Lesson 3

The Human Condition

(Romans 1:18-3:20)
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Introduction: Have you ever thought about how much a belief in righteousness by faith shapes your entire view of God? Consider that righteousness by faith (grace) means that all human effort is flawed. Only God is perfect. This not only says something about how I am saved, but it says something about how I should view others. It says something about how I should view God's role in the universe. Our study this week about the "human condition" starts us down this road of considering the larger view of grace. Let's dive in and learn what the Bible has to teach us!

  1. No Excuse


    1. Read Romans 1:18-20. Paul describes two things. First, he describes truth suppressors. Second, he describes why the truth cannot be suppressed. How do humans attempt to suppress the truth? (By their godlessness and wickedness.)


      1. Do you see this in society today? (I worry that wickedness is gaining the upper hand. Not only are Biblical principles dealing with life and sexual relations scorned, but there is a growing movement to suppress the speech of those who believe in Biblical principles.)


        1. Do you see a rise in "godlessness?" (This has been surveyed. The number of people who do not believe in God is on the rise.)


      2. What do these verses say that gives us hope? (The truth about God cannot be successfully suppressed. The existence of God and His divine nature are clear in His creation. The idea that the heavens and earth came about by chance and natural selection is ludicrous. For the most part, humans can simply observe and describe the laws of nature, they cannot explain how they work. It defies logic to think that such incredibly complex laws came about by chance. If they did come about by chance, what a stupid group we humans are if we cannot figure out how they work.)


      3. Does any human have an excuse for not believing in God? (No. The Bible says that there are no excuses.)


    2. Read Romans 1:21-23. What have illogical humans refused to do? (They did not thank God or give glory to Him.)


      1. What is the result of not acknowledging God as the Creator of the Universe? (This muddles the mind of the atheist. Smart people do stupid things like creating images that look like humans or animals and then they worship them.)


        1. In my neighborhood, I don't see any one bowing down to an idol. Have humans become smart enough to at least not do that? (The atheist's failure of logic is not recognizing God. I think human logic, human theories, have become the new idols. We don't create an image that looks like a person or animal, we create an image on paper or electronically in the form of an argument against God.)


      2. Consider how the idea of grace fits in here. If we think our works have something to do with our salvation, are we like those who make idols with their own hands?


    3. Read Romans 1:24-25. What is the result of rejecting the Creator God? (God "gave them over" to sexual impurity.)


    4. Read Romans 1:26-27. What specific sexual sin is mentioned that arises from rejecting God? (Homosexuality.)


      1. Why do you think that Paul mentions homosexual sex as the natural result of rejecting God? Why does it follow worshiping images that look like animals and humans? (Paul argues for common sense. How can you look at the creation and not believe that there is a God? How can a human worship something that he made? How can humans look at the way males and females were designed and conclude that homosexual sex is normal?)


      2. What do you think Paul means when he says that those who engage in homosexual sex "receive in themselves the due penalty?" Is there some automatic punishment that is inherent in this sin?


    5. Read Romans 1:28. What does this tell us is at the bottom of a "depraved mind?" (A mind that does not "think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God." If you do not know God, if you do not want to know and understand God's will for you, then your mind becomes depraved.)


    6. Read Romans 1:29-31. As you look over this list, do you see any of your sins mentioned?


      1. Paul seems to be describing a slide into evil. First, rejecting God and replacing Him with idols. Next, homosexual sex. Next, this long list of sins. Does this mean that the sins in the long list are worse than homosexuality? (There is a world-wide debate over normalizing homosexual sex under secular law. If Paul is telling us that homosexual sex is no worse than being "insolent, arrogant and boastful," then the question of what the law should prohibit becomes a lot more complex.)


    7. Read Romans 1:32. What sin is described here? (It is also a sin to "approve of those who practice" sin. We cannot be in a position of approving the practice of sin.)


  2. No Judgment


    1. Read Romans 2:1. When I asked you if you recognized one of your sins in that long list of sins, what would Paul expect you to answer? (Paul says we have some of those sins in our life.)


      1. Can we call sin by its right name? Or, is that the same as "passing judgment?" (We can call sin by its right name. Indeed, Paul just did. What we cannot do is "pass judgment on someone else.")


        1. Why not? (Because we do the same things.)


      2. Remember in the introduction we talked about a larger view of grace? How does a true understanding of grace help us in dealing with sin in others? (When we clearly understand the grandeur of God, and the pitiful nature of humans, we have "no excuse" for passing judgment on others because we are then "condemning" our sinful self!)


    2. Read Romans 2:2-3. What should those who pass judgment on others expect? (That God will judge them for their sins. We must acknowledge that we are sinful humans.)


    3. Read Romans 2:4. For a very long time I've been a part of local church leadership. In the "old days" we disciplined those engaged in adultery. I recall reading the church handbook which said that the purpose of the discipline was to shock the sinner into repenting and returning to right behavior. What does this verse say is God's approach? (It appears to say just the opposite: "God's kindness leads you toward repentance.")


      1. Notice the hard line here: if we do not understand that grace reflects God's "kindness, tolerance and patience" towards us, we are showing "contempt" for God!


    4. Read Romans 2:5. What stubborn and unrepentant attitude is Paul referring to? (The last few verses refer to passing judgment on others. Have you ever thought that passing judgment on others when you are a sinner makes you "unrepentant" and one who "stores up wrath?")


      1. Some may answer that Paul previously wrote about those who deny the existence of God. Is Paul writing about them when he promises a coming wrath? (Notice the common core here. Those who refuse to acknowledge God are similar to those who refuse to acknowledge the grace of God. Both positions show contempt for His power.)


  3. How Big is Grace?


    1. Read Romans 2:6-11. Now read Romans 3:21-24. Has Paul forgotten in chapter 3 what he wrote in chapter 2? Are these not diametrically opposed statements? Is Paul now showing contempt for the power of God?


      1. Let's see if we can reconcile Paul's statements. Assume that you do not have a "grace" attitude and you think you are better than others. Will you feel the need to repent? (No.)


      2. Instead, if you realize that you are mired in sin just like these others, will you repent? (I think so. Grace drives us to our knees and causes us to want to bring glory to God.)


    2. Read Romans 3:10-12. If God's judgment is based on good works, where do we stand? (This proves that Paul cannot be arguing for righteousness by works in Romans 2:6-10.)


    3. Read Romans 3:19-20. How does this fit into the "do not judge" section of the previous chapter? (This shows us that grace is not simply a method of salvation, it is an attitude that permeates everything we do. Grace teaches us not to judge others because we cannot survive a true judgment.)
    4. Read Romans 3:27-28. What place is there for an attitude of superiority for our righteous life? What place is there for an attitude of judgment? (There is no place for this. We are justified by grace alone. We are all terrible people. Grace teaches us gratitude for what Jesus has done for us.)


    5. Friend, will you examine your heart for a judgmental attitude? I confess that as I was writing this lesson, I had to stop and ask for forgiveness as I recalled times when I was judgmental towards others.


  4. Next week: Justification by Faith.

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