Why Christians Need To Stop Quoting Romans 3:23

Why Christians Need To Stop Quoting Romans 3:23

In Christianity we have a handful of “go-to” verses. Verses that every Christian knows by heart.

Have you ever noticed this?

Now our number one favourite is obviously John 3:16.

But after that we have quite a few contenders for most quoted Bible verses.

My least favourite is Romans 3:23.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23 ESV)

I just hate the way we quote this verse all the time.

I travel all over the world and have found that, unfortunately, it’s far from an English speaking, western phenomenon either… Everyone knows this verse inside and out.

The Game

I like to play a game when I’m speaking – i do it nearly everywhere I go. Here’s how it goes:

I say, “all have sinned…”

And then I gesture for the group I’m speaking to to finish up the sentence. They always nail it without fail (even in non-English speaking nations they do this remarkably well!)

Actually that isn’t technically true. I said they finish the sentence… Actually they finish the verse.

And therein lies the problem.

Romans 3:23 is only part of a sentence.

So when I’m speaking I usually then ask everyone to finish the sentence, or at least get the next verse.

Nobody can ever do it without looking at their Bibles… Can you?


How does the sentence continue?

“and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 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.” (Romans 3:24, 25 ESV)

Yup… We are quoting only the bad news and leaving out the good news!

Imagine we ran around quoting v24?

“[all] are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus!”

That’s way better news and much more likely to draw people into relationship with God than telling them they are useless and have fallen short of God’s glory.

Of course it’s not an either/or, the whole message is there in v23-25

But if we are going to pick and choose let’s at least pick the part that shows people how to get saved!

Telling people how far short of God’s glory they fall is just not the Gospel!

The Gospel is telling people about how much of an effort God went to in order to justify us by a free gift of grace!

So hopefully if you are one of those people who like to quote Romans 3:23 this post might serve as an challenge to you.

Memorise the next verse and run around sharing that instead!

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  1. A few months ago I was reading Romans 3 and had to do a mental double-take when I read v 24. What do you think of v 22? It seems a more conservative interpretation is possible.

    22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe ; for there is no distinction ; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus ;

    It seems all who are justified could simply be the all who believe. I agree with your interpretation. I think Paul is saying all who believe are justified because all are justified, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk.

    • Absolutely Jordan.

      I didn’t want the blog to spiral out of control – I like to do a 20hr class on Romans at a couple of ministry schools I teach at so I can easily get over excited by the contexts as they ever expand.

      Ultimately we do ourself gross disservice when we read any of Romans out of context for of all the letters if flows in a way that no others do!

      There is huge scope for how to interpret these passages even when reading all of them in context. That’s why we have about 2000 years of disagreement on it all ;) haha

      But yes, there is a fairly ok precedent for God only justifying those who believe. Although I think it’s a harder one to argue when looking at the broader context of Romans.

      For example when we just zoom out one more bit… we can see that the context is in Paul saying the law has never justified someone and that it’s purpose is to reveal sin (Rom 3:19-20)

      He then goes on in verse 21 to introduce the concept of righteousness by faith and contrasts it with the law.

      This is why in verse 22 he states “for there is no distinction” he is saying “the righteousness through faith is not worse than the righteousness that was attainable through works” the only difference is it’s there for the taking, for all who believe.

      So all that to say I agree, while we have our personal convictions there are many ways to interpret this passage.

      However, going full circle back to the point I was making in the blog…

      There is no good interpretation that should have us focus on Romans 3:23 haha :)

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Scripture leaves little to understanding if it is misquoted, taken out of context, or abbreviated. It seems to me that we often turn scripture into a cliche, such as with Romans 3:23, failing to take into consideration that while it is true we are all sinful people, God made arrangements for us to seek forgiveness through the sacrifice of Himself through His Son for our salvation and access to Him. When scripture speaks to us, God uses the surrounding passages to highlight a portion of scripture, but it ALL has to be taken in context, and not just the part that “speaks” to us. The Bible tells us that Saul fell on his sword to avoid capture, and Judas went out and hanged himself when things did not work out for him, but those verses by themselves do not justify suicide. Understanding the Bible, as you have pointed out, requires studying passages and context and not just a particular “feel good” verse. Once we understand the passage, one particular verse can then be applied as part of a lesson or personal learning.

        • Absolutely a Bible teacher of mine in college said something that stuck with me. We only earn the right to use scriptures out of context when we know their immediate context and use it within the overall context of the scriptures.

          Ultimately when we know how a passage is meant to be used it’s ok to use it out of out of that context knowing that we are doing so, so long as we keep it within the greater scope of the scriptures overall.

          That would be my concern here – while many do that with this passage few keep it in the council of the initial or greater message of scripture… that while the statement was true, it is no longer true for those who are under the blood of Jesus.

      • We need to teach the holiness of God to the lost. How will the lost understand the incredible price for their deliverance if they don’t understand the incredible holiness of God. Therefore we have to stress more passionately the corruption of the lost. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

        • Tim I feel like you are misunderstanding the point I’m making in this blog.

          The lost are not lost because they don’t understand God’s holiness. They are lost because they aren’t in relationship with Jesus.

          We don’t need to preach about God’s “holiness” in the sense that you use the word. We need to teach about God’s goodness and gift of grace and righteousness… that’s what brings them into relationship.

          • True, people already know that God is holy. That’s the main reason Adam hid from God in the garden.

            People need to know the Love of God as shown in John 3:16 & 1 Corinthians 13.

            Great article… Thank you!

      • Phil,

        I like your stuff, though I may be the only one, but I’m put off by your cavalier treatment of the three letter word its. In the post at the top of this page, you use ‘it’s’ when you mean to use ‘its’. ‘It’s” always means “it is.” There is never a time when ‘it’s’ means “belonging to it.” Never. Whenever you are tempted to write ‘it’s’, substitute “it is” to see if it is what you mean. Then people won’t be hindered from considering your theology because they’re tripped up by your mistake in grammar.

    • Jordan, it is a slam dunk when we consider what Paul says to Timothy in 1 Tim. 4:10. He uses the same structure: “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

  2. To get any sort of balance both verses need to be quoted not either/or we go from one extreme to the other, lets get the full gospel out. Paul in Acts just like Jesus preached about hell giving a warning of the judgement to come. When a person convicted by the Holy Spirit that they are a natural born sinner, deserving hell gets this revelation, they then have opportunity to repent and receive salvation. If there’s no hell and no sin and were all good anyway, we don’t need the cross or repentance. AS a result there are very few evangelists and a lot more sinners in church who just don’t care bout people or God as what’s the point? For those in the truth, knowing the terror of God we persuade men.

    • Hi Colin,

      Thanks for sharing. While I do see where you are coming from I don’t see it the same way.

