February 15, 2018

Do You Want the Bad News First or the Good News?

Romans 3:11–12

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11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12   All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”

Do You Want the Bad News First or the Good News?

Bio | Ann Holford

Hi, Journeyers! I'm Ann Holford. I'm a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and daughter. I love spending time with my crazy, loud, and busy family! I love giving good news; hate giving bad news. I've had a few too many car wrecks and dread giving my husband that bad news. The good news: He has been amazingly patient.  

More bad news: I still struggle to trust and obey God, although I've known Him a long time. The good news: God doesn't count on me to be perfect. 

I love getting to share THE good news from God's Word at Watermark's women's Bible study!




Central Truth

"[N]o one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:12b) This includes you and me. Since we have nothing in and of ourselves to bring to God, we need someone outside of ourselves. The good news is God sent Jesus to do what we could not do.

Devotional | Romans 3:11–12

I work for a small law firm. The owner of our firm is a wise, committed Christ-follower. He says, "When you have bad news to give a client, always follow bad news with good news, which is the...

I work for a small law firm. The owner of our firm is a wise, committed Christ-follower. He says, "When you have bad news to give a client, always follow bad news with good news, which is the solution to their problem." So I always follow bad news with, "But here's what we can do to solve this issue."

That's what God does in this chapter. The bad news is really bad—that no one does good. We're all deserving of God's wrath. What? Me? This doesn't mean that people don't do good things. It means that sin has affected every part of our being: our character, thinking, heart, motive, will. There is nothing in ourselves we can bring to God to merit or earn His acceptance. We need a Savior.

Sneak peek to verse 21 that starts with "But." That may be one of the most important words in Scripture. The bad news is truly bad for each of us. BUT good news follows, and it's the most important, eternity-changing news that you and I will ever hear. And the good news is not what WE can do to solve the issue, but what Christ already did.

Are people basically good like our culture tells us? This passage clearly tells us the answer is "No." Our culture tells us what we may want to believe, but the Bible tells us the truth. Have you heard a two-year-old scream, "mine!" when asked to share a toy? Did someone have to teach him that, or does it simply reveal his heart?

For us to appreciate the good news, we have to know the bad news. Once I understood that I'm NOT the exception—that I am the one who doesn't understand, seek God, and do good—it made everything look different. I can't fix myself. Scripture reveals who we really are: people who need a Savior. Our sin was so bad that Jesus had to die if we were to be redeemed, but Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to die. The worst news + the best news = the gospel.

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Discussion Questions

1. Do you really believe this passage is talking about you? Examine your thoughts, your motives, your desires. If this reveals anything short of perfection, go back and read this passage again. Where it says "no one" in Romans 3:12b, substitute your name: "no one, not even _____."

2. How does knowing that people are not basically good help you not be surprised when people disappoint and fail you? How does it help you appreciate God's unchanging goodness when He transforms people who are following Him?

3. Romans 7 tells us we all have a nature that is prone to sin. We aren't sinners because we sin; we sin because we're sinners. Do you tend to focus more on your actions or on your heart?

4. Romans 5:8 says that God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How will you respond to that kind of love today?


16 Comments available

Alison Williams 12 months ago
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Hugh Stephenson, I felt the same way, that I never really fit in. What a revelation your words are to my heart as to why…and to know where I really do belong. With sinners who are looking to Jesus. Thank you for sharing that insight.

Maggie Barrett about 1 year ago

Thank you for sharing your analogy about giving bad news at work. It really helped me get to the heart of the passage. Your discussion question #2 really resonates with me because sometimes I expect so much of others instead of leaning on the Lord, the only one who is good and never fails us.

Joel Holyoak about 1 year ago

The secular world believes just the opposite that “man/woman is basically good and given the right environment he/she will aspire to that goodness.” We are bombarded with that message through the schools, the media, etc. Like you said, individuals do not like to hear “bad news.” Unfortunately, many churches do not want to hurt the feelings of their congregations by giving them “bad news.” I think 2 Timothy 4:3 which says “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Watermark is clear on the “bad news” message and on the “good news” message of the Gospel that Christ died so that we do not have to endure the penalty of the “bad news” if we trust in Him.

Lisa Olsen about 1 year ago

Thank you, Ann!

Oh the precious blood of Christ…

greg jones about 1 year ago

Going back to Paul’s references, Psalms 14:1-3, 53:1-3 and Ecclesiastes 7:20, I see that the “all” talked about in psalms 14 is referring to the “fools”. The fools of Psalms chapter 14 are the ones frustrating the plans of the poor but that God is present with the righteous, He is their refuge. Ecclesiastes chapter 7 ends in verse 29. God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes. It’s interesting to read what the contrast to these verses are in their original use. Good devotional today, good idea to work through the questions thoroughly.

