soon as any one of us begins to compare himself with the law under which he is created, or even with the imperfect moral standard held forth by his own conscience, he acknowledges himself a sinner, coming short of the praise of God. Nor does anyone find himself alone in this condition. He is surrounded by just such beings, an inhabitant of a world lying in wickedness.


1. The first expedient, which seems universally to have suggested itself, was the offering of expiatory victims. But such an expedient as this inevitably loses its efficacy as soon as man listens to the voice of his own consciousness. He then feels that guilt is a personal thing, and that he himself is a sinner. It is he, in his own person, that must answer at the bar of offended justice. Guilt cannot be transferred to a brute, nor can it at will be laid upon the conscience of another. Hence the worshipper returned from the sacrifice unsatisfied and unblessed. The Jew confessed that it was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin. The pagan retired from the flowing libation and the smoking hecatomb bearing about within him a conscience still burdened with the guilt of unpardoned sin.

2. Another expedient has been to offer reparation to the violated law by repentance and reformation. But if this doctrine be true —(1) It must proceed upon an entire change of the moral law. The law which the Scriptures have revealed is, that the wages of sin is death. To declare, however, that if a man repents, he is entitled to justification, is to introduce another law, and to declare not that sin of itself is deserving of death, but only sin unrepented of. Now, I ask, where do we find the authority for announcing such a law? Revelation does not teach it. No government on earth could be administered upon this principle.(2) It would lead to new views of Divine justice. If a sinner can claim justification at the hands of God in virtue of repentance, then there would seem but little distinction to exist between innocence and guilt. He who had kept the whole law without fault, and he who had broken every commandment through life, and at last repented, would both stand in the same moral condition before God; both, on the ground of their own doings, being entitled to be treated as innocent.(3) It would lead us to believe that God Himself entertained no moral displeasure against sin, but only against sin unrepented of. The announcement of His law would seem to be, that holiness and sin repented of were equally lovely in His sight, inasmuch as they were by His law entitled to the same reward. The Deity would thus seem to entertain less abhorrence to sin than the penitent himself.(4) It would defeat its own object; for, were this the law, repentance would be impossible. Repentance can only arise from a conviction of the moral turpitude of sin; it is an abhorrence of the act purely on account of its moral wrong, But, upon the supposition in question, sin itself is not wrong, or odious in the sight of God, but only sin unrepented of. But, if the act itself be not morally detestable, of what is there for us to repent? We are to be penitent not for the act, but for our impenitence, while penitence itself is impossible, because the act is not in itself worthy of condemnation. To me, then, the Scriptures seem to assert that repentance can offer no atonement for sin. If the law be holy, and just, and good, it is holy, and just, and good, that it be enforced. If a man repent of his sins, this is right; but under a system of law, this can make no reparation for past transgression. The man confesses that the law is just; but this confession does not render it less just. He acknowledges that he deserves to perish; but this does not alter his desert. "Therefore, by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified," etc.


1. To reveal this great and astonishing truth is the great design of revealed religion. Natural religion intimated to us our sin, and dimly foreshadowed our doom. But from natural religion itself no news of reconciliation could proceed. It is the gospel alone that brings life and immortality to light.

2. For the announcement of this great central truth, the whole previous history of our world was one magnificent preparation.

3. Although, then, by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified, yet we may not despair, "for our help is laid upon One that is mighty," One who is able to save to the uttermost everyone that believeth.

(F. Wayland, D. D.)


1. Depraved by original corruption.

2. Obnoxious by actual transgression.



1. He owes all possible obedience to the law as a creature.

2. But by performing all his debts as a creature he can never pay his debts as a transgressor.

3. Christ alone is able to justify him.

(W. Burkitt, M. A.)

No matter how much he (Luther) studied and prayed, no matter how severely he castigated himself with fasting and watching, he found no peace to his soul. Even when he imagined that he had satisfied the law, he often despaired of getting rid of his sins and of securing the grace of God.

