Lesson 8 - Romans 3:9-20 What Man Is

Now that all objections have been met and Jew and Gentile stand condemned before the bar of God the final verdict is given. We have the statement of the court’s findings in this case against man, wherein the entire human race is convicted and found guilty.

(1) The Case against man is “proved” vs 9. Now that all the world has been at the trial, what is the result? Has it been proved that the Jew is better than the Gentile—the religious sinner more excusable than the immoral? No, in no wise. It has been proved that all are under sin. The weight of sin is upon all. This is a proven fact. There is no appeal from this for it is a “Supreme Court Decision.”

(2) The Case against man is summarized, 10-18 The voice of the law is heard for the voices of self-defense and self- assertion are silenced at last. Passage after passage from the Old Testament are marshalled to bear witness against both Jew and Gentile. From the Psalms, from the Proverbs and from Isaiah come the charges, each quotation adding a bit of drab to the dark picture of man.

An unattractive African Princess, who was flattered into thinking herself most beautiful, smashed a mirror into a thousand pieces, when it revealed her true features. Hateful words were uttered about the mirror, but her features were not made more beautiful thereby, facts remain and are stubborn things. “Foolish woman” we say, “You cannot change facts this way.” Let us not be foolish, but listen to what God says about us. Let us recognize ourselves as we look into God’s mirror, His law. There are fourteen distinct features that make up this picture—fourteen distinct counts in this indictment. The first six give us a general description of the human heart. Notice how the words “none” and “all” are repeated in solemn cadence. All these are quotations from Ps. 14.

1. God demands a righteousness but there is no one who has it. vs. 11.

2. There is no one who has any sense of divine things, vs. 11.

3. There is no one who seeks after God. vs. 11.

4. They are all lost having all left the right road. vs. 12.

5. They have all become good for nothing—12.

6. There is not a man who does good, not even so many as one. vs. 12.

After this general description of the human race, we have man brought under God’s exray. Robert Burns, the Scotch poet wrote about the blessing of “seeing ourselves as others see us.” Here we see ourselves as God sees us.

7. The throat is like an opened grave, vs. 13. Our polluted words are like the stench of death coming as they do from a putrid heart.

8. The tongue is an instrument of deceit being the index to the heart which is “deceitful above all things” —hopelessly diseased. Jer. 17:9.

9. The lips are the gateway to all the poison that has been inserted into our heart by that old serpent, the devil.

10. The mouth is brim full of cursing and bitterness, vs. 14, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

11. The feet are swift to shed blood (vs. 15). Hatred in the heart makes man a murderer. Think of the blood of the Lord Jesus.

12. Wherever the feet of man go you can trace them by the ruin and distress they leave behind (vs. 16).

13. The way of peace the foot of man has never trodden because he knows it not. (vs. 17).

14. The eyes are blinded to the fear of God, there is no light in them. Therefore man has trodden the pathway of death.

(3) The Case against man is closed, vs. 19, 20. It comes at last—the final verdict of the court. Solemn silence reigns as the voice of the law is heard. Harsh and muffled voices alike are hushed. Every man must, like Job “lay his hand upon his mouth.” This mighty chain of evidences has encircled the whole world and dragged them in “guilty before God.” Every mouth is stopped and only God, the Judge can speak now. What will He say? Will He condemn? Will He hurl forth His anathemas? Or is there, can there be mercy and forgiveness? Listen guilty, silent soul, and thou shalt know. If thou but hear, then thy soul shall live.


1. Which of the Old Testament books are quoted, containing charges against the sinner?

2. Write statements, telling how the throat, tongue, lips, mouth and feet, tell what is in the heart of man.

3. What is the final verdict of the court?