      We do not need sin to enjoy righteousness. We don’t need darkness to enjoy light.

      Sin, darkness, hell etc are real, and their consequences might push us towards righteousness, light and heaven. But ultimately the good news does not *require* an announcement of bad news first.

      It can contain bad news and if you feel a strong conviction to tell people they are sinners before you tell them God loves then and has died for them then by all means I wouldn’t be the one to sway you from that choice.

      But I personally just don’t see it as helpful. I’ve never lead someone to the Lord who didn’t already know all too well how messed up their life was.

      John 16:9 says that the Holy Spirit’s role is to convict unbelievers of their sin. We don’t need to convict people of their sin – people have God for that. We are there to cry out the good news of the gospel.

      This concept of evangelism I personally feel comes from the fact we are pushing the wrong gospel.

      When we think that Jesus came to stop us from sinning we need to preach that people are sinful.

      When we think that Jesus came to save us from Hell then we need to preach that people are going there.

      But when we think that Jesus came to bring us into relationship with God (and as a byproduct bring us into righteousness and Heaven) we don’t need to point out their sin and destination of Hell… we simply reveal to them the chance to connect with a God they never knew.

      That to me is the crux of the problem as I see it.

      • I use both Romans 3:23-24 in my personal evangelism. But I tell my personal story and Jesus story through them something like this, into a discovery conversation: “I know what you mean, I was there. I was struggling with (something they shared). But a friend explained to me that we’ve all messed up, we all come up short of God’s standard for our lives, that’s where my life was. I was without peace and purpose, struggling because I didn’t understand that God made a way for US, by his grace, to be restored to the life he really wants for US.”

        We need both the bad news and the good news to draw the distinction between the two, just like Paul does. See Acts 26 for how Paul shares his testimony and the number of times he uses the personal pronoun “I”. When we personalize the message to ourselves, it’s not a club to beat “sinners” with but a personal story people can relate to. When we change the pronoun from “you” to “I” it disarms people because they are hearing “my” story.

        I then go on, “My friend told me that this was a free gift from God, through Jesus. That all I needed to do was to believe and say Jesus is my ‘boss’ (yes, I use that word because Lord isn’t understood in our culture) and I could have this free gift too. I decided to take God up on his offer.”

        The focus is my story, not theirs. Nowhere do I tell them they are sinners, for as you state they already know that. Most people know when they are far from God, unless they’ve rejected God altogether. I’m sharing my personal story and for that reason their guard is down, they’re not needing to defend themselves.

        The question them then is simply, “Have you ever made a decision like that?” Frequently the answers is “no” but in my area of the country it’s often, “yeah, when I was a kid,” but they know they are far from God. The next question for the “no response is, “would you like to receive this free gift?” The questions for the “yes” response is, “great, can I help you to better live Jesus free gift out in your life?” That opens the door to discipleship, not just a decision.

        Let’s not throw the baby (in this case Romans 3:23) out with the bathwater (poor evangelism training) but find effective ways to communicate Biblical truth to a culture needing to know the truth.


        • That’s awesome Brian that this passage can take on such real meaning in the way you communicate the gospel. I totally agree that it has to be a message for us not for “them”…

          Ultimately lets remember that this message is one that Paul is writing to believers – not unbelievers.

          When we understand the power of the gospel in our lives and connect with God in an intimate personal way we find ourselves positioned to share the gospel in an effective way to those around us.

          Thanks for sharing!

          • Phil,

            You’re right that Paul writes this to Christians. But it is even more directed than that. Chapter 1 (2nd half) is directed at (mostly) Gentiles, Chapter two is directed at the Jews who seemed to have the idea that their “Jewishness” gave them a boost over those Gentiles, and then Chapter 3 brings the two together to point out that in Christ, we are on an equal plane. Outside of Christ we are all a mess, whether Jew or Gentile, and in Christ, we are all made righteous, clean, holy.

            – damon

      • Riddle me this… how do we know what light is without darkness? How do we know what love is without hate? How do we know what hope is without fear?

        How do sinners know they need to be saved when they’re not told what they need saving from? What you’re selling is a watered-down version of the truth if you only pick that which is palatable. We are not to “shrink from telling you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) lest we are not “innocent of the blood of all” (Acts 20:26).

        The difficulty of teaching/preaching Romans as with the whole of Scripture, you MUST consider the context of the WHOLE letter. It’s true that Romans was written to believers in Rome, but what do we do with 1:18ff? These verses clearly point to sin and its effect. But look at 1:17, “The righteous shall live by faith!” Ah, but what of 1:16; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

        Now chapter 3, we see the uselessness of religion and works (vv.1-19), and then Paul gives us v.20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Wait!! Through the law comes knowledge of sin?? But why would we want to know about our sin? Won’t that make us feel bad?? Then we see the verses in question, and we must keep reading to v.27ff. The reason, the purpose for God’s grace and mercy has NOTHING to do with us! It has EVERYTHING to do with Him! God saves to bring Himself glory. God condemns to bring Himself glory. Either way, He gets the glory.

        Paul writes Romans 3 (and 1-11 for that matter) to put us in a right understanding of our place before a Holy and Righteous God, not to make us feel good.

        • Thanks for sharing Patrick – I feel like you are misunderstanding what I said. I’m not promoting reading the scriptures out of context. I’m trying to highlight the importance of context. I frequently do a 20hr school on walking through Romans. I’m well aware of the context and importance of Romans 1-3… but we must remember that the reality of Romans 1-3 are nullified in light of the truth put forth in Romans 4-11 – they nail that reality to Cross of Christ.

          I’m not advocating we don’t learn those truths or try sweep them under the rug but we can’t teach them as present realities… just as Paul taught them as past realities in light of what Christ has done.

          As for your arguemnt “how can we know light without darkness or love without hate?” – I just don’t see that logic… to me it seems completely illogical.

          Is God not loving without hate? Does God only become holy when sin enters the world? Were Adam and Eve unable to understand God’s goodness and love and perfection because the opposites of those were not in the world?

          We don’t need to know what darkness is to enjoy the light – (we of course will never have the luxury of that having already experienced darkness) to say that is to say good is contingent on bad is to say that God is dependant on evil for Him to exist and be known for who He is.

          I just can’t see that personally – I’m not saying we don’t have a huge appreciation for the light because of our experience of darkness (love / hatred – holyness/sin etc)

          But I just don’t see the logic that they are required.

          • You are so sadly mistaken!! It is when we see our need of a Savior because of our sin, we can then accept his glorious gift of salvation. People who are lost LIVE in darkness!! They KNOW darkness!! When we say ALL have sinned, we’re offering them hope that EVERYONE is in the same boat….no one better or worse than the other and that HE…the LIGHT…can save them from the darkness! Be very careful about the “feel good”, “you’re not so bad” message you’re spreading.

