Paul didn’t beat around the bush. When he sat down to write the book of Romans, a letter about the gospel, he decided to take the gloves off, to call a spade a spade, and to say it straight. He wasted no time getting to the core of our problem: SIN. Of course, he didn’t stop there, because the gospel provides incredible hope. But in order to get to the good part, he knew it was necessary that everybody understand, accept, and identify with the bad part: we are sinners, totally and completely separated from inner goodness. Whether we’re out-and-out vile and shameless or we’re pious and self-righteous, we’re still sinners—still as bad off as we can be before a righteous, holy God. But Paul wasn’t through! Next he addressed the super-religious Jew, who believes that his or her traditions, works, and privileged position before God put him or her on a higher plane than all others on the planet. “Not so,” says Paul—even the super-religious are sinners!
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