Dr. Rogers, of Albany, gives an account of the conversion of a moralist by a dream. The man thought he died, and, coming to the door of heaven, saw over it, "None can enter here but those who have led a strictly moral life." He felt perfectly able on that condition, but was stopped by one and another whom in some way he had wronged. He was in despair, till the words over the door gradually faded away, and in their place came, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." He awoke, and realised that without forgiveness through an atonement there was no hope for man.

(Seeds and Sheaves.)

In His sight
In the judgment of God — an addition of solemn import! The all-searching Eye will try our inward as well as outward acts. None can stand out of Christ the Divine scrutiny. The world may canonise and immortalise, extol and deify her heroes; but God will perceive in a moment their defects, like the artist who, when a piece of marble had been selected as perfectly suitable for his sculpturing, in an instant detected a slight flaw that had escaped all notice, rendering, in his eyes, the block useless; and he refused to employ his time and his tools, his pains and his genius, upon it.

(C. Neil, M. A.)

For by the law is the knowledge of sin

1. Sin has no existence but in relation to the law; for "where there is no law, there is no transgression." The law may be compared to a straight rule. Sin is the deviation from this rule, and the enormity of the sin may be measured by the degree of obliquity in any act.

2. Laws are of different kinds, according to the nature of their subjects. The universe is under taw, for the Creator is a God of order. But our inquiry relates to the law given to man, as an accountable moral agent. This law was originally written on the human heart, but, as through the prevalence of ignorance and error, this law has been greatly defaced; it pleased God to make a full revelation of it, under two great commandments, enjoining love to God and our neighbour. But as the spiritual and perfect nature of the law was misapprehended by the Jews, and many of the precepts were set aside by false glosses, our Lord gave its true interpretation.

3. Many entertain very inadequate ideas of the nature and obligations of the law.(1) By some it is believed that its strictness is now relaxed, and that a more indulgent rule has succeeded. But no conclusion is more certain than the immutable nature of the law. It arises from the nature of God, and the relation of man to Him. As God is infinitely holy, He never can require less holiness in His creatures than they are capable of. The idea of bringing down the law to adapt it to the ability of fallen man is absurd.(2) Antinomians hold, that in consequence of Christ's perfect obedience, the law has no demands on those in whose place He obeyed. This is a gross abuse of a cardinal doctrine. And if the thing were true, it would be no privilege, but a real detriment to the believer; for he finds that the keeping of the commandments of God is attended with a great reward.(3) Others, again, entertain the opinion that the law was altered and improved by our Lord; and they refer to the Sermon on the Mount. But the alteration is not in the law itself, but in the interpretation of the law. Reason dictates that a rational, choosing agent should employ all his faculties, and direct all his actions, to the glory of his Creator; and as this end can in no other way be attained than by obeying the will of God, therefore the manifestation of the Divine will must be the law of all rational creatures.

4. That the law of God requires perfect obedience is self-evident. To suppose that any law could be satisfied by an imperfect obedience involves the absurdity that the law requires something which it does not require. If it should be alleged that uniform perfection of obedience ought not to be insisted on, since man is a fallible, erring creature, I would reply, that if any indulgence to sin be allowed, there can be no limit fixed to which it should be extended. Such a principle would destroy the obligation of the moral law. Again, these frailties belong not to our nature, as it came perfect from the hand of the Creator, but belong to our sinful nature, to which a holy law can show no indulgence. The ground of difficulty is in our depraved nature, which has lost all relish for the service of God. To a soul rightly constituted, the most intense exercise of holy affection is so far from being felt as a burden or task, that it affords the sweetest pleasure of which we ever partake. To be perfectly obedient to the commandments of God is to be completely happy. Surely no one ought to complain of being required to pursue his own greatest happiness.


1. If our actions had always been conformable to the precepts of God, the closest application of that law would produce no conviction of sin. And that such perfection of obedience is possible to human nature is manifest by the example of Christ.