          • Thanks for sharing your perspective Susan.

            I don’t think I’m teaching people to “feel good” or that “they are not so bad” – I don’t see that anywhere. I’m just saying why would you focus on the problem when you have the solution.

            Why would you tell people they need to understand how dark the room is when you can switch on the light.

            The first is utterly redundant in light (no pun intended) of the second.

            When we preach how great God is, how good He is, how forgiving, loving, accepting, gracious He is… and how complete His work ALREADY is for people… people will know they are not there.

            As Paul said – All have fallen short of the glory of God.

            When you have fallen short of that glory and you suddenly have it thrust in your face you don’t need to be told you are a sinner… you are well aware of it.

            When someone shows you the light you don’t need to be told you are in darkness.. you know you don’t live in that light!

            That’s my point – hope that clarifies where I’m coming from.

          • Susan, I don’t believe Phil is mistaken at all, sadly or otherwise.

            You have rightly pointed out that the world is stumbling in darkness. I see it every day, up close. You even go so far as to say “They KNOW darkness!!” And indeed they do. I did. I didn’t need anyone to emphasize to me that I was in darkness, feeling pain, miserable, hopeless. I knew that already. What I needed was for someone to pull back the veil over my eyes and let the light shine through.

            I see two things happening here: 1) Lost souls in the world have been “sin-pounded” into the ground up to their necks. The have no need for me to pound them further. 2) Saved souls in the church continue to hear the “sin-pounding” message to the point that they no longer feel saved, because they are SO sinful that grace has left them (or so they believe). This is why, when there is some form of alter-call, these same saved people go forward in a sort of “just in case” maneuver, rather than resting in the grace of God that has washed them clean.

            As you read on in Romans, you will find in Chapter 5 that Paul is teaching the grace of God so strongly and so passionately that the believers in Rome were in danger of believing sin no longer mattered. That’s what prompted the rhetorical question in 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” When I was going through seminary, one of the more “fundamentalist” professors stunned me one day by saying, “Until you have taught the grace of God to the point that people think sin no longer matters, you have not taught the grace of God the way Paul taught it.” I’ll never forget that line.

            The world needs light, and the church needs light. Darkness has reigned for long enough in far too many people’s lives.

            – damon

      • The central theme has to be the hope of glory, if I don’t have assurance of salvation and that my sins are covered I will attempt religion to solve this. Without a knowledge that I have a place in heaven, I really don’t want to go on any more, because life has no meaning or future. Pauls says which is better to be…? but for the sake of… this world has very little to offer except the opportunity to take as many people to heaven with us as possible. To plunder hell and populate heaven as R. Bonnke says! for us its as close to hell as we’ll get, for the unrepentant its as close to heaven so enjoy! We’re blessed to serve and go into all the world and preach the gospel of love. That is the end goal, period, and not a by product or secondary consideration. The torture on the cross was to take away sin, that is not a side show but the main event and a lightening conductor for God’s wrath and hatred of sin. Please don’t keep playing this good news down, people say to me they can have relationship with buddah, allah, hare Khrishna, Mary Baker etc, and are perfectly content with that, the difference is they all have a grave, but for risen saviour Jesus there is an empty tomb so go tell the disciples and Peter, He is risen! that’s the message right there! so we can rise with him to everlasting life, eternity is written on the heart of man, deep down he knows what the most important thing is. Peter basically said ‘no may this gospel message of you dying for sin never be,’ Jesus replies get thee behind thee satan.. The famous evangelist R. Bonnke tells of how he got saved, his mother caught him stealing one day and rather than scold him said ‘you know that all thieves will go to hell’ I don’t want you to go there so you need to repent of your sin and turn to God. Thankfully he was convicted of sin by his mothers kind words and did the Sinners prayer with her, the rest is history! Preachers who preach a different gospel or add/take away from the word are seriously warned in revelation that there name be removed from the lambs book of life! That’s a bit more than just losing a close relationship! many will say Lord Lord didn’t we do this or that in your name, but I will say get away from me…I never knew you. This warning out of love is meant to bring correction not condemnation, but unless we all repent of This SIN! it will go to the grave with the practitioner.

        7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.…

        • Hi Colin.

          We’ve discussed in quite a bit of depth back and forth on Facebook this and I really don’t see how we are going to come to a conclusion. I really think we are going to have to agree to disagree.

          However, if you must comment could I please ask you to keep your comments to the point and preferably in one place. Having you post 7 comments throughout these comments all quite lengthy and rambling doesn’t make the discussion particularly easy to have.

          As you said “The central theme has to be the hope of glory”

          My issue is that we seem to be a on a totally opposite spectrum when interpreting the hope of glory.

          Somehow you seem to be interpreting the “hope of glory” to be heaven or being saved from sin…

          But the hope of glory isn’t that.

          Col 1:27 clearly states that CHRIST IN YOU is the hope of glory.

          You see it all goes back to what I’ve said every time.

          We won’t be able to agree until we figure out this point.

          You think Jesus came to get us out of Hell and into Heaven.
          You think Jesus came to save us from sins and make us righteous.

          I agree… but that’s not why He came… and righteousness and Heaven are not the hope of glory.

          These things are merely byproducts of the hope of glory.

          The hope of glory is CHRIST IN YOU.

          The Gospel is that God has made Himself one with us.

          That was Jesus’ job and all He did He did to that end.

          If you don’t agree with that we won’t agree in these comments.

          That’s OK. I’m happy to agree to disagree.

          But I just can’t debate back and forward – please do respect that.

          • thank you for your clarity phil. Paul clarifys his mission to make all men see that Christ in us is everything he came to declare .people throughout the ages longed to see this. now we who have Christ in us are free to live the Christ life and demonstrate to the world who jesus is. so we choose to live the life of being famous for love.

      • Lucifer fell before Adam and chaos was upon the earth prior to and during creation. The snake was already ready and waiting so light and darkness existed in a spiritual sense from the start. We have day and night before the fall, so for light to have meaning there has to be darkness. Christ is the light of the world that dispels this darkness. God is good but the devil was a murder from the very beginning. The fall of Lucifer had a built in self destruction mode, and the knowledge of good and evil attainable for those desiring it. The prince of darkness is overtaken by the new bright morning star (satan’s previous title) our messiah.

        • The Light that is The Word of God, Jesus Christ, does not have to have darkness to be meaningful. You state it as a fundamental when there is no Biblical foundation for it. Darkness was found in Lucifer, and I agree that in his presence darkness was in the earth when God began His redemptive work in the earth. Darkness is now all smoke and mirrors and just as Adam and Eve we do not have to engage it or internalize it or give it value ever again.

