Romans 3:19-20 ~ Mr Deeds

547,500.  The number of sins I estimate I will have compiled by the age of 75.  (And that is a very conservative estimate.) 

Romans 3:19-20 (NLT)

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

About these verses, John Stott wrote, "There is nothing to wait for but the pronouncement and execution of the sentence." (Romans, p.102) 

Mr.-Deeds-movie-poster Throughout history many people have tried to secure a ticket to heaven through being "good."  If a person is "good enough" then they probably should go to heaven… or something like that, right?  Mother Theresa was sooooo good, that she must have gotten an automatic pass through the pearly gates, right?  Ghandi must be okay, right?  King David… well, maybe not… had trouble with his libido.  St. Peter… hmmm… didn't he cut off a guy's ear?  Chuck Swindoll… he rides a motorcycle.  My dog… he's pretty good i guess… most loyal 'human' on earth… but he's got a potty problem.

Anyways, at some point, isn't it true that many of us slip into an assumption that a person's "good deeds" should cancel out their" bad deeds" and that should make it all okay for us in the end?  Time for "good" behavior, right?  Certainly that's how God must see things… Kind of an unspoken rule that 1 good deed makes up for 10 bad ones or something like that.

But in verse 20, Paul declares that "no one can ever be made right with God by "doing what the law commands"… a phrase understood to mean "good works"…  or literally, "works of the law."  In other words, God has a set pattern and no one has ever followed that pattern well enough to "be made right."  Don't kill, don't covet, don't commit adultery, don't put anything before God—- even considering just five of the foundational list of 10 commands and already everybody on earth in all of history has broken God's set pattern.  Added to this list are other things like caring for foreigners, turning the other cheek, forgiving people's debts, and keeping a sabbath.  Oh boy. 

But can a person do enough good works to overcome the pile of bad ones?  Where's the mercy rule?  Can Oprah give away enough cars?  Can Bill Gates give away enough millions?  I grew up in this certain country, went to this certain church, had this certain thought, told the truth in this certain situation, helped this certain person… is that good enough?

Asking the question proves us wrong.  We are not good enough to be right.

Because no matter how many good things a person does, the fact still remains that God's pattern is totally utterly completely perfect… with no flaws or failures or fudging.  To err is to mess up perfection.  Just once… and we're proved wrong.  Only 1 mistake… and we are shown to be "sinful". 

Oh, does that seems harsh? 

Well, consider this: even if I only make 1 sinful mistake a day, I'll still make 27,375 sins in a 75 year lifespan.  That's quite a few.  A lot more than one.  And the disgusting truth is that I must sin by the multiples each day (I certainly did today- just ask my family!)… Yes, yes, yes… Sometimes the sins are small… But woah… Sometimes the sins are a bit bigger… and yikes… Sometimes the sins are atrocious… And small, bigger, biggest, each one involves breaking God's law.  So I suspect by the time I die (if 75 is the age I'm blessed to live to), at a 20 sin a day average (and that's a very low estimate!), I will have sinned some 547,500 times.

I've no excuse.  I have been, am, and will be a sinner.  It's proven over a half-million times in my life.

 

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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