2. Human nature may be compared to a complicated machine, which has within it powerful springs to keep it in operation. But such a machine requires a balance or regulator, which may preserve all the parts in their proper places, and give due energy and direction to every part. If the balance wheel be taken away, the machine loses none of its power, but its action becomes irregular, and no longer subserves the purpose for which it was put in motion. It moves, it may be, more rapidly than before, but to its own ruin. So it is with man. He is an agent, possessing powers, appetites, affections, and passions which require to be regulated and properly directed; otherwise, their most powerful action will be of a ruinous character. Two things are necessary to give harmony and a right direction to the complex faculties and affections of man. The first is, light; the second, love — an enlightened conscience, and uniform and constant love to God. But when sin was introduced, the mind was blinded, conscience misdirected, and the love of God in the soul was extinct.

3. Although the mind of man has fallen into an awful state of blindness and disorder, yet conscience is not obliterated: as far as it has light, it still remonstrates against sin. Happily some actions are intuitively seen to be morally wrong; but in regard to a large part of sinful acts, or omissions, most men remain ignorant of them, because they know not the extent and spirituality of the law. Mere theoretical knowledge of the law is not sufficient: it requires the convincing light of the Holy Spirit to shine in upon the conscience, and to cause the mind to view itself, as it were, in the mirror of God's holy law. This conviction by the law is the common preparatory work before mercy is bestowed.Conclusion:

1. Let us endeavour to get clear views of the extent, spirituality, and purity of the moral law, in order that we may know something of the multitude and malignity of our sins. And, as all true spiritual knowledge is from the Holy Ghost, we should incessantly pray for this inestimable blessing.

2. As the law convicts every man of sin, justification by it is impossible; for even one sin would render it impossible for the transgressor to receive a sentence of acquittal; how much more impossible is it when our sins are literally innumerable!

3. If the law discovers sin of every kind to be a base and odious thing, we should be solicitous to be cleansed from its defilement; and, in order to this, should come often to the fountain for sin and uncleanness, opened by the death of Christ.

4. A spiritual knowledge of the law is the true source of evangelical repentance.

5. The knowledge of sin, produced by the law, will have a tendency to make the true penitent desirous of the perfect holiness of heaven.

6. The most important benefit of the knowledge of sin, by the law, is, that it shows us our absolute need of a better righteousness than our own, and impels us to look for salvation to the Cross of Christ.

(A. Alexander, D. D.)

"Sin," in the New Testament, means, literally, "missing that which is aimed at." A sin done for the sake of happiness never brings happiness; and if man's true aim is the glory of God, certainly no sin ever reaches that mark. "Sin is the transgression of the law," for if there were no "law," there would be no "transgression." "Transgression" is a stepping over a certain line, and the only line is "the law."


1. The natural "law" of conscience. By this the heathen are governed — for they, "having not the law, are a law unto themselves," etc. The transgressors of this law will be "beaten with few stripes."

2. The Old Testament "law," which is chiefly negative. "Do not." This law is higher than the law of nature, more clear, minute, stringent.

3. But above both there is the "law" of love — the law of the gospel. God loves you, love Him back, and show your love by obedience.

II. AS THESE LAWS RISE IN THEIR CHARACTER, SO DO THEY ALSO IN THEIR OBLIGATION UPON US; and the sins committed against them grow in the same proportion. By the higher standard we shall be judged! Now I do not speak of the grosser sins forbidden by the Ten Commandments, but of such as appear, to some, almost to be no sins at all, but which, measured by the law of the gospel, are perhaps most grievous to God. As is the light, so is the shadow; and the comparatively small sin of a son grieves a father more than the greatest sin of a stranger.From this point of view, then —

1. It must be a sin in a Christian not to be happy. For this must be because you do not trust the Father, who has said that your sins were "blotted out."

2. Or, if believing that you love and are loved by God, you are anxious, you not only disobey a command, but question a Father's care and promise.

3. Or, if your religion is only a religion of fear, obedience without affection, it is in God's sight worth nothing, for "Love is the fulfilling of the law." Therefore it is sin.

4. Or, if you love the world as much as you love God, how can the great God who says, "Give Me thy heart" — not a part of it — be satisfied? And if He is not satisfied that is a sin.

