Romans 3:16


Friday, 8 March 2013

Destruction and misery are in their ways; Romans 3:16

This verse is a quote from the second half of Isaiah 59:7 –

Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood;

Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths.

The ways of those who reject God lead to “destruction and misery.” The Greek word translated as “destruction” is suntrimma and this is its only use in the New Testament. It comes from the idea of dashing something to pieces. “Misery” comes from the Greek talaiporia, a word found only one other time in the Bible – James 5:1. It indicates a state of wretchedness.

It is evident that these words are not applicable to all people at all times. Rather they apply to a state of corruption which exists in the hearts of people and which is brought out when a denial of God exists. This is important to remember because, as was noted in a previous quote, these words cannot be found to imply that unregnerate man is unable to seek after God as Calvinism claims. These are generalities about humanity which can lead to specific extremes in humanity – such as Khan, Hitler, Stalin, etc.

The opposite is true as well. There a those who pursue peace who haven’t been called by Jesus. Perhaps they refuse to bear arms against others or spend their lives ministering to others, even though they aren’t saved believers. This is important to note in order to gain a proper understanding of how one comes to saving faith. It is often true that the worst offenders will see their need for Jesus before the one who is always helping others and doing good stuff.

The truly depraved person, when confronted with the truth of the gospel, may fully understand their condemned state and seek for pardon. The kind, gentle, and humble person when given the gospel may shun it because they feel they are already good enough and that the balances tip in their favor or maybe they are at the top of the bell curve.

Neither of these understandings would lead to the choice of accepting or rejecting the gospel without free-will. Instead, they would continue down their chosen path without a second thought. If man doesn’t possess free will, the evil of the person described in today’s verse would have to be traced back to the fall of man who didn’t possess free will and thus the blame would be elevated back to the Creator; such is impossible as God is perfect and holy in all ways.

Therefore, the wicked state of those described by Paul is a personal choice acting upon the already corrupt state of man. It is a choice which is reflected in Matthew 7:13 – “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” Jesus asks us to make the right choice because the wrong one will end in the destruction and misery noted in this same verse.

Life Application: If you’re struggling with the doctrine of free-will in man because you were originally instructed that you don’t possess it, then think the issue through to its logical conclusion at the fall of man – ascribing the fall to God. The question is, “Do you have free will?” The reply – “Think it through and then you decide.”

Lord, You have been so gracious to Your fallen creatures. You have given us the choice to choose You, but time and time again we choose the opposite. And yet You continuously call us back to You, giving us the chance to turn and call on You in truth. Help us to think rightly and to make the choice of life and peace… the choice of Jesus. Thank You for Jesus. Amen.

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