Patricia Simmons about 1 year ago

What a joy to see your sweet face this morning, Ann. I too am humbled by the grace I’ve been shown which is completely undeserved. It’s been such a blessing to sit under your leadership and see the grace and love of our Savior modeled in word and deed. None of us are good on our own, but God sees us through the lens of Jesus which makes us clean, spotless and worthy. This is indeed great news!

Hope Harris about 1 year ago

I’m reminded that, sin disorders every aspect of our lives. It affects all people. Sin damages our relationships between God and humans. This disordered state influences how we think and act. It distorts our primary purpose in life to worship God and to worshiping our ourselves.

Sins grip is so powerful that when we hear the good news and hear “all have sinned”; it rubs us the wrong way. Once I accepted Jesus I wrestled with this sin nature concept. My proud heart did not want to accept That I was born a sinner and that my sexual identity was somehow linked to sin and humanity’s fallen nature. More specifically my fallen nature. That’s the bad news. The Good news is God sent Jesus to restore order to my disordered. I am grateful that my life is being restored because of Jesus

Larry Miller about 1 year ago

Good word! While we might not always have good news to offer in the temporal world, God does! Grateful to serve and know the God of Good News.

Elizabeth Ann Short about 1 year ago

Ann, thanks for the challenge to focus more on my heart than on my actions, because that is what is important. Praying for an opportunity to share the “bad news” and the incredible “good news” with someone today.

Kristi Lichtenberg about 1 year ago

Thank you for the devo, sweet Ann! It’s easier to know I’m not good than to believe you’re not good!! But your devo reminds me that even our loving, kind, patient, and sweet friends need this good news! I love the “Reckless Love of God” song we’ve been singing lately! What a perfect pairing with Romans!

Lindsey Driscoll about 1 year ago

Ann - great devo reminding us all of our sin nature, and the amazing grace that saved us. Q2- There is no one good (3:12), meaning I will disappoint others and others will disappoint me. Thank you Lord for the grace that covers us all. A great reminder for all to stand in awe at Christ and our saving grace. (Ephesians 2:8)

Hugh Stephenson about 1 year ago

Since my youth, I always wanted to belong. Now Paul tells me I do belong…in the “None, no one and all” group. Perhaps the main insight God is giving me in Romans so far is to completely incinerate any sense of self worth apart from Him. I am nothing, “none, no one and all”.

This has been hard. It has shown me that I still have works based dependence in me and have not fully surrendered, submitted and abided. I have “turned aside” and “become worthless”. I am not righteous, I do not understand, I do not do good. I deserve full judgement and complete condemnation.

This is a blessing because it makes me smaller and Jesus bigger. The bridge diagram has been on my mind all week. The chasm between me and God gets wider with every reading. The arms of Jesus get longer and longer. Praise God.

Amy Merritt about 1 year ago

Ann thanks for this devo. I love your focus, reminds me of Romans 7 and verse 7:25 says, “Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Praising Him for the love, grace, and mercy He continues to show me while I’m still a sinner, fighting through this broken world, but fighting along side and with the one who delivers me from the enemy over and over!

Sue Bohlin about 1 year ago

JTJ family, would you please join me in asking God to bless my husband Ray’s upcoming return to Belarus (in the former Soviet Union), where he will be debating a world-class Russian scientist? The last time he debated an atheist scientist (with translation of course), the recording was uploaded to Russian YouTube where it went viral. Nobody expects a Bible-believing molecular biologist Ph.D. to be able to hold his own!

Please join us in asking the Lord to provide the needed travel expenses for this trip, which includes funding for the church leader training he will be teaching while there. Check out Probe.org/belarus for more information. Thank you!!

Sue Bohlin about 1 year ago

Hi Ann! Excellent devo, sister—of course! It made me think of what we find in the back of the refrigerator, leftovers long forgotten. The fuzzy, moldy, rotten food is completely worthless, with nothing good in it. That’s what we bring to the table, so to speak. It’s truly unbelievably good news that God can AND DOES redeem people who are just as rotten and fuzzy/moldy/no good as that used-to-be-food.

As I read today’s verses, I was struck by how very sad it must make God’s heart that there is NOBODY who seeks Him. No one who understands. No one who does good. He made us for relationship with Himself and there’s NOBODY who wants relationship with Him! So once again I am overwhelmed with gratitude that He turned my heart to respond to His invitation to life, to relationship with Him. God is so very very good!

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

starts with the understanding.

Diagnosis - wrong thinking about God Prognosis - unmotivated to seek God; lack of focus on what’s of enduring value; does nothing purely good Symptoms - some serious throat issues; what’s in the heart comes out the tongue. It ain’t pretty but open graves aren’t.

The problem is pandemic

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