March 2, 2018

You're a Lot Worse Than You Think You Are

Romans 3

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God's Righteousness Upheld

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

  “That you may be justified in your words,
    and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

No One Is Righteous

What then? Are we Jews1 any better off?2 No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

  “None is righteous, no, not one;
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.”
13   “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
  “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15   “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17   and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being3 will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.


[1] 3:9 Greek Are we
[2] 3:9 Or at any disadvantage?
[3] 3:20 Greek flesh

You're a Lot Worse Than You Think You Are

Bio | Laura Webb

For ten long years I chased a dream, submerged in a life that was all about me.
Drunken by need for others to praise me, I couldn't see I was stealing God's glory.

City to city, I sang, I played, telling the stories of "young love" and heartbreak.
Oh, had I known how much was at stake neglecting the story of Christ and His grace.

In true Savior fashion, my Jesus stepped in to redeem and restore what I lost in my sin.
The life and the gifts once battered and wasted . . . repurposed, set free, that others might praise Him.

Click HERE for a neat, quick way to experience the Book of Romans through song!

Central Truth

In the space of acceptance of our complete depravity, we invite forgiveness and reconciliation, intimacy in relationship, the power of God for life eternal, and life on earth to the full. 

Devotional | Romans 3

I remember it vividly, sitting at the local Taco Bell praying, "God, please help us to be perfect." I was offended when the small group leader then prayed, "God, help us to remember we can't be...

I remember it vividly, sitting at the local Taco Bell praying, "God, please help us to be perfect." I was offended when the small group leader then prayed, "God, help us to remember we can't be perfect." Did she just start a prayer war?!

Frustration burned inside of me. I worked so hard as a grade-schooler to be everything I thought God wanted me to be. I didn't drink. I didn't kiss boys. I read the Bible every day and prayed. I even wore a purity ring! 

Romans 3 is here to tell me that she was right. According to the absolutely true Word of God, I am unbelievably far from any ability to achieve God's standard of perfection. This means I must find another way to get to heaven. The only way is to trust in the perfectly righteous Savior who became sin on my behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21) that I might become the righteousness of God.

Just as my small group leader kindly addressed my poor theology of sin, Paul wrote to address issues of concern in the Roman church, highlighting what it takes and doesn't take to be right with God. The run-down of Romans 3: No one is righteous. All are guilty and without excuse. Apart from Christ, we've got nothing. We're a lot worse than we think we are.

Fortunately, the punishment for our sin was paid once for all, "the righteous for the unrighteous" (1 Peter 3:18). If you haven't caught on yet, that's you, and me, and the most "holy" person you can think of—yes, even your sweet grandmother (Romans 3:10). 

When we realize we are broken and unable, we begin to see with clarity the true state of the human soul—desperation. The more we see our Creator for who He rightly is, the more we understand the gap between the measure of His goodness and our own. And in the space of acceptance of our complete depravity, we invite forgiveness and reconciliation, intimacy in relationship, the power of God for life eternal, and life on earth to the full. 

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Discussion Questions

1. Have you taken the first step toward trusting God's righteousness instead of your own, admitting you are a sinner? If not, and you would like to, pray with me, "God, I believe that I am a sinner and that I cannot be saved apart from trusting in what Jesus did on the cross. I believe that He died to pay the punishment I deserve for my sin, and I believe He rose again from the dead to proclaim victory and freedom, eternal life for all who believe. I trust Jesus for salvation and commit my life to You today." If you made that decision just now, let someone in your local church know, or click HERE to email us for next steps on living an abundant life with Christ.

2. If you have any success or any appearance of good, it is only by God's grace. Where in your life are you tempted to think you are good or do good? Read Romans 7:18 and James 1:17. In light of what the Bible says, where do you think good or any ability to do good comes from? 

3. Do you ever find yourself working to earn favor, approval, or accolades? Read Romans 5:8. Do you believe that God loves you, approves of you, and sees you as righteous once you've placed your faith in His Son? Why or why not?