III. IF YOU WOULD MEASURE SIN, CALCULATE IT IN EDEN, OR ON MOUNT CALVARY. In Eden, one bit of forbidden fruit ruined the world! On Calvary, it needed the death of the Son of God to repair the wreck. Remember this the next time you are tempted to sin. Think — "If I do that sin, it will cost the blood of the Son of God to wash it out." That is the law of heaven; and by that law we know sin.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The wife of a drunkard once found her husband in a filthy condition, with torn clothes, matted hair, bruised face, asleep in the kitchen, having come home from a drunken revel. She sent for a photographer, and had a portrait of him taken in all his wretched appearance, and placed it on the mantel beside another portrait taken at the time of his marriage, which showed him handsome and well dressed, as he had been in other days. When he became sober he saw the two pictures, and awakened to a consciousness of his condition, from which he arose to a better life. Now, the office of the law is not to save men, but to show them their true state as compared with the Divine standard. It is like a glass, in which one seeth "what manner of man he is."

(D. L. Moody.)

When we are told what we ought to do, we learn that we are not doing as we ought.

1. The faintest spark of natural conscience in a savage bosom serves this end at least, that the barbarian's grosser acts of treachery or cruelty seem evil even to himself. The educated conscience of an old Greek or Roman imposed on him a severer standard and made him ashamed of less flagrant crimes. Moses' nobler code, given by Jehovah Himself, trained the Hebrew people by degrees to regard as sinful practices which neighbouring nations called innocent, and exalted every instinctive vice of the blood into the express transgression of a recorded statute. The New Testament morality has made the modern conscience quicker than ever to detect, and louder than ever in condemning what is false, dishonourable, impure, and ungenerous. Thus each addition to revealed law widens men's knowledge of what is sinful, and pushes forward the frontier of the forbidden a little nearer to that ideal line which God's nature prescribes.

2. Again, when a law has succeeded in educating one's conscience to recognise that what is forbidden is in itself evil, that what is commanded is right, there follows a certain desire to keep that law — an effort even after keeping it. We cannot approve what is good and not wish to pursue it. The moral pressure thus put upon a man's natural likings serves, in many an instance, to reveal to himself his moral impotence. The good he fain would do in his better moods he fails to do in the moment of temptation; and when the recoil comes, and desire has burnt itself down to white cold ash, and the law awakes afresh within the conscience to judge the man for that weak and wicked yielding to an improper desire, then comes a new and very bitter knowledge of sin. It is the knowledge of sin as a strong thing, stronger than I am — a hateful, hostile power, an alien despot, that has entrenched itself within my nature, and lords it there over everything that is wholesome in me.

3. Suppose, further, that a man is become so far a creature of the law that through long education he has been trained to walk contentedly within its close fences — he has got used to curb his temper and choke down his passions, and always to wear a smooth decorous face; suppose he is thus all that the law can make him, irreproachable in the presence of society, fair spoken, scrupulous, "as touching the law blameless" — why then he is only on the road to a still more profound knowledge of Sin. For such a man, if he is honest and thorough, will admit to himself, that deep down beneath this blameless exterior the old passions will not be quenched, nor the old self-will slain. He will admit that in doing violence to his tastes he has not changed them. He has merely drilled himself into outward prosperity, but at the root remains ungodly. Is it unfair to say that such righteousness is little better than a mask, useful in society, but sure to be detected by the judgment of Heaven? that the heart of such men resembles a volcano over which the lava has in the meantime cooled? What a terrific knowledge of sin is here! What a discovery of the incurableness of the heart's evil! What a revelation of the impotence of law and the unattainableness of genuine righteousness under any system of legal repression! Surely by the law, do as you will, there is no path to a satisfying righteousness in the sight of God, but only to a deeper and ever deeper knowledge of sin!

