Glad Tidings of God: No. 4

Romans 2-3
Every Mouth Stopped.
The apostle has declared that " the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness." And now he proceeds to show that the Gentiles, to whom were manifest the " eternal power and deity" of God through the things that were made, were " ungodly;" and that the Jews, to whom " were committed the oracles of God," were unrighteous. Both had sinned against the light they had; the Gentiles without law; and the Jews under law. Both Jews and Gentiles were guilty. Every mouth was stopped; the whole world was guilty before God. Such is the solemn truth contained in the first three chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, The Gentiles were without law, but they had the knowledge of God as Creator, and they sinned against that, and were " without excuse, because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things." Such was the downward course of the Gentiles in their departure from God, when they knew Him as Creator. " Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever." Sad result of departure from God! Not only most fearful guilt, but most terrible corruption, and most deplorable degradation! And if any one will read through the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, he will see more in detail the Gentile character and condition delineated in the most fearful colors. And yet this is just what is true of man as an apostate from God. There might have been philosophers among them, teachers and reformers and philanthropists, perhaps less degraded outwardly, but they too were inexcusable, for, while they judged others, •they did the same thing. There was not one to help another. All were overwhelmed in one common ruin.
Was the Jew better? In no way. The Jews had the law, and through breaking the law dishonored God. They had the oracles of God, and obeyed them not, and through them, while they professed to be teachers, the Name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles. Thus Jews and Gentiles were alike under sin. The Jew had no room to boast, for the very law in which he boasted condemned him as a law-breaker: " As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one: there is none that under-standeth; there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes." Such was the testimony of the law. To whom did the law thus speak? It spoke to those who were under it, the Jews: " We know, that what things so ever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law." Thus every mouth is stopped. The Jew cannot boast more than the Gentiles. If the Gentile was lawless and ungodly, the Jew was a law-breaker and unrighteous. The whole world was brought in guilty before God, and the solemn conclusion reached, that " by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight."
Reader, do you think to be justified by the deeds of the law? Then let me say to you, that you deny that you are now a sinner, and thus nullify the word of God, and make Him a liar, for He says, "All have sinned." (Rom. 3) " If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:1010If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10).) Besides, you think to accomplish a task that not one of Adam's race has ever performed, or can perform. The word of God distinctly teaches that righteousness cannot be had by the law. " There is none righteous, no, not one." " As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal. 3:1010For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10).) " If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Gal. 2:2121I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:21).) Let him who thinks to be justified by the law ponder these solemn declarations of God's word. Instead of getting righteousness by the law, he who is under it only gets the knowledge of sin by it, "for by the law is the knowledge of sin." The law is a righteous plummet by which man's moral condition is measured, and which proves the presence of sin in him, and declares him a sinner.
When the law is applied to man, and its spirituality is known, the exceeding sinfulness of sin is discovered. It causes the offense to abound. It does not create sin, but it provokes it; because it forbids the will of the flesh—forbids the working of sin. So it was with Israel. They thought to do whatever the Lord said. Did they keep the law? The first of the ten words the Lord uttered was, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." How did they keep this commandment? They made a golden calf, offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, danced around it, and sang its praises, saying, " These be thy gods, Ο Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." And such it was to the end, for the bright days of Solomon's reign were scarcely passed, till they were sunk with the nations around them in the grossest idolatry. So it is always, whether with the individual, the nation, or the race. The law knows the presence of sin, but can never remove it, or give righteousness. Man is a sinner, and only a sinner before God. From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot there is no soundness, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; and for this condition there is no help in the law. The law only shows more fully that the evil is there, and, instead of removing, provokes it by forbidding its workings.
Reader, do you still expect to get righteousness by the law? Then you expect something contrary to the word of God. If God's word be true, righteousness does not come in that way. The law will give you the knowledge of sin, but that will not heal your malady. If a man is dying of consumption, knowing it will not cure him. It was never God's mind that the sinner should be healed by the law. It was His mind by it to let man know that he is a sinner; and he who has not discovered this has read the word of God to little purpose. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." a The law entered that the offense might abound:" " that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." " Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions till the Seed should come." It was not given to hinder transgressions, for there were none before it was given; for where no law is there is no transgression (Rom. 4:1515Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (Romans 4:15)): but it was given for the sake of transgressions, that is, to prove that man who was lawless without law, is a transgressor under law. Thus law brought out sin in the character of transgression, and proved man a lost sinner without righteousness and without strength.
The whole scenery of Mount Sinai, too, falls in with this truth. God kept Himself there shut up in the enclosure of His own holiness. The law was given by the disposition of angels. It was not God coming clown to meet man's need, but sending him a law demanding righteousness, while He Himself remained at a distance and unrevealed. But man had no righteousness, and so the law was only condemnation and death to him. God shut Himself up in the midst of the fire, and man was held at a distance. There was no approach to God at Sinai. Barriers were placed around the mountain, and not even a beast was to touch it. Man or beast touching it was to be stoned, or thrust through with a dart. The mountain, too, was all in a flame, it burned with fire, " because the Lord descended upon it in fire, and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly."
Sinner, let me lead you into the presence of this scene. Gaze upon that burning mount, and tell me, Do you think you can meet God on that ground? Can you pass these barriers? Can you ascend through the " blackness and darkness and tempest?" Can you, a sinner, meet the " great and mighty and terrible God " in that pavilion of fire that covers the mountain, while He utters a " fiery law," demanding absolute obedience on pain of death? Ah! no. Your mouth is closed. God is walled around with fire, and you are shut out from His presence. There is no approach on that ground. It could only be death. Who can speak in the presence of such a scene? Not man, surely. His mouth is closed—every mouth. Man is shut up to condemnation and death, and has nothing to answer, his lips are sealed because he is guilty.
But, oh! sinner, before closing this little word, let me tell you this: if God as a Lawgiver has closed your mouth, He has opened His mouth now in grace from a blood-sprinkled throne in heaven, and utters these wondrous words: "Be it known unto you.... that through this Man [Christ Jesus] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." " The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." And how different the two! When God gave the law, He kept Himself in the distance, and gave it by angels in the hand of a mediator (Moses); but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. It was the Son declaring the Father—the One who dwells in the bosom of the Father, laying bare the Father's heart, and telling out all its fullness. God has come near in Christ. He has come to man in all his need, has met that need, and has taken up man in Christ, opened heaven for Him, and received Him in. In Christ man has now a place in the Father's bosom, dwelling in love; for God is love. Wondrous thought! Oh, sinner, let this take hold of your heart. Would you dwell in love? Believe in the Son of God, and that becomes your dwelling place, too. Would you have a place in the Father's heart? His heart is going out after you. It is not Sinai's thunders; it is grace proclaimed from the throne of God—× forgiveness and salvation through the blood of Jesus. Look up at that throne of grace. See 1 the blood is there! the blood that has glorified God, and that " cleanseth from all sin." That blood has met your need as guilty, and through faith in it you are washed, and made whiter than snow.