        • colin- I don’t share your line of thinking. I do know that I was redeemed in Christ before I was ever lost in sin. my responsibility is to worship jesus Christ. represent Christ to a dark world. its simple not easy

      • Just a further point before bed! Foundational to our faith Paul says if Christ was not raised from the dead my preaching is useless, worthless and powerless. The same spirit in us is the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. With hindsight, If you were standing at the foot of the cross before the 2 thieves what comfort and hope would you have to offer them? When you answer that, what hope would you offer the rest of mankind who are basically waiting to die on death row? I hope you can now see the big picture? To the disciples squealing with delight at casting out a demon or two Jesus said in response, rejoice rather in your salvation! this is foundational and I urge you not to elevate your thinking above the word of God. We cast down false imaginations and every high thing that raises itself up beyond the word/knowledge of God. If that doesn’t convict you nothing will!

      • The angles of ‘God can never experience the redemption story, since they don’t sin and don’t need to be saved. They cannot understand the salvation process one bit, we can because while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Why do we use the word saved? what’s that all about? Jesus says you have let go of the commands of God and taken the traditions of man. God doesn’t like it when we nullify the word of God! It’s what comes out of the heart of man that makes him unclean, out of men’s heart come evil thoughts, sexual thoughts, slander, arrogance… all these things are from the inside and make a man unclean, how do we make ourselves clean enough for a relationship with Jesus? our righteous ness is not our own lest we should boast, so lets not pretend we are good enough or try to stoke egos to get there. He came to make us good. If anyone is ashamed of Jesus and His word in this adulterous and fornicating generation He will disown us. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

        Mark 7v21
        20And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21″For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.…

        Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

        Matthew 25:30
        And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

        Romans 3:11
        there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.

  3. Like John 3.16 for instance, few people know 1 John 3.16 “he died for us and thus we shall die for our brothers…”

  4. I think Romans 3:23 will work for the proud. It will work to bring them to the end of themselves. Unless someone is broken by the law, they wouldnt appreciate the beauty of grace or verse 24 on this matter.

    • I agree in part Jaymon – however I think there is a false dichotomy here in assuming that getting people to think about how terrible they are makes them humble and not proud.

      To me thinking less of yourself doesn’t make you humble.

      It’s to think of yourself less and set your eyes on Christ that makes you humble.

      To focus on how terrible we are still ultimately is pride. It’s false humility.

      However I do agree that Romans 3:23 does a great job at humbling the pride… but ONLY when combined with the surrounding verses. Otherwise it once again only focuses on ourselves and how terrible we are, not how great Christ is.

      • Yup. I believe once the law has done it’s job, then the person is ready for the gospel. If we dont give the good news about Christ, then we’ve missed the whole point.

        • Jaymon, I think you’ve got it wrong with giving them the law. They are condemned already. The law has done it’s job and was nailed to the cross. The law, guilt, and the anger of God are not the message of the Gospel. Christ was the end of the law, the end of guilt and the end of anger. What we need to give them is the message: Grace. Blessings.

          • I think ultimately we must recognise that Christians are not under the law (for that see my giant list of scriptures over here – http://phildrysdale.com/2013/10/37-scriptures-that-prove-christians-are-not-under-the-law/

            However we must remember that Jesus spoke of the importance of the law remaining and 1 Tim 1:8-10 says the law has a purpose still… To push those who don’t want a gift of righteousness to the end of themselves.

            When people don’t want God’s free gift of grace the law is there for them to toil under until they realise they can’t do it themselves and turn to grace.

            I may be mistaken but I think that’s what Jaymon was referencing.

            We don’t preach the law, nor do we ever put a Christian under the law but it does have it’s place for those who stubbornly want to give it another whirl haha

      • I think I have a convincing idea and really like this write up. The question is “should we come to God because of our condemnation or for the love and joy of Him and Heaven?” I think many christians have to sit and discover why they are christians first and why others should be too. I believe this conviction is what spearheads our style of evangelism. Praise God!

        • You have hit the nail on the head of what I’ve been saying in these comments! Thank you so much Akinboro!

          If we are simply saved from sin and hell then we surely live a terrible life.

          Surely we are saved from alienation from God! We are brought into a relationship with God!

          That is the central message of the gospel and in that sin, hell, heaven and righteousness all take care of themselves!

          Thanks again for taking the time to put it so well :)

      • Those saved the most love the most, if you read the testimony of john Newton and His song Amazing grace you will understand what a very wicked man he was, and his living testimony and song about grace saving a wretch like him stands through the ages. Contemporary song writers have attempted to remove the word wretch how presumptuous! He was not proud just agreeing with scripture, the heart of man is wicked and deceitful above all things. My finding a place where I feel good about my self outside my Lord and saviour is true arrogance, especially in the context that I think, I can be above His word and solution to my sin. Pop psychology can never resolve the depravity of man.

      • I need to be in a place where I can see my poverty and need for Jesus, that is separate issue to me bowing the knee, which follows a true conviction of sin. Just offering a relationship with Jesus isn’t enough until folk can recognise the condition of the soul in desperate need of a saviour. But blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Salvation is a process not a one off event, so we need to stay in the race, its a daily decision to put on Jesus. 85% of new converts walk away when the going gets tough, Jesus gave the whole picture to his followers. He promised persecutions and trouble like sparks off the anvil, If we teach and prepare people for this they are more likely to stay the race which is a marathon and not a sprint finish or flash in the pan.
        This is milk not meat were discussing and because you seem to be trying to reinvent the wheel, we have to go back to the fundamentals and check the foundation we are building on. Unless we get this right we should not presume or be quick to be teachers, because its the blind leading the blind and we will be doubly accountable for biblical error and/or misleading the flock. Jesus will eventually get his whip out like he did in the temple! He’s no pushover.

        • Colin said:> Salvation is a process not a one off event,

          Oh, Colin! My heart aches for you in this. I cannot agree with this in the least. I was washed clean, once for all, on the afternoon of January 16, 1983. At that point, Jesus became my sin, and I became His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches me that God made him who had no sin to be sin for me so that I might become (not have, but become) the righteousness of God. That happened one time.

          I have no need to get re-saved every day. I walk as righteousness, declared righteous, with the Spirit of God indwelling me, as a son, an heir.

          – damon

  5. Hi, Phil, love your insight as usual :) Wondering what your thoughts are on the “former sins” mentioned at the end of v. 25? It implies to me there may not be grace then for the current and future sins? Hoping you can provide perspective for me. Thanks :)

    • Hi Amber,

      Thanks for the question.

      I think again the context is very important – when we look at the verse it talks about God having great divine forbearance and forgiving all our past sins.

      It’s not talking about forgiveness being for past sins only (for there are far too many scriptures that repudiate that heresy) – it’s talking about the fact that God has forgiven all the sins He has watched the world commit knowing that Christ would come and once and for all take care of them.