(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)

When Chicago was a small town it was incorporated and made a city. There was one clause in the new law that no man should be a policeman who was not a certain height — five feet six inches, let us say. When the Commissioners got into power, they advertised for men as candidates, and in the advertisement they stated that no man need apply who could not bring good credentials to recommend him. I remember going past the office one day, and there was a crowd of them waiting to get in. They quite blocked up the side of the street; and they were comparing notes as to their chances of success. One says to another, "I have got a good letter of recommendation from the mayor, and one from the supreme judge." Another says, "And I have got a good letter from Senator So-and-so. I'm sure to get in." The two men come on together, and lay their letters down on the Commissioners' desk. "Well," says the officials, "you have certainly a good many letters, but we won't read them till we measure you." Ah! they forgot all about that. So the first man is measured, and he is only five feet. "No chance for you, sir; the law says the men must be five feet six inches, and you don't come up to the standard." The other says, "Well, my chance is a good deal better than his. I am a good bit taller than he is." He begins to measure himself by the other man. That is what people are always doing, measuring themselves by others. Measure yourself by the law of God, and if you will do that you will find that you have come short. He goes up to the officers and they measure him. He is five feet five inches and nine-tenths. "No good," they tell him; "you're not up to the standard." "But I'm only one-tenth of an inch short," he remonstrates. "It's no matter," say they, "there's no difference." He goes with the man who was five feet. One comes short six inches, and the other only one tenth of an inch, but the law cannot be changed. And the law of God is, that no man shall go into the kingdom of heaven with one sin on him. He that has broken the least law is guilty of all.

(D. L. Moody.)

All that the law does is to show us how sinful we are. Paul has been quoting from the sacred Scriptures; and truly they shed a lurid light upon the condition of human nature. This light can show us our sin; but it cannot take it away. The law of the Lord is like a looking glass. Now, a looking glass is a capital thing for finding out where the spots are on your face; but you cannot wash in a looking glass, you cannot get rid of the spots by looking in the glass. The law is intended to show a man how much he needs cleansing; but the law cannot cleanse him. The law proves that we are condemned, but it does not bring us our pardon.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Paul, Romans
Able, Brings, Conscious, Declared, Deeds, Flesh, Ground, Human, Justified, Law, Obedience, Observing, Rather, Righteous, Righteousness, Sight, Simply, Sin, Sure, Wherefore, Works
1. The Jews prerogative;
3. which they have not lost;
9. howbeit the law convinces them also of sin;
20. therefore no one is justified by the law;
28. but all, without difference, by faith, only;
31. and yet the law is not abolished.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Romans 3:20

     5031   knowledge, of sin
     5380   law, and gospel
     5769   behaviour
     6183   ignorance, of God
     6646   eternal life, gift
     6678   justification, Christ's work
     6740   returning to God
     8736   evil, warnings against
     8825   self-righteousness, and gospel

Romans 3:1-20

     7505   Jews, the

Romans 3:9-20

     6156   fall, of humanity

Romans 3:10-20

     6632   conviction

Romans 3:19-20

     5816   consciousness
     8032   trust, lack of

Romans 3:19-23

     5851   excuse

Romans 3:19-24

     6512   salvation, necessity and basis

Romans 3:20-22

     6679   justification, results

Romans 3:20-23

     6677   justification, necessity

Romans 3:20-24

     8774   legalism

Romans 3:20-28

     8157   righteousness, as faith

No Difference
'There is no difference.'--ROMANS iii. 22. The things in which all men are alike are far more important than those in which they differ. The diversities are superficial, the identities are deep as life. Physical processes and wants are the same for everybody. All men, be they kings or beggars, civilised or savage, rich or poor, wise or foolish, cultured or illiterate, breathe the same breath, hunger and thirst, eat and drink, sleep, are smitten by the same diseases, and die at last the same death.
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Law Established through Faith
Discourse I "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: Yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31. 1. St. Paul, having the beginning of this Epistle laid down his general proposition, namely, that "the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;" -- the powerful means, whereby God makes every believer a partaker of present and eternal salvation; -- goes on to show, that there is no other way under heaven whereby men can be saved. He speaks particularly
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

God Justified, Though Man Believes Not
"For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, and every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."--Romans 3:3,4. The seed of Israel had great privileges even before the coming of Christ. God had promised by covenant that they should have those privileges; and they did enjoy them. They had a revelation and a light divine, while all the world
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892

