Introduction: The cross has so much to teach us! It shows us the
depth of God’s intolerance towards sin and the depth of His love
towards us. Let’s dive in and see what we can learn!


    1. How do you feel today? We recently took a church survey
      and most people felt they were growing spiritually. Is
      that the way you feel?
    1. Let’s look at some verses in Romans 3. Read Romans 3:10-12. Whoa! Is that us? Is that you?

      1. When I fail, I want to know where I went wrong. Let’s
        list the problems here:

        1. Not righteous (v.10);

        2. Not understand (v.11);

        3. Not seek God (v.11 – a real problem if you don’t

        4. Turned away and become worthless(v.12 – this is
          the same term used for milk going bad); and,

        5. Do not do good (v.12).

      2. Can you give me a one or two word summary for these
        problems we just identified? (Bad attitude.)

    2. Let’s read on. Romans 3:13-14. What does it mean when it
      says their “throat is an open grave?” (You have heard of
      “speed kills.” This is “words kill.”)

      1. Does this sound right to you? A bad attitude is
        manifest in bad speech?

    3. Let’s read on. Romans 3:15-17. What is the next step in
      sin described here? (Bad actions.)

      1. Why does verse 17 talk about “the way of peace?” What
        does it mean not to know the way of peace? (“A way”
        would mean a path. Their daily life is headed in the
        wrong direction. This means they have evil habits.)

    4. I am going to preach a sermon next month on this very
      issue. The sermon says this:

      1. Thoughts -> Words

      2. Words -> Actions

      1. Actions -> Habits

      2. Habits -> Destiny.

    1. If you want to know where the sin battle is lost or found,
      it is in the mind!

    2. Did you notice the NIV (and some other modern language
      translations) put many of these verses we have just read
      in quotations? Why is that? (Barclay’s commentary on
      Romans (p.55) explains that Paul is stringing together a
      number of rough quotations from the Old Testament. This
      common rabbinic method of teaching is called “charaz,”
      which means “stringing pearls.”)

    3. Is this description of the progression of sin a
      description of us? How would you like someone to describe
      you this way? Is this how God views us? Or is this what we
      used to be? Let’s read on to see what Paul says. Read
      Romans 3:19-21.

      1. What would you say if you were taking a test and you
        found that the person sitting next to you had been
        given a much easier test? Assume this is a
        competitive test for a job. Same job, just one
        applicant had a much lower standard for judgment.
        (You would be annoyed and angry if you had the harder

        1. Is that what is being described in verse 19?
          That some are taking the harder test because
          they are “under the law?”

        2. Can anyone pass the harder test? (No)

      2. Is Paul saying that we are all too dumb (evil,
        actually) to pass this test, but some are not graded
        by the normal standards? (I think that is exactly
        what he is saying. Remember that sin is progressive.
        I do not know where you are on this line of
        progression. (I assume you are not at the “shedding
        blood” part.) But wherever you are, the application
        of the law shows you (we) are unrighteous. We need a
        new test. Let’s explore that next.)


    1. Read Romans 3:22-24 to find out about this “righteousness
      apart from law” – the easier test – that is described in
      v. 21. What is the “way out?” How do you get the “easier
      test?” (These verses again say that we have all sinned. We
      have all fallen short. There is no difference in our
      ability to pass the test of the law. The only way to pass
      the test and to become righteous, is through faith in
      Jesus Christ.)

    2. Tell me, in practical terms, what is described in verse
      24? (Jesus redeemed us. He took the “hard test” for us.)

    3. Let’s read on to learn more about this redemption. Read
      Romans 3:25-26. Harking back to the sacrificial system,
      verse 25 says that “God presented [Jesus] as a sacrifice
      of atonement,” and that (v.26) “demonstrate[d]” God’s
      “justice at the present time.”

      1. How did this demonstrate God’s justice?

      2. It sounds like cheating to me. Somebody else took and
        passed a test I could not pass! How is this
        appropriate? (All of the progressive evil that we
        discussed in verses 10-18 is more repulsive to God
        than it is to us. (And I thought it sounded pretty
        bad.) Someone had to pay the penalty for those sins,
        and these verses tell us that Jesus paid that
        penalty. It is not appropriate, it is a gift!)

    4. Would you do it? Would you give up your only son for the
      kind of people described in vv. 10-18?

      1. Who would do that kind of thing and why? (Someone who
        loved the people or hated His Son. Since we know
        that the Son agreed ( John 10:17-18), it means God has
        this unbelievable love for us.)

    5. After giving up your son for those kinds of people, would
      you just abandon them? (Here is the heart of the proof
      that our salvation logically requires the Second Coming.
      Why would God give up His Son, why would the Son give up
      His life, if they were not going to “complete the job?”)


    1. We get the easy test. We get “hired” (saved), what kind of
      workers should we be? Should we act like we are not
      really qualified for the job? Should we act like the law
      has no bearing on us? Let’s read on: Romans 3:27-28 & 31.

      1. Should we say, “Na na na na, I passed the test?”

      2. What kind of boasting do you think Paul refers to in
        v. 27? (The idea that you are more righteous than
        some one else. You teach the class, therefore you
        must be more righteous, right? Wrong!)

      3. How would you “uphold” the hard test if you did not
        have to take it? How do we “uphold” (v.31) the law?

    2. Let’s move ahead a few chapters in Romans. Read Romans
      8:1-3. What does it mean to be “set free from the law of
      sin and death?”

      1. How was the law (v.3) weakened by sinful nature? The
        law is the law, what do we have to do with the nature
        of the law? (The purpose of the law is to reveal God
        and His plan for better living. Because of our weak,
        sinful nature, the law is not able to do its job.)

    3. Let’s finish this idea. Read Romans 8:4-6. We learned that
      we cannot keep the law, we cannot pass the “hard test.” We
      also learned that we must “uphold” the law. How do these
      verses suggest that we uphold the law?

      1. What are we told to do – other than just casually
        accept the gift of salvation? (We are told (v.4) to
        “live … according to the Spirit” and not “according
        to the sinful nature.”)

      1. How do we do that? Is this some sort of “trick” to
        reintroduce the requirement of keeping the law?
        (Verse 5 contains the answer: we set our minds on
        what God desires and not on what our human nature

      2. Did I bring you back full-circle? Where is the
        battle fought? (Your mind!)

    1. Jesus has paid the penalty for sin. He took the “hard
      test” that we cannot pass. However, we must accept His
      sacrifice and we must “uphold” the law. If this acceptance
      and upholding is primarily a matter of our mind, list for
      me what you think we should and should not be doing to
      “set our minds on what the Spirit desires?”

    2. Read Romans 6:1-5. What is our relationship to sin after
      we are saved? (Verse 1 tells us we died to sin, we no
      longer “live in it.”)

      1. What do you think it means to “live” in sin?

      2. What do verses 4-5 suggest is the point of Jesus
        taking the hard test for us? What is the point of His
        death on our behalf?

      3. Is the resurrection, the Second Coming, the “point”
        according to Paul?

    3. Friend, Jesus came to pass a test we cannot pass. His
      death on our behalf is a gift. We cannot pride ourselves
      in this gift. But we must determine to set our mind on
      doing His will (as revealed in His law). If we believe all
      this – that Jesus came and died in our place, and arose to
      life eternal – then we can have confidence that He will
      come again to “finish the job” of saving us. Praise God!

  1. Next week: The Sanctuary and the Second Coming.