Blood of Jesus Christ 3
By Dr. Derek Thomas
Every false religious is a variation of some sort or another on self-justification. No matter what it is that we are saved by: human effort or human wisdom or human insight or human motivation or human potential. Find the inner strength that lies within you, as a famous TV evangelist says over and over again. It is but a variation on self-justification that the resource that the solution, to the problem and predicament of man lies within us and Paul has taken all of that away. He has removed every last vestige of hope in the human condition.
There is none righteous, not one. Not the greatest of them, not the most spectacular of them, not the most memorable of them, not the great leaders of church history or world history--there is none righteous. All is taken away. All hope of justifying ourselves, of making ourselves right in the presence of God. He's brought the entire human race under the banner of guilt. That's the problem. Not just guilt feelings, not that I feel guilty, but legal guilt. We are guilty before the bar of almighty God, the judge of all, before the standard of His righteousness, before the standard and impeccability of His holiness, His character. We're all guilty.
It is the problem with Christianity, so some say. The famous lecture given by the Swedish theologian, Christa Standall in 1961, given interestingly enough to the American Psychological Society. The lecture was called "The Introspective Conscience of the West". It's the problem with the west, with western civilization. From Augustine right through the period of the Reformation and the Medieval Period before that, and right through to the 20th Century. It's the problem of the west; the problem of guilt. Thus it warmed the cockles of those psychologists’ hearts, of course. It was after all what Freud had said.
The problem is guilt, and what we need is to get rid of guilt, and to suggest that there is no such thing as guilt. But Paul, of course, will have none of it. There is none righteous. We are all of us--every man, every woman, every boy, every girl--that's born into the world is guilty before the bar of Almighty God who surveyed the Jews and surveyed the Gentiles, those who have the law and those who don't have the law, but have the Lord revealed in creation. All have sinned, all have fallen short, and then he comes in verse 21, "But now!"
It's a staggering moment, a turning point in the whole argument of Paul in Romans. But you have to try and catch something of what Paul is suggesting here, that there is a great movement in the course of world history, and world history changes and alters with the coming of Jesus and with the life of Jesus Christ and with the death of Jesus Christ and with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God. Everything is different now.