The Principle of Advertisement
In the tradition of advertising, both Satan and God employ its principles. Before we buy a
product, we have to be shown how our life is incomplete without the product being sold – in other words, our need. In Satan’s case he tries to allure us to act on our impulses to “satisfy the cravings of our sinful natures”. God on the other hand, in these last three chapters, is trying to show us (advertisement) that we are truly lost and in need of salvation which he will explain in later chapters. Jesus said that “those who are healthy do not need a doctor”. And that “he came to save those who are lost”. Do not all need a doctor and are not all lost? The key is those who KNOW that they are lost and need a doctor. Thus, God is showing us through these first three chapters of Romans how lost we are, and thus our need for God to do something for us. I like to say that “The Old Testament was given in order to get us lost, and the New Testament was given in order to get us found.” The OT shows us our need and lostness, and the NT gives us the answers and salvation. (picture credit: Donell Trostrud)
No One Is Righteous
Rom 3: 9-20 use this link for the NIV, or use your favorite Bible version. Highlight vs 9b, 10, 12b, 19b, 20
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who’s Law reveals my righteousness. “I have bound all men to sin.” “There are none righteous no not one.” “For if you break the law at one point, you are guilty of breaking them all.” I gave the law to show you how much you are NOT righteous, how much you are NOT like me. I did not give the Law as a ten step self improvement plan. Or as a means to earn my favor or any rewards for good behavior.
I AM the God who must draw all men to me. No one comes to me until they see how much they need me. Consequently, my Spirit does that by using needs in your life to help you see that only I can satisfy; only I am worthy to be feared. There is a tendency that when life is good, no one seeks me. However when I allow your lives to fall apart, then men seek me. Like king David said “before I was afflicted, my heart went astray.” I desire all men to want me, but I know that they will not, unless I draw them to myself. “No one seeks after God.” Only my grace gives people that desire and prompting should they choose to respond.
I AM the God who will hold men accountable to the Law. “So that every mouth may be silenced…” Break my law one time in your entire life and you have broken them all. The Law requires perfection because the Law is my perfect holy standard. Nobody can measure up to me. Thus all men must realize their fault and come to me for forgiveness. There are none good, none righteous in the history of men besides my Son – Jesus. This is why I gave the sacrificial system to the Jews; in order to atone for sin by death so that they didn’t have to die. My Son fulfilled the Law and the sacrifice thus “He who has the Son, has life…”
I AM the God who sees and judges men’s hearts. I am there in the conception of the decision of your thoughts when you are tempted to sin. I see when you resist and when you fall to the pressure of Satan’s temptations. I know your thoughts before you do. I see when you act on your thoughts. No one can claim innocence before me – my justice is not blind. “If a man lusts in his heart, he has committed adultery already.” “If a man hates his brother, he has committed murder already.” “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’”. The Law can do nothing to help you. It is simply a mirror to show you that you are dirty before me.
I AM the God who advertises Life and forgiveness in the Bible. Once you realize this, once you see your need, then you are in a position of receiving mercy and grace. Only then will you be able respond to my invitation, as advertised, to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Only when you are tired of grappling with sin and trying to be good, will you be in a place to surrender to me and let me make you clean and holy like me.
Figuratively speaking, every day we must choose which tree to eat from
Paul sums up the lost state of mankind in this section of Romans three by revealing that all men are alike at their core beings be they Jew or Gentile, savage or civilized, educated or illiterate, rich or poor, religious or secular; all men are sinners and doomed. Not one can hold a candle to God’s righteousness where by God would allow them eternal life and access into heaven. All are positionally sinful in Adam, and the law was added to show us personally how sinful we are practically. If we were there in the garden instead of Adam, we would have ate that fruit just as he had. That is our nature. And to prove it to us individually, we cannot obey God’s laws perfectly either (nor do we really want to). That same sinful nature which makes us lost in principle is why we are lost in practice. As I like to say, “Adam made us sinners, thus we sin” (in breaking God’s laws). You could say that each law of God, every opportunity to do wrong is our being offered the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We are given choices throughout each day to walk independently from God or in submission to him. Nobody chooses the later as verses 10-12 say in this section.
Surrender on God’s terms.
Only once we agree that we need God, and that we are truly lost, only then we are in the perfect place to consider and accept God’s advertisement to help us. The principle is that man must come to God on HIS terms not ours. That is the difference between Christianity and religion. We must come to God by his provision not ours, just as Adam’s garment of fig leaves was not acceptable and God had to clothe Adam properly to be accepted. This is why Christ advertised; “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest unto your souls…” He is offering his robe of righteousness to us instead of our relying on our own filthy garments of good works.
In the weeks to follow we will see how this is accomplished.
More to come,