Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 67
BUT GOD! (Where Sin Abounded) – Part 1
Rom. 5:20, Rom. 6:22, I Cor. 1:23, I Cor. 1:27
It’s a beautiful January day in Oklahoma. It’s good to see everybody in. We’re going to go right into the Book and continue on where we’ve been for the last several programs on the But God, But Who, or But When. Regardless, you know it’s always the “flip side.” I’ve expressed so often, that if you want to be a serious Bible student, you must determine: to whom is it written, what went before, and what went after. This is the whole premise of this line of teaching. We’re going to show what comes up on the “flip side,” and then we’ll see what a difference that makes.
All right, for the next “But God,” we’re going to go to Romans chapter 5 and verse 20. We’ll go to the flip side and then go back and see what goes before. Again, remember that Romans is a doctrinal book. Ninety-nine percent of our Grace Age doctrine has its roots in the Book of Romans, and that’s what so many people fail to realize. Acts is not a doctrinal book. Acts is a record of the transition from Judaism to grace. But Romans is strictly a doctrinal book. We see things in Romans that you almost will not find anywhere else in Scripture, and here is one good example.
“…But where sin abounded,” Now, I hope you can stretch that word abound to what it really means. It just is overwhelming. It’s beyond borders, and that’s where sin had become, even at the time that Paul is writing. You want to remember that the Roman Empire was totally devoid of any spirituality. It was pagan. It was under all of the gods and goddesses of paganism and mythology. Consequently, the moral fabric of the empire was as rotten as you could expect the human race to get. So Paul, I think, is using that background of his present day civilization to show that this grace of God is greater even than the horrendous sins of the Roman Empire.
Let’s go back to Romans chapter 5 verse 12 and see the very beginning of this sin problem. Now I know, from what I gather from my listening audience and from my own experience that we hardly ever hear anybody talk about sin anymore. Oh, it might disrupt a little bit once in a while, but they won’t call it sin. It’s either the parents’ fault, or it’s the school teacher’s fault, or it’s somebody else’s fault. But they refuse to call it sin. But Paul has no compunction. Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, calls sin exactly what it is. It is total rebellion against a Holy, Righteous God. But where did it begin? All right, Romans chapter 5 verse 12, “Wherefore.” You want to remember, in these first four and half chapters, this is what he’s been explaining – the human sin problem. Remember, if you go back to chapter 1, he lays out all the ramifications of the immoral individual. Then he goes into chapter 2 and lays out all of the sin problem of a moral person who thinks he’s pretty good. Then he goes one step further in the last part of chapter 2 and on into chapter 3, and he lays out the dilemma of the religious man, which of course in his day was the Jew, and they were just as devoid of spiritual life as the immoral man. So, sin has been the subject of this letter to the Romans for the first four and a half chapters. All right, now he’s telling us where it all began. All right, verse 12.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world,…” Now, of course, you all know who the one man was. Adam! Now you know, there are those out there that are trying to tell us that there were humans before Adam. Well, if that’s the case, then the Bible falls apart, because everything in the Bible goes back to the creation of Adam and Eve and their fall, which sent the human race under the sin dilemma. All right, this is what the Apostle Paul is showing us. This is where sin and death began – with Adam when he partook of the forbidden tree. So, by one man Adam–
“…sin entered into the world, and death by sin;…” Now, I always have to stop and remind people that sin and death are synonymous. You can’t separate them. Sin and death are as tied together as Siamese Twins, because sin, sooner or later, is going to bring about death. Even in the garden experience, the moment Adam ate of that fruit his spirit died and his physical body began to die, even though it took 930 years before that was consummated. But sin and death, Beloved, are synonymous. You take sin out of the picture and death goes with it. That’s why eternal life, you see, is totally separated from sin and death.
“Wherefore, as by man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so (Here’s the result.) death passed upon (How many?) all men, (None excepted, but the Lord Jesus Himself, of course. But every human being that has ever come into the world has come in with a sin nature and death riding with it. There’s no way that you can avoid it.) for that all have sinned:”
Now you remember years back I put on the board, “We’re not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re born sinners.” It’s there in every human being. You know, I always like to repeat and repeat and repeat, because that’s what my letters tell me to do. I’ve used the example so often of that innocent, little infant that’s born into the home. He is just as sweet and innocent as anything can be. But how long is it until that little infant shows a temper? Not long. We call them temper tantrums. Then you go on a little further and it isn’t long until that little child knows how to lie. No mother or father is going to teach that kid how to lie, it comes naturally. They can lie like a rug! Then, it isn’t long until the language of the neighborhood slips in. Have you ever noticed kids never use bad words in the wrong place? Ever noticed that? Why? Because their old sin nature knows exactly how and where to use them. It goes right on up as we grow up in physical and human life experience; that old sin nature just becomes more and more evident all the time.
I can remember when I was a kid, small enough to still sleep on my Mom and Dad’s laps as they sat together. I didn’t mind staying awake during the song service, but as soon as that preacher got behind the pulpit, you know what this little kid did? I stretched out on Mom and Dad’s laps and went to sleep. Why? I didn’t want to hear what he had to say. I know that was the case. And I couldn’t have been even over three years old. That’s human nature. They rebel at anything that pertains to the truth, and the older people get, the stronger that rebellion gets. But it all began back here with one man – Adam. All right, now let’s move on, verse 13. Now, this is kind of a tough verse to handle, but we’ll face it for a moment.
