Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
IN THE COURTROOM (D)
Introduction: Paul has brought seven indictments against our character (vv. 9-12) and four against our conversation (vv. 13-14). The prosecution climaxes its case against the human race by bringing three charges against our conduct (vv. 15-17) and one against our convictions (v. 18):
XII. THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD
(from IS 59:7a)
Romans 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood:”
The human race has always flirted with murder. Earth’s first-born son was a murderer, her second-born a victim. When Adam and Eve taught Cain to walk, they never dreamed what path his feet would eventually tread. Adam and Eve suffered in their family both sides of the agony of crime: one son was a criminal; the other a victim.
Rare have been the times and societies in which all human life has been revered and protected. It does not take much to get a man murdered. I heard a man say this week there are places in St. Louis where you can hire a murder for $10 and get change back. The statement was made in jest, but is terribly close to the truth. Murder is often committed on the slightest provocation. The life of a fellow man can be nothing in comparison to gratifying one’s own pride or hatred.
Murder is sometimes committed merely for fun: What could cause a man to put cyanide in “Tylenol” capsules, bringing death to people he does not even know? Murder is sometimes condoned as a convenience: A baby can be destroyed before birth to avoid inconvenience to the mother.
Paul knew firsthand how easily one can justify in one’s own mind bloodshed. He himself had consented to the death of Stephen, and was headed for Damascus to plunder and destroy when God stopped him cold in his tracks.
Jesus, knowing this tendency was strong in man, attacked it at its roots. He forbade hatred, which is the parent of murder. Not only that, men were also to avoid the grandparents of murder, envy and resentment.
Jealousy, envy, and resentment are common sins among us. Nevertheless, they are rarely confessed. When was the last time we confessed envy? When was the last time we had envy confessed to us? Rather than reveal itself through confession and repentance, envy tends to show its ugly head through backbiting.
According to fable, a murdered man’s corpse would bleed warm blood again whenever the murderer came nearby. Though merely a false superstition, try to imagine what it would be like if this principle held true not only for murder, but also for envy. What if every time you approached a person you envy, their nose began to bleed? If the Red Cross could catch it all, they would have rivers of blood to give away. Paul’s indictment is painfully accurate.
XIII. DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR WAYS
(taken from IS 59:7b)
Romans 3:16 “Destruction and misery are in their ways:”
Wherever men go, carnage follows. Destruction and misery are our traveling companions. This is the most accurate description of human history ever given. Megiddo, one of the world’s oldest cities, guards Armageddon. On the same site twenty-five different Megiddos have been built, each on the ruins of the former. Alexander Jannaus ruled Israel early in the first century B.C. Once he celebrated a feast with his wives and concubines while in their presence 800 of his enemies were crucified. In the 400’s A.D. Attila the Hun led his feared warriors on a 20-year rampage. The ruthless raider was known as the “Scourge of God.” That same century the Vandals were so destructive that their name is still applied to people who destroy property recklessly.
In the 1100’s Genghis Khan unified the Mongols into some of the most savage conquerors in history. He was ruthless, spreading death and destruction wherever resistance was met. The populations of entire cities were systematically destroyed and everything near them demolished. In the early 1200’s he laid waste to North China so completely that a horseman could ride for miles without stumbling over anything.
Centuries ago white men began navigating down the coast of Africa and stole whatever they could capture. To insure their own freedom, these coastal tribes bartered slaves from the interior to the whites. Hundreds of thousands suffered untold misery as this practice continued for generations. The world is still paying for this evil system.
Sir John Bowring is famous for taking Hong Kong and subduing China under British guns. But he is infamous for another fact: he forced the authorities in Chinese cities to sign treaties allowing opium to be imported to their territories. He could not have cared less that millions in China would become enslaved to that drug. Misery meant nothing to him. His only concern was that the British planters have a booming market for their lucrative, but illicit, crop. He cared not that the Chinese would flounder, just as long as the British flourished.
The Russians squelched Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, Afghanistan now (whole cities there have been decimated). We have recently learned the Russians are using slave labor to build their own pipeline. It is impossible to contemplate Poland without verging on tears.