Justice Satisfied
WHEN THE SOUL is seriously impressed with the conviction of its guilt, when terror and alarm get hold upon it concerning the inevitable consequences of its sin, the soul is afraid of God. It dreads at that time every attribute of divinity. But most of all the sinner is afraid of God's justice. "Ah," saith he to himself, "God is a just God; and if so, how can he pardon my sins? for my iniquities cry aloud for punishment, and my transgressions demand that his right hand should smite me low. How can
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859

"That the Righteousness of the Law Might be Fulfilled in Us. "
Rom. viii. 4.--"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us." God having a great design to declare unto the world both his justice and mercy towards men, he found out this mean most suitable and proportioned unto it, which is here spoken of in the third verse,--to send his own Son to bear the punishment of sin, that the righteousness of the law might be freely and graciously fulfilled in sinners. And, indeed, it was not imaginable by us, how he could declare both in the salvation
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

How Christ is the Way in General, "I am the Way. "
We come now to speak more particularly to the words; and, first, Of his being a way. Our design being to point at the way of use-making of Christ in all our necessities, straits, and difficulties which are in our way to heaven; and particularly to point out the way how believers should make use of Christ in all their particular exigencies; and so live by faith in him, walk in him, grow up in him, advance and march forward toward glory in him. It will not be amiss to speak of this fulness of Christ
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

How Christ is Made Use of for Justification as a Way.
What Christ hath done to purchase, procure, and bring about our justification before God, is mentioned already, viz. That he stood in the room of sinners, engaging for them as their cautioner, undertaking, and at length paying down the ransom; becoming sin, or a sacrifice for sin, and a curse for them, and so laying down his life a ransom to satisfy divine justice; and this he hath made known in the gospel, calling sinners to an accepting of him as their only Mediator, and to a resting upon him for
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

The Necessity of Other Preparatory Acts Besides Faith
1. HERETICAL ERRORS AND THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH.--Martin Luther, to quiet his conscience, evolved the notion that faith alone justifies and that the Catholic doctrine of the necessity of good works is pharisaical and derogatory to the merits of Jesus Christ. This teaching was incorporated into the symbolic books of the Lutherans(811) and adopted by Calvin.(812) It has been called one of the two basic errors of Protestantism. The Tridentine Council solemnly condemns it as follows: "If anyone saith
Joseph Pohle—Grace, Actual and Habitual

"Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."--Rom. iii. 24. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that true conversion consists of these two parts: the dying of the old man, and the rising again of the new. This last should be noticed. The Catechism says not that the new life originates in conversion, but that it arises in conversion. That which arises must exist before. Else how could it arise? This agrees with our statement that regeneration precedes conversion,
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Certainty of Our Justification.
"Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."--Rom. iii. 24. The foregoing illustrations shed unexpected light upon the fact that God justifies the ungodly, and not him who is actually just in himself; and upon the word of Christ: "Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." (John xv. 3) They illustrate the significant fact that God does not determine our status according to what we are, but by the status to which He assigns us He determines
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

'Being justified freely by his grace.' Rom 3:34. Q-xxxiii: WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION? A: It is an act of God's free grace, whereby he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, and received by faith alone. Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Christianity. An error about justification is dangerous, like a defect in a foundation. Justification by Christ is a spring of the water of life. To have the poison of corrupt doctrine
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

A Great Deal for Me to Read Hast Thou Sent...
1. A great deal for me to read hast thou sent, my dearest brother Consentius: a great deal for me to read: to the which while I am preparing an answer, and am drawn off first by one, then by another, more urgent occupation, the year has measured out its course, and has thrust me into such straits, that I must answer in what sort I may, lest the time for sailing being now favorable, and the bearer desirous to return, I should too long detain him. Having therefore unrolled and read through all that
St. Augustine—Against Lying

Nuremberg Sept. 15, 1530. To the Honorable and Worthy N. , My Favorite Lord and Friend.
Grace and peace in Christ, honorable, worthy and dear Lord and friend. I received your writing with the two questions or queries requesting my response. In the first place, you ask why I, in the 3rd chapter of Romans, translated the words of St. Paul: "Arbitramur hominem iustificari ex fide absque operibus" as "We hold that the human will be justified without the works of the law but only by faith." You also tell me that the Papists are causing a great fuss because St. Paul's text does not contain
Dr. Martin Luther—An Open Letter on Translating