“(For until the law…” Now stop and think. This is what I’m so thrilled about when people are writing, and it’s proving to me that I’m getting through to them. They’re stopping to analyze the Scriptures, which they never did before. All right, how long was it from Adam until Moses was given the Law? Come on you mathematicians, figure up real fast. How long from 4000 BC to 1500 BC? Twenty five hundred years – there was no Law. Now, think about that.
For twenty five hundred years there was no Mosaic Law. So, what held the human race together as much as it did? Now, it was awful. That’s why God destroyed them with the flood. But, what held them together at least for the first 1400-1500 years. Conscience. Now, let me show you that from Scripture. I’ve got to do everything with Scripture. Go back just a couple of pages in Romans to chapter 2. These are concepts of Scripture that the average Christian never even hears about or looks at. But you see, from Adam until Moses was given the Ten Commandments, there was no written Law. There was no formal system of worship. Those people before the flood didn’t have churches or synagogues or temples. No formal system of worship whatsoever. So, the only thing they had left that held it together a little bit was – here it is in Romans chapter 2 verse 14.
“For when the Gentiles, (or the non-Jewish world) who have not the law, do by nature (or naturally) the things contained in the law, these, (non-Jewish people) having not the law, are a law unto themselves:” Well, now where does that come from? Next verse, verse 15.
“Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their (What’s the next word?) conscience….” Now, you’ve all heard the word since you were little, “let your conscience be your guide.” Well, there’s truth to it. But the problem is, the conscience can be so easily manipulated or seared, so it’s not an all encompassing solution. But nevertheless, this is what mankind started out with. He had the law of God written in his heart by way of conscience, even though it wasn’t on a written page.
“…their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts (prompted by conscience) the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another;)” Now, that’s all they had. Consequently, what happened to the human race between Creation and the flood? Well, you all know the picture of humanity before the flood. It was wicked. It was violent. It had no thought of God in them from morning to night. Why? Conscience utterly failed, and so everybody did what they were comfortable in doing.
All right, then came the Law. Now, when Israel received the Law, God laid out explicitly the moral code for human behavior. Now see, here’s where I get a little bit rankled when they get all upset about showing the Ten Commandments as though it is a religious instrument. No, it’s not a religion, per se. It’s God’s moral law for the whole human race. I don’t care whether they’re Muslim or Hindu or whatever. If they basically keep God’s moral law, they’ll have a far better community than they will without it, because God’s law is perfect. No man can keep it, but at least there is enough substance there that it keeps society on track. Because as soon as you have a society, I don’t care what their form of religion is on the door, when you have a society that has no compunction about sexual immorality, there is a breakdown of the home. When you have a society that has no concern about human rights, you lose property rights.
Now, you say, where do you get that? Property isn’t even in the Ten Commandments. Well, where do you pick it up? “Thou shalt not covet.” Now, when you go on into Leviticus, what are the things that people were not to covet? Well, they were not to covet another man’s spouse, but it doesn’t stop there. Neither his maid servant, nor his man servant, nor his donkey, nor this…nor that. So, what does it tell you? That based on God’s Law, there is supposed to be the right to personal property. One of the fundamentals of our Western civilization is property rights. As soon as that’s taken away, our system of government will go down the tube. I don’t care if you only own $100 worth of property, or whether you own millions, the concept is the same. It’s yours. And the Bible stands behind that.
Okay, now come back to Romans chapter 3. The Law was not given or written until Moses, but in that 2500 year period of time God had given man the knowledge, through conscience, of what was right and wrong. But like I said, you can sear conscience. You can manipulate it, so it really doesn’t control. All right, but now God has brought in the written Law. Romans chapter 3 verse 19, verses that we’ve used over and over through the years.
“Now we know (See? No ifs, ands, or buts about it.) that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law:” Now, when I taught Romans, I specified that the Law, in general terms, covered three aspects of Jewish life – the ceremonial or the Temple Worship, or what we would call the ecclesiastical law. What sacrifice to bring and under what circumstances. Then they had the civil law – how to deal with your neighbor, family relationships, and so forth. Then they had the moral law, which was the Ten Commandments. All right, the word law here, as I understand this text, is the moral law, the Ten Commandments.
“Now we know that what things soever the law (Ten Commandments) saith, it saith to them who are under the law:” Now, if you know anything about Biblical history, there was only one people on earth that were under the Law and who was it? Israel. That’s all. The rest of the Gentile world had no comprehension of keeping the “Law,” per se. All right, so it was given to Israel, right back there at Mount Sinai and Moses, and then pretty soon they put together the priesthood, Aaron and so forth. The law became functional, but only for the Nation of Israel.
Now again, I’m just reminding you of things that sometimes you never even think of. Did God ever tell Israel – go out and bring the Gentiles in so they can be under this Law? No, they were never told to go out and share this with the non-Jewish world, quite the opposite. They were to keep it meticulously for themselves. They had no commandment to go out and bring the Gentiles under their Law. Okay, now let’s come back to the verse again.
