It is an excellent strategy. It is used all the time by magicians and illusionists it is called diversion or misdirection. I want you looking over there while I do something over here. It is also used effectively by those who really don’t want to answer questions or deal with the truth. “You asked me about this but I’d rather talk about that.” We all know who likes to use such tactics! It’s politics 101. Just once I’d like to hear a politician say, “Look, this is a press conference the last thing I want do is answer a bunch of questions.” In stead you hear something like, “That is an excellent questions. That’s why I have my people looking into…” then they go off on something that’s not even remotely related to the question asked. But as good as politicians are with “spin” I’ll tell you are the real masters of spin. They are the folks who love to talk about “religion” but who don’t want to deal with their sin or come to grips with the gospel.
Do you remember the story recorded in John chapter 4? The story of Jesus and his encounter with the woman at the well? It’s a classic example. Jesus made a point to pass through Samaria. It was noon, the hottest part of the day, and he sat down at Jacob’s well and waited while the disciples went into the village for food.
A woman approached who was, without a doubt, a woman of questionable character. She came to draw water and Jesus struck up a conversation with her. Jesus asked her for a drink. She was surprised that Jesus, as a Jew, would ask her for water. Jesus said, “If you knew who is was you would be asking me for water. And I would give you living water.” She was “hooked.” “You don’t have a bucket and this well is very deep. How would you get this water? Are you claiming to be greater than our father Jacob?” Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. Whoever drinks of the water I give – will never be thirsty again. In fact that which I give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” “Sir give me this water,” she exclaimed.
Jesus said, “Go, call your husband and tell him to come here.” The woman said, “I don’t have a husband.” “You’re right,” said Jesus. “You’ve had 5 husbands but the man you’re currently living with is not your husband.” That’s when it happened. She was pleased to have the conversation up to this point. She was fascinated and intrigued. She wanted to know more. But know she says, “I perceive you are a prophet. I’ve always wondered…where’s the best place to go to church?” Divert! Move away. Let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about anything else.
If you’ve tried to talk to others about the gospel. If you’ve ever tried to move the conversation toward confronting an individual’s sin and their need of Christ then you’ve experienced “diversion tactics.” You’ve been hit with the Crusades and all the evil that’s been done throughout history in the name of the church; you’ve been hit with the poor, innocent heathen in the African bush and the lowly villager in China who have never heard the gospel or the name of Jesus. Is that brought up because they’ve always had this burden and wanted to know the answer or is it because they are not comfortable dealing with the gospel up close? I suspect it’s the latter. I imagine they don’t really want to deal with their sin and thus their condition before God it’s much safer to talk about the heathen in Africa or what happened 1200 years ago.
That’s what Paul is dealing with in our text this morning found in Romans chapter 3.
Text: Romans 3:1-8
The key to this section is found in 3:8 – “Their condemnation is just.” Their condemnation is right, is fitting, it is appropriate.
That is highlighted in our text by revealing the depth of our sin. The depth of man’s depravity is seen in that…
Thesis: Man’s wicked heart will go to any extreme to avoid dealing with God’s sovereign, wise and just judgment.
- Man’s depravity is seen in that he tries to use his own unfaithfulness as grounds for charging God with unrighteousness. (3:1-4)
- Man’s depravity is revealed in that he seeks to justify his own wickedness as a means of glorifying God. (3:5-8)
At first glance this text seems out of place and an unnecessary side track. Paul why go down this road? Why muddy the waters with a somewhat confusing rant? But it is not a rant at all. It’s not even out of place. It’s purpose is to underscore the wickedness of man’s stubborn, sinful, heart.
It is given to declare yet again man’s destiny is hopeless apart from the mercy and grace of God in Christ.