Even the land in which we live was won with blood and tears. Near my home city of Cape Girardeau, a state park marks the “Trail of Tears” where the Indians were pushed west of the Mississippi and died in droves. It is a beautiful park to visit if you do not stop to think on what it commemorates. It was in our country that Sherman “marched to the sea.” Our coal mines were opened with riots and bloodshed. Industry fattened itself on the lifeblood of its workers. These are evidence enough.
XIV. AND THE WAY OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN
(taken from IS 59:8)
Romans 3:17 “And the way of peace have they not known:”
This is why we have so much misery and destruction. Men do not know how to make a peace that lasts. Men are strangers to peace, and the components that comprise it.
The only way to peace is via surrender to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. War on a worldly scale is merely the expression of battles raging within men. World War II was not begun on a battlefield, but rather in the restless heart of Adolph Hitler.
Until the restlessness in men’s hearts is stymied, wars will continue. Jesus Christ alone can make a man at peace with God, his surroundings, and his own heart. Contentment must dwell within before peace will reign without.
The world has never learned this. Even today people still confuse pacifism, an outward device, with peace. Pacifism has always been a grand failure. Ghandi is celebrated as the champion of pacifism. Yet once the British left his country, his followers slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their enemies.
I favor any attempts to discuss peace between nations. We should support any effort aimed at alleviating suffering. We should encourage all efforts to end shelling and carnage. I believe one of the earth’s finest honors is to receive the Nobel peace prize. I would be delighted to do something someday to earn it. But it would be much more accurate to call it the Nobel “Temporary-peace” prize.
Long lasting peace has always eluded us. Only a handful of generations have known total peace from war. And they had to pay for it by being under the grip of Rome. The total loss of liberty held men in check.
World War I was the “war to end all wars.” That bubble was burst within a mere 20 years. We who are Christians realize that at best human efforts at peace are merely stop-gap measures. MacArthur was right when he pleaded for America to send missionaries by the thousands to Japan after World War II. He was showing true insight into peace. Jesus is the only hope.
XV. THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES
(taken from PS 36:1)
Romans 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
This is the final indictment, and the evil source of all the others. Our root problem lies within our convictions. Irreverence is the mother of evil.
It is an amazingly effective ploy of Satan that encourages men to acknowledge there is a God while at the same time acting without any fear of His displeasure. Atheists try to argue God away; the rest of the world tries to ignore him away.
It is dangerous to give lip service to God without even considering the implications of His existence. Many believe God exists, but feel no sense of responsibility to Him.
Where there is no fear of God, expect no good. The fear of God restrains our spirits and keeps them right. The fear of God serves as a bridle to restrain our wickedness. Once the bridle is removed, men feel at liberty to indulge at will in every kind of evil imaginable.
Sad is the man who loses the fear of God. Once a man conquers his fear of God, he has conquered the only fear that destroys all other fears. Once the fear of God is destroyed, everything else a man fears comes upon him as a consequence of evil. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” (PR 28:1).
Once we conquer the fear of God, we will be the recipient of every human woe. The foolishness of man is unbelievable in this regard. William Newell heard a man remark about a champion prizefighter, “How I’d hate to be hit by him!” The man wisely showed every capability of being able to fear. Within moments this same man was freely using God’s name in vain. How ludicrous! Afraid of a man, but not of God. Men will fear a worm of dust like themselves, but disregard God Almighty, Ruler of Heaven and Earth.
This concludes our day in court. Fifteen counts of depravity have been brought against us. We are guilty on each count. Our depravity boggles the mind. Adam! What did you begin? Man! What hast thou wrought?
But wait a minute! Do not leave this place down in the mouth and despondent. Do not consider it pessimism to say man cannot solve his own problems. Once a man realizes this, he is well on the way to recovery.
Once you admit you cannot help yourself, you will look up for help. Look up! There is enough power to heal in Jesus. He has all you need. Do not balk, or kick against the pricks. Flee to Jesus for refuge.