      Hope that makes sense. I’m a bit rushed and bashing this out on my phone so hopefully I didn’t botch it too much :) haha Thanks for the question!

      • Thanks Phil, that helps. Would love your prayers friend because when I read Scripture I often find myself fearful – of all things that stick out to me, it’s stuff like “past sins only…” It’s like something in me is looking for the worst, when I want so desperately to be able to trust the absolute goodness of God toward me. It is like bondage or something I can’t seem to shake. I would love it if you could share sometime some of those “Scriptures that repudiate the heresy” because for my mind to be renewed I need to read them. A lot. :) So many lies that need to be unraveled for me. Thank you for the discipling you do.

        • No problem Amber – you should Google “are future sins forgiven” you will find lots of great arguments on both sides with lots of scriptures for each argument – few on either side use them in context either :)

          Here is something Carl Gobelman wrote on the topic:

          “Hebrews 9-10. In these chapters the author of Hebrews repeats the phrase “once for all” several times to emphasize the fact that Jesus, our High Priest, sacrificed himself for sin “once for all.” In that passage, there is one verse that succinctly summarizes what Jesus did on the cross: “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12; emphasis added). The one sacrifice of Jesus was enough to atone for all sins.

          This thought is addressed in Romans 5 where the apostle Paul says, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Romans 5:18; emphasis added). The point being that the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary was sufficient to deal with all of our sins.

          Going back to Hebrews, in Hebrews 9:24-26 the writer compares what Jesus did with what the Jewish high priest would do. The Jewish Day of Atonement was a solemn event performed once a year in which the high priest would offer atonement for the sins of the people. The fact that this had to be done each year was a testament to how serious sin was and how inadequate animal sacrifice was at atoning for sin. In contrast, Jesus offered his sacrifice once for all time because he offered his own blood, which is far more precious than the blood of bulls and goats (1 Peter 1:19). If the sacrifice of Jesus were not sufficient to cover all of our sins (past, present and future), then he would have to continually offer himself up for our sins.”

          Ultimately though Amber, It’s a debate as long as old as Christianity. I personally see it to be a hugely damaging belief and one that flies quite strongly in the face of both Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christianity. However it’s unlikely to be solved over night because someone points to a specific verse… there are too many that can be interpreted either way.

        • Hi Amber I have struggled in this area as most Christian’s do. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Who is the accuser of the Brethren? Jesus came to save not condemn, so when that accusing voice comes, command it to go in the name of Jesus. Surround your self with nice music, read and confess the word out loud and sing and praise the Lord making music in your heart, these are your weapons or warfare. Try and listen to Joyce Meyer ministries she’s real and has built her life and ministry upon renewing her mind in the living word!

        • Amber, I sit here typing this with tears because you live with fear.

          Bathe yourself in God’s perfect love because “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18. Rest in God’s grace and His completed work within you. Hebrews 4:3 says, “We who have believed enter that rest…” 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all (past, present, future) unrighteousness. Romans 8:1 says that there is NO condemnation, none, for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has set you free from the law of sin and death. You are FREE from any condemnation.

          Be at rest Amber. Be at peace. Be free. Give no audience to the accuser who is trying to bring you down. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. He loves you!

          – damon

  6. I have spent days marveling over Jesus’ interaction with sinners. He doesn’t treat them disdainfully but w gentleness and kindness. Here He is at the well with the Samaritan woman. Conversing with a woman of reputation. None of the other woman would go to get water with her even. She had to go to the well in the heat of the day. A good religious man would never talk to a woman or sumaritan let alone a woman who was a sumaritan. On top of that she was not regarded as an upstanding member of the woman’s civic club. Here is The Lord of Glory being Himself. He treated with dignity. He told her things about herself she knew He couldn’t know and she knew He loved her. She went and brought the whole village to Him. She had met love. He did speak truth but in love.

    Having heard the audible voice of God speak correction to me I can tell you one thing I knew what was wrong but more important I knew He loves me. I heard what He wanted me to do and I acted on it. But I always think about how much HE loves me. I can tell you when He corrected my behavior I knew in an instant what I had done and I was not going to argue my case. Btw what He was correcting was how I had judged one of His kids. I am very very careful now. I KNOW His heart on this matter.

    WWJD we need to really understand and meditate on His actions. We need to feel His Heart 4 His kids. You won’t be the same!

  7. Yeah, I don’t agree we should stop using this verse. I’ve seen many people become convinced of their need for Christ through reading this verse and become believers as a result. I can’t think of a single time, contrary to your complaint that we are only sharing the bad news, that this verse was used without immediately being followed up by sharing the Good News (such as the Romans Road). I agree context is important, but to suggest that we stop using this verse??? I would suggest God included this verse in the Scriptures for a reason and intends that it be read and used, so I could not disagree with you more. If you’re looking for out-of-context verses to write about, how about Revelation 3:20.

    • I agree that largely in part we use it as part of something bigger… But there are many who don’t and not only that because it is used as a part of something it becomes something we isolate and make a big deal… Something Paul doesn’t do!!! Paul is saying “this WAS a big deal” it is no longer a big deal!

      So ultimately I still think it’s very damaging to quote it on it’s own as it is emphasized much more than it needs to be and becomes a harmful verse for people to quote.

      Heck I’ve personally heard hundreds of Christians quote this verse as a present reality for believers!

      Also please do note, I didn’t say we stop using it – I said we need to use it in context and if we are going to cut out verses and only use one the one actually sharing the gospel and telling people how to get saved.

    • Love you my friend! Thanks for being a constant source of encouragement and a relentless preacher of the good news!

  8. Would you agree that no one can be saved unless they realize they are sinners in desperate need of a Savior? Just quoting v 24 would be worse than quoting only v23 IMO because it could make one think they are ok when they are not. Anyways I agree we need a balance but seems to me they are too many ear ticklers out there as it is. Thanks and God bless.

    • Hi Coby,

      I have to answer your question both yes and no.

      I don’t mean to weasel out of an answer though so let me explain.

      No – we don’t need to know we are sinners in desperate need for a savior. A knowledge of sin is not a prerequisite for salvation. Nowhere in the NT does anyone require anyone else to acknowledge their sin before they get saved.

      Salvation comes by believing and repenting.

      Believing – to believe in Jesus and that He died to restore you into relationship with the Father.

      Repenting – to change the way you think (literally the meaning of “metanoia”)

      So no I don’t believe you HAVE to know you are a sinner.

      But yes to your answer because the Holy Spirit convicts unbelievers of their sin (John 16:9) If there is an unbeliever out there that is not aware of their sin then we must say that the Holy Spirit is not very good at a third of His job according to John 16:8-11.

      They may say “well I believe I’m a good person” or “‘y good outweighs my bad” but they know they aren’t perfect and know they have many failings.