“Now we know that what things so ever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law (The Nation of Israel, but it doesn’t stop there.) that every mouth… (Now, that takes in the whole human race.) That every mouth may be stopped,” Or today, if you want to be rude to somebody, you tell them to what? Shut up. I get a kick out of these coaches when they’re pacing the sideline. I don’t know which ballgame it was. I’ve watched so many lately. But, I remember seeing one of those coaches, and one of the kids was ranting. The coach walked up, and you could read his lips. What was he telling him? Shut up! Shut your mouth.
On the cruise – we had one lady – she’s a character so I knew the way she said it. I said something that, oh, it wasn’t rude, but I said something, you know, to kind of put her down. She just looked at me and she said, “Shut your mouth!” Well, that’s the way we do it. You just simply say you haven’t got an inch of room to stand on. Just shut your mouth.
All right, now this is exactly what this is saying, that God brought the Law to the whole human race to shut their mouths. Well, what do you suppose He’s talking about shutting their mouth about? Well, I don’t need Your Law. I can get along without You, and all the other things that they put with it. God, through the Law, says to just shut your mouth, because the Law is so perfect. It is so Sovereign that not one human being has the right to argue with it.
“…it saith to them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world (Not just Israel, but that all the world, the whole human race) may become guilty before God.” Now, that just flies in the face of most of Christendom’s approach to the Ten Commandments, doesn’t it? They never look at it as a guilt thing. But that’s all it is. That’s all the Law was given for; it was to show Israel, first, their sin. Now, when they saw their sin, then what’d they have to do? Then they had to step into the other part of the Law and follow the directions on what sacrifice to bring and how to get right with God, but it had to start with the Law convicting them of sin.
It was the same way, then, with the whole human race. Conscience hadn’t done its job, so now God laid out the written Law on tables of stone to show it’s permanent. It was never given to bring somebody to Heaven. It was never given to bring anyone to salvation. It was given to convict, and when you convict of sin, like I’ve already said at the beginning of the program, what’s the next step? Death – spiritual and then physical. All right, now let’s go into the next verse, verse 20.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh (nobody) be justified in his sight:…” My, that flies in the face of Christendom, doesn’t it? But by the Law nobody will be justified in His sight. Why? Because the law was not given for salvation.
“…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” I think I may have shared this when I was teaching Romans. I’ll never forget it, quite a few years ago now, more than I like to admit, I was speaking to a men’s breakfast out in one of the eastern states. It was a rather large group sitting around tables, probably forty or fifty men. Amongst that group of men was a young assistant pastor of one of our major denominations. The tables went out this way from me, and I was sitting up here, and he was sitting about over where Iris is. And when I read this verse, without making a single comment, all I did was read it, that young man’s mouth literally dropped. And what’s the first thing I thought? Young man, you didn’t know this was in your Bible, did you? Even as an assistant pastor you could tell that he did not know this was the biblical approach to the Ten Commandments.
“They are ministrations of death,” Paul says in II Corinthians chapter 3, and that shocks people. That’s not the part that they hear. But that’s what the Bible says – it’s a ministration…let me show it to you, otherwise somebody out there in television is going to say, now, where does he get that. II Corinthians 3, now, I certainly didn’t expect or intend to get off on this track. I thought I would be ready for the next But before this half hour was over, but we have to take it as it comes, I guess. II Corinthians chapter 3 and let’s start at verse 5. Now, we’re showing that the Law was a ministration of death, not life.
II Corinthians 3:5-7a
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (Now it’s a semi-colon, so the thought keeps going.) 6. Who (God) also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, (Which is a Pauline word for the Ten Commandments.) but of the Spirit: (The Holy Spirit is what takes the place of the Law in the life of the believer.) for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. 7. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones,…”
Now, I’m reminded, I think I used this maybe a couple of programs back. What was engraved in stone? Only one thing in all of Scripture and what was it? The Ten Commandments. So, we know this is what the Apostle is referring to.
II Corinthians 3:7
“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, (In its own time and in its own economy and in the functioning of the Law, of course it was.) so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:” When? When the cross satisfied everything that the Law demanded. So, it was done away with.
That’s the one thing that Israel has never been able to comprehend, that the work of the cross has completely done away with the work of the Law. Well, we didn’t get very far in this one, but let’s come back to Romans chapter 5 a minute, in the last minute that’s left, continue on. Romans chapter 5 now verse 14, so from Adam until Moses there was no written law, conscience failed miserably, and now we come to 14.
“Nevertheless death reigned…” I’m going to use the term that I think William R. Newell used in his commentary on Romans, which I read years and years ago, that “death reigned like a king.” Whenever you use that word reign here in these early chapters of Romans, you can just emphasize that, “like a king.”
Now, you know how a king reigns. He reigns with absolute power and authority. All right, now we bring that into this verse, “death reigned” over the whole human race. Reigned like a what? Like a king. It was in total control. Death. We all, I think, have a horror for death, because it is that which has just reeked throughout the whole human race – death. And death and sin have always been synonymous.