9 Comments available

caryn blocker over 1 year ago

i Love your devo and especially your rap, Laura! thanks so much for sharing them!

greg jones over 1 year ago

“God please help us to be perfect” that made me smile. Our perfect doesn’t go very high, but God’s perfect came down as a friend with a gift. Perfection in friendship is not found in the perfect gift, because it’s not the gift that makes the friendship perfect, it’s the friendship that can make a gift perfect. There is the perfect fix for a need but that doesn’t really require a friendship to give and receive. God’s perfect gift to friends, because the person was greater than the need. May the exchange be, seeing the Giver as greater than the gift.

Alaina Haas over 1 year ago
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Laura, thank you for writing this devo! You summed up Romans 3 so well and it’s a great reminder for me that I can’t be perfect, and I don’t have to be thanks to Jesus. Knowing you personally, it’s obvious you beleive the gospel wholeheartedly and I see your life reflect God’s Word on a daily basis, not perfectly but genuinely. You love people so well and love God with all you have. I am grateful that I get to learn from you!

Michael Scaman over 1 year ago

Galatians reminds us we start by grace and keep on walking by grace Gal 3:3

Justification is a work of God, but sanctification is a dependent work where we cooperate with God. Justification is apart from the law and a gift and results in changed desires with a new heart. Perfect? no.

Some say it’s: ‘Just as if you never sinned’ and even ’Just as if you always obeyed’ Good answer for justification Really bad answer for sanctification.

Justification is apart from law, but the law is in some sense the law upheld. Rom 3:30. The spirit of the law written on circumcised hearts. And its still true as John Owen said ‘be killing sin or sin be killing you’

Christopher Hyland over 1 year ago

Good morning Laura. As question 2 alludes to - all the good in my life…the good works, the right actions when they show up…they are nothing more than a vague reflection of the redemption God has given me. I am lost and depraved without Him, but His love overflows in me. He has rescued me from so much and pulled me out of such depths that when I focus on Him and not the tyranny of the urgent or the stresses of life His grace can overflow in me. But far too often the urgent and my pride tend to win out. Praying that I can lean on Him and welcome His peace even more today

Sue Bohlin over 1 year ago

Laura, what a fun bio (and thanks for writing and recording the Romans Rap!), and a powerful devo! Loved the “prayer war” story. As I read through Romans 3 again, I was reminded of the TV commercial for a local lawyer that features a hammer. Because, man, have we been hammered with the truth that (love your title) we ARE a lot worse than we think we are. No wonder Paul reminds us in Romans 12 not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought!

Hope Harris over 1 year ago

Laura, thanks for sharing the rap with us.

One simple statement says it all without Christ we got nothing!

I agree with Hugh, it takes desperation to come to the end of ourselves.

Lindsey Driscoll over 1 year ago

Laura, great devo and a refreshing reminder that we could never be good enough to earn God’s grace. Q3- my recent bouts of anger at work show my pride in thinking I can do something perfect, only to have a team member tell me it’s wrong, over and over again. Romans 3 makes it clear that I need Christ, because we all fall short (3:32), but I continue to read 3:24-26 and am reminded that Christ’s death justifies my sin, even my errors at work and my pride. My identity is an imperfect daughter of the King who is made righteous Day after day through faith in Christ, not my own perfection. (3:22)

Hugh Stephenson over 1 year ago

Great devo Laura. The true state of the fallen human soul is desperation. That seems to be what it takes.

Amy and I are on a group trip to Israel and Jordan. We had a long drive through the wilderness where the Hebrews spent 38 years. I have never seen a place so bleak and desolate. Nothing but rocks and dirt. A speck of vegetation here and there that you can barely see.

What’s REALLY crazy is that you can see the Promised Land across the Jordan river valley. Its rich, verdant and bountiful. Why would anyone choose disobedience that keeps you in the wilderness over obedience that leads to the Promised Land?

For the same reason I did. Choosing the serving of self over dying to self. Only when I was totally desperate did I see God’s truth that surrender is victory and obedience is freedom.

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