This Conflict None Experience in Themselves, Save Such as War on the Side Of...
7. This conflict none experience in themselves, save such as war on the side of the virtues, and war down the vices: nor doth any thing storm the evil of lust, save the good of Continence. But there are, who, being utterly ignorant of the law of God, account not evil lusts among their enemies, and through wretched blindness being slaves to them, over and above think themselves also blessed, by satisfying them rather than taming them. But whoso through the Law have come to know them, ("For through
St. Augustine—On Continence

V. The conditions of this attainment. 1. A state of entire sanctification can never be attained by an indifferent waiting of God's time. 2. Nor by any works of law, or works of any kind, performed in your own strength, irrespective of the grace of God. By this I do not mean, that, were you disposed to exert your natural powers aright, you could not at once obey the law in the exercise of your natural strength, and continue to do so. But I do mean, that as you are wholly indisposed to use your natural
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology

Christ is represented in the gospel as sustaining to men three classes of relations. 1. Those which are purely governmental. 2. Those which are purely spiritual. 3. Those which unite both these. We shall at present consider him as Christ our justification. I shall show,-- I. What gospel justification is not. There is scarcely any question in theology that has been encumbered with more injurious and technical mysticism than that of justification. Justification is the pronouncing of one just. It may
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology

We come now to the consideration of a very important feature of the moral government of God; namely, the atonement. In discussing this subject, I will-- I. Call attention to several well-established principles of government. 1. We have already seen that moral law is not founded in the mere arbitrary will of God or of any other being, but that it has its foundation in the nature and relations of moral agents, that it is that rule of action or of willing which is imposed on them by the law of their
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology

Its Evidence
In Romans 3:28 the Apostle Paul declared "that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," and then produces the case of Abraham to prove his assertion. But the Apostle James, from the case of the same Abraham, draws quite another conclusion, saying, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). This is one of the "contradictions in the Bible" to which infidels appeal in support of their unbelief. But the Christian, however difficult he finds
Arthur W. Pink—The Doctrine of Justification

The Impossibility of Failure.
"But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak: for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye showed toward His name, in that ye ministered unto the saints, and still do minister. And we desire that each one of you may show the same diligence unto the fulness of hope even to the end: that ye be not sluggish, but imitators of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to
Thomas Charles Edwards—The Expositor's Bible: The Epistle to the Hebrews

What does God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for our sin? Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means, whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption. I begin with the first, faith in Jesus Christ. Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.' Rom 3: 25. The great privilege in the text is, to have Christ for a propitiation; which is not only to free us from God's wrath, but to
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Christian Behavior
Being the fruits of true Christianity: Teaching husbands, wives, parents, children, masters, servants, etc., how to walk so as to please God. With a word of direction to all backsliders. Advertisement by the Editor This valuable practical treatise, was first published as a pocket volume about the year 1674, soon after the author's final release from his long and dangerous imprisonment. It is evident from the concluding paragraph that he considered his liberty and even his life to be still in a very
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Gospel the Power of God
'I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.'--ROMANS i. 16. To preach the Gospel in Rome had long been the goal of Paul's hopes. He wished to do in the centre of power what he had done in Athens, the home of wisdom; and with superb confidence, not in himself, but in his message, to try conclusions with the strongest thing in the world. He knew its power well, and was not appalled. The danger was an attraction to his chivalrous
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Loftiness of God
ISAIAH lvii. 15. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. This is a grand text; one of the grandest in the whole Old Testament; one of those the nearest to the spirit of the New. It is full of Gospel--of good news: but it is not the whole Gospel. It does not tell us the whole character
Charles Kingsley—The Good News of God

The Pharisee and the Publican
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself; God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the Publican, standing afar off would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.-- Luke, xviii. 10-13. In the beginning
John Bunyan—The Pharisee And Publican

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