Humbling Hamartiology – Romans 3:9

 
The unbeliever has lots and lots of reasons to hate Bible Christianity. There is the law – which he interprets to be a bunch of rules that he doesn’t want to obey. There is a God Whom he doesn’t want to acknowledge as his King, but Who demands allegiance anyway. There are the prophesies of the Bible which he hopes aren’t going to be fulfilled. And there are Christians who constantly keep pointing their fingers at him, whether they actually do or not. I can think of at least two women, who quit coming to our church and forced their husband to follow them, because we constantly harassed them about the way that they dressed. Actually, we harassed them without ever saying a word about they way that they dressed.

There are lots of reasons to hate Bible Christianity, and DOCTRINE is often at the heart of the matter. If there is ever a reason to hate a church it ought to be doctrine. For example, our church believes in the sovereignty of God, and that is certainly an hated doctrine. And so is our position on the definition and authority of the New Testament church. You would think that everyone would love some of our doctrines: such as angels, Jesus and Heaven. But when the unbeliever hears all that those doctrines contain, they begin to hate them too. Heaven isn’t a haven for pirates. It’s doors don’t swing open just because someone’s debit card has enough credit behind it. We believe that the angels of God will some day be the enforcers of God’s earthly punishments. And of course, the Christ Jesus that we preach is not the Christ who is preached in most of the churches across this nation.

In some ways the doctrine which is the most offensive of all, has got to be the doctrine of Hamartiology. Is that a new word to you? You won’t find that in every Baptist Theology book, but it’ll be in some of them. The most common word for “sin” in the New Testament is “hamartia” (ham-ar-tee’-ah). Hamartiology is a nearly-useless word which means: “The study, or science, of SIN.”

This doctrine of Sin is a particularly humbling Bible doctrine, and therefore it is particularly hated. Under the heading: “The Fall of Man” our church “Statement of Faith” says: “We believe that man, originally created in holiness and actually associated with God in innocence under His law, did, by voluntary transgression of the Lord’s command, fall from the high and happy state in which he was created, and, as a consequence, became a sinner alienated from God, and brought upon himself and all mankind just condemnation; and that he is now, by virtue of his fallen nature, utterly void of holiness, positively inclined to evil, and actually condemned to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.” The average man doesn’t want to hear that humanity was originally created – let alone created in holiness. He doesn’t want to hear that he isn’t still in a high and happy state. He doesn’t want to hear that he is alienated from God or condemned. And he certainly doesn’t want to be told that he is positively inclined to evil or condemned to eternal ruin. Those are humiliating words – those are fighting words. Perhaps so, but they are also Biblical words and principles.

In Romans 3 Paul is in the midst of exposing the doctrine of sin. And just as he approaches one of the most telling and accurate descriptions of sin in all the Bible, he makes a comment. He says of both the Jews and the Gentiles that they are “all under sin.” He doesn’t say that they are “BOTH under sin” – he says that everyone in both groups are under sin. It’s not a general statement spoken about a majority; it is a specific statement about everyone. And what he says about all these people is that they areUNDER sin.” The word “under” is the very common preposition “hupo” (hoop-o’). Its most common translation is “of,” but it’s next is “under” and then “with.” But no matter how it is translated, it comes out pretty much the same: “We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all WITH, OF or UNDER sin.”

Let’s use the idea of “under sin” to briefly outline our doctrine of Hamartiology.

We are all under the IMPUTATION of sin.

In my study at home, I have a couple dozen theology books on the top shelf over my head. I pulled a couple down and glanced through them, quickly tossing them aside. I can put you to sleep easily enough with the true doctrine without resorting to describing the many false doctrines regarding the imputation of sin. You don’t need to know about Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism; the Augustinian theory and so on. And I don’t see Paul going into these things either.

What we need to know is that God created the first man without sin. Adam was innocent and untested until he was tested. When his wife pressured him to disobey God, he made a deliberate choice to disbelieve what God said: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Now, what resulted on the fateful day that Adam ate of that fruit, has confused a lot of people. Adam’s heart didn’t stop beating; lightning didn’t strike, and his brain-functions continued to work. In fact, he lived until he died about 900 years later. But actually he did die on the day that he disobeyed God and ate that fruit. This death was not physical, but just as real as physical – the poison of sin began flowing through his veins and his spirit died before the Lord.

Genesis 5 summarizes Adam’s life with these words: “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” I wonder how Adam did physically die? I am curious. Do you suppose that God came to him one day and said, “All right Adam, you’ve had enough, now it’s time to die”? I doubt it. Do you think that he was out on the family tractor, plowing up the back 40 and it rolled over on him? My guess is that he got old, weaker and weaker, until his heart stopped beating, and he died. If I’m wrong about that, I’m wrong, and there is no harm done, but that is my guess. Now notice that before he died Adam begat a son who was very much like himself in a great many ways. Would you like to know the summary of the life of Seth, Adam’s son? It too is found in Genesis 5. “And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.” Seth died, and so did Enos, and Enos’ sons and grandsons and all the children of next thousand generations.