      Ultimately though as I said to Colin above. This view of evangelism comes from a messed up view of salvation.

      One that things Jesus came to save us from our sins.

      That’s not the gospel. It’s a byproduct of the gospel. Jesus had to deal with sin once and for all. But that was just a means to an end.

      The gospel is that Jesus died on a cross so that God could reconcile the cosmos to Himself (2 Cor 5:21)

      The gospel is about relationship.

      When we make it about sin then we have to convince people they are sinners first.

      When we understand the truth that it’s about relationship then we don’t need to do anything. Anyone who is separate from god knows they are!

      We are left simply proclaiming the good news – “God, in Christ, has done the whole work of reconciliation already without any assistance from you or me, do you want to enter into this relationship freely, just as you are?”

      Those are my thoughts anyway. Hope that helps clarify

      • The bible says he died for my sins where does it say he just died for a nice cosy relationship and a fireside chat? Just as through one man Adam, sin entered the world (The main problem) then by one man, The second Adam sin was dealt with (the solution to the worlds problem). People love sin why do they want a relationship with someone who is light telling them its wrong? when they love darkness? This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. That is why the holy spirit needs to convict of sin first and foremost before anything changes? You and I quoting this word (that doesn’t come back void) can therefore be used as a messenger of salvation just like our hero’s of the faith. He says to the woman caught in adultery go and sin no more, unless this happens we don’t have relationship, if there is a formula renounce sin then find relationship. The prodigal son had to realise his spiritual state and realise he’d sinned before heaven and his earthly father, before he could fully return and embrace the father. We have to believe in our heart that Jesus is raised from the dead and confess with our mouth He is Lord, renouncing the devil and his works especially if we want to escape the pig sty! “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ if there is a proof text you’ve just read it, I’ve SINNED and I REPENT! right there! now we can relate as father and son!

      • Phil said: > Nowhere in the NT does anyone require anyone else to acknowledge their sin before they get saved.

        I can’t think of an example. It may be “implied” but I cannot think of a place where this is stated as a requirement. Indeed, the only required confession I can come up with is that we “confess Jesus is Lord.” Romans 10:9.

        – damon

  9. I don’t agree with this. We need to be preaching 90% sin and 10% grace. A person doesn’t want a boat if they don’t realize they are drowning.

    • Anna – I’ve answered this argument a few times already in the comments so I will paste one of the answers in here – hope you understand me not typing out another unique reply :)

      This view of evangelism comes in my opinion from a messed up view of salvation.

      One that things Jesus came to save us from our sins.

      That’s not the gospel. It’s a byproduct of the gospel. Jesus had to deal with sin once and for all. But that was just a means to an end.

      The gospel is that Jesus died on a cross so that God could reconcile the cosmos to Himself (2 Cor 5:21)

      The gospel is about relationship.

      When we make it about sin then we have to convince people they are sinners first.

      When we understand the truth that it’s about relationship then we don’t need to do anything. Anyone who is separate from god knows they are!

      We are left simply proclaiming the good news – “God, in Christ, has done the whole work of reconciliation already without any assistance from you or me, do you want to enter into this relationship freely, just as you are?”

  10. I completely agree that the primary focus should be on the hope of the gospel. Most who come to belief in Christ have already been broken by their sin and see their need. I do feel, however, that the message of man’s sinfulness should not be neglected however. Yes, Paul here was speaking to Christians, but he was sharing with them the message of the gospel which he preached to all men. Jesus Himself preached both sides…”Repent and believe the gospel.” There can be no repentance without the acknowledgement of sin and need for forgiveness. There can be no rebirth without a death to self first. That said, we shouldn’t linger there, but move quickly to the life and hope we have in Jesus Christ.

    • Thanks for sharing Tony – I see where you are coming from and I agree in part but I think we are on slightly different pages.

      Especially on repentance… You say “there can be no repentance without the acknowledgement of sin and need for forgiveness.” But I don’t see that as a prerequisite for repentance anywhere in the Bible. It sure CAN be a part of the process. But it doesn’t seem to be required.

      Repentance does not have anything to do with sin.

      Repentance from sins does.

      But repentance itself simply means “change your mind”. We insert our sin obsessed Christianity into repentance to turn repentance into a word which revolves around sin.

      Repentance requires us to turn from one way of thinking to another. That could be sin, but you could just as easily argue it was one way of thinking about God to another. One way of thinking about yourself to another etc. there are many ways to interpret it and a sin focused interpretation isn’t necessarily the most clear in scripture.

      For more on this topic I’ve commented in depth in quite a few of the comments above… The comment I responded to Coby with May be of particular interest.

  11. I agree with you Phil……

    Everyone knows John 3 16 but should put 3 17 with it.

    Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save it. Plus we know that there is no condemnation in those through Christ Jesus.

    The problem is we just don’t love like Jesus loves. Love keeps no record of wrong. It also covers any darkness that needs to be brought to the light. You shouldn’t have to tell someone how bad they are. Lime you said that’s the Holy Spirit job.let him do his job and let us love one another . Isn’t that what Jesus said thats how we would be.known that we are one of his?

    • Thanks for sharing Ryan – John 3:17 is one of my favourite passages… it adds so much depth to John 3:16 as you say!

  12. Incredible teaching in that article! Wow. Thank you again for your patience and discussion! One day I hope to be able to overflow with boldness and assurance of all these things.

  13. I feel within myself a religious voice saying, “but…it’s to all who believe”, and then my church indoctrination of what defines believing kicks in. I’m sure other believers are invited into this conflict as well and it is helpful to realized this is a religious spirit making the argument and not The Spirit of God. There are as many denominational definitions of believing as there are for santification-all manmade. Paul is simply stating the simple Good News: The gift is freely given to all those who believe the gift is freely given! I see the picture of someone holding out a wrapped package to another person, saying here-this is for you, and that person from fear, doubt or cynicism raising an eyebrow instead of taking the package. The package is freely given. If you will not take it nothing is changed about the package, the giver or the fact that it is yours. The only thing that has happened is you have denied yourself the right to enjoy the gift, I know Jesus loved children for many reasons but I have to think that one of the biggest was he’d never seen a child pass up a present. I don’t plan to pass up another one in my lifetime.

    • Absolutely Stephany – this is a huge deal – the good news of the gospel is that it is freely given to all – it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us, forgiving us of sin. It’s in the acceptance of His free gift of grace that we get to experience it.

      I talk about it in my my blog on “faith” over here if you are interested – phildrysdale.com/021

    • Stephany said:> I feel within myself a religious voice saying, “but…it’s to all who believe”, and then my church indoctrination of what defines believing kicks in.

