Paul begins his argument by saying that all of mankind is condemned and that God’s righteousness is needed (1:18–3:20). God’s wrath is being shown to man because they continually reject him (1:18), and the wrath that is coming is definitely deserved (1:19–32). Man even knows within his heart that there is a God, but he still rejects him. The creation is even crying out to mankind, “Look, there is a God” (1:20–21). Unfortunately, man still rejects God. All of mankind is in opposition against God, and man is without an excuse. Since God has revealed himself in the creation, man cannot defend himself (1:20).
Paul continues to argue that all Gentiles are condemned (1:18–32), to which the Jewish audience was probably saying, “Amen.” Then Paul continues to show how the Jews are in just as bad of shape as the Gentiles (2:1–3:8). The Jews even had many advantages compared to the Gentiles, but this just helps show the wickedness of man’s heart. It is interesting how Paul shows that the Gentiles do not have the Law, but they do things of the Law, because the Law is written on their hearts (2:14). The Jews, who had the Law, and the Gentiles, who only knew the Law in their hearts, are both condemned because righteousness does not come from the Law, but from God.
Now that Jews and Gentiles have been shown that they are in rebellion against God, Paul shows that man is helpless unless God intervenes. Paul continues his argument by saying that there is absolutely no one who is righteous or even seeks after God (3:9–18). Man’s only hope without God is to keep the Law (3:19a). Unfortunately, no one can keep the Law fully. The only thing that the Law does is condemn mankind (19b). Without a doubt, the Law can not justify anyone (1:20). This leaves man totally helpless to save himself. He is in desperate need of God’s righteousness. If God does not do any thing to reach out to man, then man will be lost forever.
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Judah and basically took everything that he found to be valuable to him. It seemed to be a practice to not only take silver and gold, but to also take young men and women who might be useful to the Babylonian Empire. In this raid, Nebuchadnezzar took some young men that were good looking, well-educated, and had the ability to enter into the kings service. Among these young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. For the next three years they were to learn the literature and language of the Babylonians, so they would be able to be in the kings palace. Daniel had already made up his mind before hand not to eat the wonderful royal delicacies that the king assigned for them to eat. Daniel decided this because eating some of this food would have broke the Mosaic law dealing with unclean foods and the drinking of strong drink. Daniel talked with his overseer to see if he could eat only vegetables and drink water, but the overseer was fearful of losing his head. Then Daniel had to speak to the overseers boss for permission and he agreed for them to try that diet for ten days. At the end of the ten days, these four young men looked healthier than the others, so they were allowed to stay on their vegetable diet. Throughout this God’s hand was on these young men, because “in every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire.” (Dan 1:20) The text does not say how many young men were taken, but only four are mentioned that remembered their Jewish heritage and did not conform to their new world around them. It seems that they took a bold stand without the worry of “fitting in” or being popular among their peers. They knew that God would be with them and that He would bless them for their obedience to His Word.
If you are a follower of Christ, you must rebel against conformity to this world. Each time we follow the evil ways of this world, we are like silly putty being molded into something other than Christ likeness. I see Daniel here as a bright light shining during a dark time in Judah’s history. He refused to be conformed to the world around him. Be a Daniel, rebel against conformity to this world.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NASB)
In Mark chapter ten, parents were bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing. The disciples were rebuking the parents because they probably thought that the children would have been a distraction for them to do “real ministry”. Jesus was very displeased with the disciples’ response to the children. He said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me: do not hinder them: for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (v. 14 nasb). This was a contrast to a culture that usually looked down on children. Right before Jesus blesses the children, he tells His disciples, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (v.15 nasb). Immediately after this incident a rich man runs up to Jesus asking what he can do to inherit eternal life. The rich man came with the preconceived idea that he was a model citizen and this assured him eternal life. Yes, he had kept most of the Law (outwardly) since his youth. Jesus loved him and said, there is one thing that you are lacking, “Sell all of your possessions and follow me.” The rich man than realizes all of his shortcomings. His true God is his possessions. The rich man leaves without the eternal life that he so searched for. Jesus than speaks about riches. It is very hard for a rich man to enter into heaven. The disciples are amazed and figured there was no chance that any of them could have eternal life. Jesus reminds them of the incident with the children. He calls them “children”. With your own works it is impossible to obtain eternal life. Man is powerless, helpless, and without ability, when it comes to saving himself. God alone has the ability and power to give the person eternal life. An individual must come to God like a child to receive the kingdom of God. He must realize that it is God who gives the free gift of eternal life. Those who try to obtain eternal life by man’s “good works” will never ever ever enter into the kingdom of God. It is Christ alone that saves.