The cause of all those people’s deaths was the implantation of corruption within them. They were all born sinners because Adam chose to become a sinner, and that sin was passed on. All his children were born with the corruption of sin, and they were all born spiritually dead. Apart from the miraculous birth of Jesus of Nazareth, there hasn’t been a child born to whom the sin of Adam has not been imputed, implanted or passed on. There are a great many scriptures which could be used to prove that statement, but Romans 5:12 is so conclusive that none other is really needed. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” This verse is saying that all the children of Adam and Eve sinned when Adam sinned. And the proof of that can be seen in the universality of physical death.

Is this a doctrine which is pleasing to the ear? Absolutely not! “If I am going to be sent to hell,” the unbeliever says, “I want to be responsible for it.” Well sir, in one sense of the word, you are. But at the same time, the father of your family made a decision which has affected every member of your family. If that doctrine bothers you, it might ease your mind to know that deliverance from sin, comes through the same sort of means – the imputation of the righteousness and eternal life of another – the Lord Jesus Christ. If someone hates the idea that Adam sinned as the representative of all his children, then he will logically have to hate the doctrine that Jesus’ died to save all of His chosen children. You can’t have the second without taking the first. Unfortunately billions of souls have the first without ever accepting the second. But moving on….

All are under the COMPULSION of sin.

In addition to the imputation of Adam’s sin, we are under the corruptive influence of sin. For the sake of argument, let’s say that my first point this afternoon isn’t true and never happened. Let’s say that there is no such thing as imputed sin or spiritual death as a result. The fact remains that we have all personally sinned and come short of the glory of God. The reason that we have all sinned is because we are born sinners and spiritually dead. But even if that was not the cause, and the effect was the result of something else. Still, there is not a person among us, who has not committed hundreds of rebellious acts against God.

There is a compulsion within our hearts which often completely defies logic. There is a compulsion in each of us which seems to demand that we sin. Oh, once in a while, we are strong enough to tell that compulsion to sit down and shut up, but there have been times innumerable when we have submitted to the dictates of our sinfulness.

Has there ever been a time in your life, when you were dominated by a bully? Perhaps it was an older child in your family; perhaps it was a mean youngster in the play ground. Perhaps there were threats involved or even weapons. He demanded that you give up your candy or your toy; your lunch money; your wallet or something even more precious. Do you say that you’ve never been under the thumb of someone like this? Then praise the Lord! And yet, I guarantee that if you look closely, you’ll see that something in your own heart has been an evil dictator and bully towards you.

Isn’t this to what Paul was referring in Romans 7? “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

We are all under the compulsion of sin.

And then to make matters worse, sometimes we find ourselves under the SUBJUGATION of sin.

There are all kinds of addictions to which people are prone. For example, yesterday, I woke up ten minutes after my usual hour. And I gave a few seconds thought about staying in the comfort of my nice warm bed for another hour. I had no pressing responsibilities except polishing a couple of messages and finishing this one. But then I reminded myself that by lunch time I would be angry with myself. If I don’t take my morning walk and exercise Jackie’s dog at the same time, I feel guilty. I even feel guilty for not exercising the dog on Sundays, when I never take my walk. The truth seems to be that I am addicted to that half hour of exercise, and if I don’t take it, I suffer from some sort of withdrawal for the rest of the day. Of course, I might be living in personal denial: But I know some people whose exercise addiction is clearly evil and sinful. Not only do they exercise, but they spend hundreds of dollars and even the Lord’s tithe buying equipment or time at the gym. And instead of attending the house of God, you can find them at the gym working on their health. My addiction contains no sin at all, because I’m not sacrificing my service to the Lord in doing it – or so I tell myself.

There are addictions which are clearly sinful, and then there are non-sinful addictions. I believe that addiction to tobacco and alcohol are sinful addictions, but probably not coffee or cola. I know people who are addicted to lying, to the point you can’t ever be sure that what they are saying is the truth. There is addiction to fornication in various forms, and some people are addicted to gambling and stealing. Such people are under the subjugation of those sins – they are enslaved by them. They can’t escape them if they really want to, but of course they don’t really want to escape.

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we … they are all under sin.”

Another way in which we are under sin is that we are under its CONDEMNATION.

Do I need to explain or expound this point? Hasn’t it been declared regularly from this pulpit? There is a penalty for sin – every sin, from the least to the greatest. That penalty is eternal death. From the hundred scriptures we would use to press the point, I need only Romans 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death.”

Perhaps the only thing needed right now is to remind ourselves that although this condemnation may be heard and carried out at some future time, the condemnation is already in place. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” In other words, unless we are under God’s saving grace, we are already under the condemnation of sin.

If there isn’t evidence of salvation – seen in repentance of sin and faith in Christ – then you, my friend are still under the condemnation for your sins. We are all under sin, but by the grace of the Lord, there is escape. Repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.