      Stephany, that’s a great line. I had to read it about four times, it is so good. Yes, to all who believe, but then as you note, the guardians of orthodoxy kick into high gear in order to impose on us their definition of what belief is. When this happens, we turn belief into a personal effort, a goal to be achieved. I have achieved belief level 13. Where are you? Oh, you’re only at level nine? Well, soldier on, Christian. You’ll reach an acceptable belief level soon enough.

      I’ve noted in other places that the mainline church definition of faith/belief leads us to the question, not “do I believe,” but rather, “do I believe enough?” We know that it is by grace we are saved through faith and not through works, but in the scenario you have mentioned above, we have created a case where belief, or faith IS the work. We are trusting in our ability to believe rather than trusting in the object of that faith, Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead.

      More an more, I am coming to the place of understanding that my walk with Christ has less to do with what I DO than whom I trust.

      • Damon, How joyful I am at your understanding of what I said!! You are so right that faith/belief has been turned into a work by religious teachers and their followers. The church has become faith judges as dogmatically as salvation judges. I have heard so many religious people judging the faith of others by the circumstances of their lives. If they are poor it’s because they haven’t enough faith, If they are sick it’s because they haven’t enough faith, and on and on and on. It’s criminal. Our faith is The Faith of Jesus! Just imagine if we judged Mary’s faith on her circumstances, or Paul’s. When we begin to compare what we’ve been taught to those empowered by The Spirit in The Word the teachings just fall apart.

        • Stephany said:> Just imagine if we judged Mary’s faith on her circumstances, or Paul’s.

          Oh, you are so right! I’m very pleased to not be a slave to my circumstances.

          “Our circumstances are simply that – circumstances. We must get beyond the default response of reacting to God in light of our circumstances, and train ourselves to react to our circumstances in light of God.” – Finding Faith in Slow Motion

  14. In SA we have just had elections.
    Our president was called a thief by the opposition party because he stole R230Million to rebuild his homestead. ANC ruling party took them to court whose judgement was “it was fair comment”. He was in court 6 yrs ago for rape & a thousand other things too numerous.
    Voting came & he never lost a vote. Everyone wondered why.
    Go to the folowing address & see why
    Briefly it explains mans basic cultural motivations. There are 3 in the world
    1. Right & wrong. A western culture
    2. Honour. Some asian & mid east countries. Heard of honour killings?
    3. Power & fear. African culture. Our president did & does much wrong, but it means nothing to the cultural African… (too long to explain, go to the post I suggested)
    If you’re not western culture living in Africa it will mean nothing to you. BUT if you are it is like a light shining in the darkness & opens up a huge understanding of why Africa with all it has, is like it is.
    What has this to do with Phils post?
    Our culture is based on right & wrong. We all know it & everything, all our laws are based on it.
    Go to another country eg Africa or where honour is the cultural standard & right & wrong is another issue & only exists in the context of the culture.
    EG if im the big chief I can do what I like. Right for me is not right for you etc etc.
    I don’t know the answer, but what will the situation be where right & wrong, good or bad is not static, it’s different for different people.
    If one is to repent….change your mind what do they change it from & to. I don’t think they will know what wrong is (God’s wrong I mean)….sin
    Foe example, do they kill someone who blasphemes God or love him or whatever.
    They won’t know unless they are told.
    They won’t know right unless they know what is wrong & WHY it is wrong. Because their culture is not based on right & wrong, & the Bible is written about Gods right & wrong, in face thats where the western world got its right & wrong from. Were brought up with it.
    What Phil correctly keeps saying…CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT.
    This is a thing even very few white western cultural Africans like myself living in Africa understand.
    A lot of what we say is from our cultural context.
    The Bible is for everyone, we mustn’t box it. One shoe don’t fit all.
    Please read the above post address i gave. It’s very enlightening
    Be Blessed

  15. Hi Phil, thanks for sharing but I do kindly disagree with your discernment of the passage.

    Basically Romans 3:23-24 are saying we are unrighteousness or walked astray not because we are such fowl creatures but because we did not or refused to walk our lives with God and develop a relationship with him, and disobeyed Him. However the good news is that even if we have fallen short, we don’t need to die unforgiven like it used to be in the Old Testament. If we repent, ie saying sorry, we are forgiven and given a chance able to again start a relationship with God and Jesus again because Jesus died on the cross. It’s a wonderful message!

    The key here is relationship, God love can only be shown when we are in the right relationship with God. In order to receive God’s love we need to be willing to develop a relationship with him with no preconceived human ideas, as stated in James 4:8 and Malachi 3:7. That’s why The Bible teaches us to surrender all because God cannot give us love if we are not ready to receive it.

    The problem we are using our human interpretation of love on our relationship with our God. Our human way of love is a one way receiving end of all the lovey dovey warm feeling and when things don’t go the way we go, we complain!!!. That’s why we hear both Christians and non-Christians say “If God loves us, why doesn’t he do this and that”, “I thought You loves me God” or we see Christians cower in the face of trouble because to preserve “God’s loving peace” etc.

    We cannot tell people how God loves them if they don’t have the hearts to receive it. I therefore believe it is irresponsible for us to only teach Love of Christ with our lovey dovey human thoughts of love when we don’t even know what God’s love is and when we don’t know what our heart condition is!!. Therefore I disagree with you of not preaching the “bad news” of Roman 3:23, because if we don’t know Romans 3:23, then we don’t know how to receive God’s Love, or allow people to receive God’s Love, because we don’t know we are out of relationship with God.

    • Hey Joey – I guess you are new to this ministry as I don’t recognise you from other comments. The reason I say this is it seems to me we are largely on the same page and you are misunderstanding me.

      Even in the comments above I’ve said again and again it’s all about relationship.

      The reason we warp Romans 3:23 so out of context and end up using it without 3:24 is because we like to make everything about sin and holiness when ultimately those are fruits of the primary thing. Union with God.

      To me that’s why I don’t like seeing Romans 3:23 quoted without 3:24.

      Like I said, I don’t want to see 3:23 done away with, I just think it’s hugely misunderstood when removed from the surrounding verses. It allows us to make everything about our actions when it’s never been about our actions but whether we find our identity in Adam or Christ. And that is entirely founded on our choice to believe the world or to believe God.

      To me when we understand that God’s love is unconditional that while we were still sinners He died to save us. That we were forgiven long before we even existed. That is to see a glimpse of just how huge God’s love is. It helps us understand that while Romans 3:23 was true, it is no longer true if we choose to enjoy God’s free gift of Grace!

      As I said, we might disagree on a few semantics but I think we are largely on the same page. Hope that helped clarify where I’m coming from anyway.

  16. Hi Phil,
    I can say I agree with many things you say. From my experience, the fact that Christ entered into my heart and mind and has loved me relentlessly, continually, and always has freed me to love life, love other people, and fully use my talents and life to serve Almighty God through Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Good News is what has changed my life. Heaven and Hell seem so far way at times, but this life is now and I need Him now. Thanks for your ministy and I pay for you and want to encourage you. Richard

  17. I think you miss the point. The reason Christians quote it so much is because we live in a world that tries to justify itself so much by its good works. Nearly every conversation I get into about being right with God the opposition always lays out why God shouldn’t judge them because they are so good. But of course their goodness is measured against their own standard, but as Paul is at pains to let the Romans know, is that we are measured against God’s standard and when measured against that, we fall the proverbial ‘short of the glory of God”. There is no point quoting v24 until you show as Paul did in Rmns1, that he was not ashamed of the gospel “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”, but salvation from what? From the wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. As has often been quoted before, Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people live! Men are dead in their trepasses and sins and humanity needs to be given the proper diagnosis as to their malady , so to me it is plain, you have to have the bad news to appreciate the good news. As for the Church being fixated with telling people how bad they are, if only that were true, and I presume when you say that, you are talking about those who are outside of salvation, and if the Church is doing that to peole who are self-righteous then she is only following in the steps of her Master. Please tell me how you tell someone nicely that they are a sinner without them getting offended. The self-righteous always will, but it is in the way they respond to the one who became the offense for them that matters, and that is where we have to be sure we present the law in all its awfulness and Christ in all His beauty and lovliness trusting in the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. The Church has to be likened sometimes to the physician, she sometimes has unpleasant news to tell you, but at least there is a cure. It is because the Church has moved away from confronting sin and is now accommodating it, that we have seen the increase of wickedness in our world. The evangelistic aspect of the church will always be an offense to the world, it is the domain of spiritual warfare, and warfare is not pleasant but at least our truth brings life and not death.

  18. Phil, the problem with this generation is that we know the bible through our Pastors. Many Christians just want to come to the church on sunday , hear one prophecy or the other and go back home. Studying the bible is now left for the pastors- how devastating!
    Now concerning this, I hate hearing people say it to justify that they can’t attain the best possible position in God. It is sad. Verse 24, you rock!

    • Very true – thankfully I think the internet more than anything has completely transformed the way we learn and think for ourselves.

      We are now exposed to countless other beliefs and ways of thinking and it’s very hard for us to become indoctrinated into thinking just one perspective is the only valid one.

      • It is alarming how we take Christianity these days. We want to have access to the Spiritual like we access Google.
        I de people searching things like, “give me a love message for my love” and being a know-it-all, Google corrects them and provides a profound answer. They are coming back to ask the same way.
        And as defeating as it is, people want to access God through this means. Some think the gospel is a plate of chicken and chips; people want to just get the blessings and nothing more.
        Gid will sure help us.

        Stay great Phil

  19. Preach the whole gospel. No one should decide what pieces of Scripture are more effective to use to change people’s heart because we don’t do the changing. Blessings.

  20. Excellent! And actually, the sentence may end with verse 24, but that’s just the ESV version. The sentence actually continues and finally finishes at verse 28! ;)

    “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:23-26)

  21. Hi Phil, unfortunately, we have all been sold a pup, we have been led to believe that the Law is bad and that we shouldn’t teach it to people, just tell them about the grace of God.
    The problem is, the Law, in particular, the Commandments, teach us how to love God and love our neighbour. Have a close look at them and tell me which one I shouldn’t keep.
    Is it ok to commit adultery, maybe rob a bank, covet all my neighbours goods, commit murder etc?
    Jesus went over this time and time again, as did the Apostles.
    When will the Church take the scales off their eyes and stop looking at the Law as a punishment.
    When you look at it through the veil, ie. the flesh, that’s all you see, a law that brings death. When you look at it through the Spirit, you see it for what it is, the way and will of God.
    James calls it, the Law of Liberty, as do I.
    It is a light to our path and a lamp to our feet.
    It doesn’t save me from my sin, but I know what sin is and how to avoid it, through faith, working by love.
    Psalm 119 sums up how I feel about the Commandments.
    By the way, there was two covenants made in the desert with Israel, one at Horeb, and one at Moab. (Deut. 29:1), the one at Horeb, was the Ten Commandments and the instructions for worship, the one at Moab was the Mosaic law, which was added because of transgressions.
    When Jesus was dealing with the Pharisees about issues about the law, He said the truth about the law, He said “I desire compassion, not sacrifice, go and learn what this means.”
    The Sadduccees and the Pharisees, had turned the Commandments into a religion, instead of the real desire of God, to have love for your neighbour.
    I know it is hard to tell people about the Gospel, when we have a sense of judgement about the Commandments, but when you see that God gave us “How to love God and love your neighbour 101”, then it makes it so much easier. Sure we all fall short, we didn’t know any better, but now, by faith, we establish the Law.
    If we obey the Gospel of God, we don’t even come near being under the law and the penalties for sin, if we put to death those lusts and desires of the flesh, by the Spirit, we are called the sons of God. (Rom.8:12-15. Gal 5:22-24.)
    So it’s not all grace, it’s grace and truth, and Jesus said that God’s Word is truth. (John 17:17)
    Jesus said, “The truth will set you free”, He came to fulfill the law, so we also fulfill the law by the Spirit, that is by love.
    Paul said in 1Cor. 7:19
    19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.
    And in 1 John 2:3-4
    3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
    And in 1 John 3:21-24
    21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

    23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
    And in 1 John 5:2-3
    2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and [e]observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome
    And 2 John 1:4-6
    4 I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. 5 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
    And in Rev. 12:17
    17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
    And in Rev.14:12
    12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
    So it seems that the Commandments are important and should be kept.
    However, you decide whom you follow, the way of lawlessness, or the way of the Commandments.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Peter – I replied to your other lengthy comment on my article about the law. You are most welcome to disagree with me but I’m afraid this is not a new view or perspective to me that you are presenting… I’m very well versed in those passages, I interpreted them the way you did for many years. And now I just can’t in good conscience interpret them in that way now that the Lord has shown me differently.

      For that reason I think we are doomed to agree to disagree.

      You will be far from alone in your thoughts – but I can’t say I agree :) I will most certainly keep preaching about what I feel to be the truth until God shows me differently.

      Thanks again for sharing.

  22. let us think on this pls
    1. Justification comes in every case as a gift, not as a prize discovered or earned. “Being justified freely.” Part of the beneficial influence of the gospel is the blow it administers to human notions of desert, and pride is a chief obstacle to enrichment by this gift of God.

    2. To all men the kindness of God is the source of their salvation. God first loved and sought the sinner, not contrariwise. His “grace” is the fountain of redemption.

    3. The same Divine method of deliverance is employed for all. “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” There is but one way to the Father, whether men walk thereon consciously or unconsciously, in heathen twilight or gospel noontide, in Jewish anticipation or Christian realization. The one atonement can cover all transgression. Pst Haruna

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