“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
The word “gospel” literally means good news! The reason it’s good news is that there is bad news. Why would anyone ever believe they need to hear the gospel or believe the gospel unless they understood their need for the gospel? That’s where this passage comes in. Romans 3:23 is a foundational reminder that we are all sinners. No one is righteous (Romans 3:10-12), no one is good, and no one keeps the Ten Commandments perfectly. God is holy, and every single human being who has ever lived does not perfectly live up to God’s standard. Whether you’ve sinned once, or are serving a life sentence in prison for murder, whoever fails to keep the whole law in one point is accountable for all of it according to God’s standard (James 2:10).
Sin is a reality that needs to be presented if we are going to understand the gospel. Everybody is a sinner. Being a sinner separates us from having a relationship with a holy God. We need a solution.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The second stop on the Romans Road emphasizes the unconditional love of God towards the sinner whom He is willing to save. We were unlovable, but He loved us. We were hopeless, but He gives hope. We couldn’t save ourselves, but Christ could. In our spiritually dead and sinful condition (Ephesians 2:1), God chose to show mercy, love, and kindness to us.
This passage brings Christ into the forefront and provides an opportunity to integrate Him into the good news. If it wasn’t for God sending His Son to deal with sin, we couldn’t be saved from the penalty of sin. That is where the new stop on our journey comes in.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
After stops 1 and 2, a person might readily accept that everyone is a sinner, that God loves us, and that Jesus died for us. But stop number 3 takes us deeper into the bad news, before highlighting more of the good news.
Upon hearing that “the wages of sin is death,” someone might ask, what does that mean? This stop provides you with the opportunity to highlight God’s wrath towards sin, His dealings with the unrighteous, and the reality of a literal heaven and a literal hell (Romans 1:18-32; Matthew 13:42; Revelation 21:8). The earned payment for sin — all sin — is death. Much like a human court system has a standard of law that if not kept leads to punishment, God has a law and there is punishment for not keeping it. More than that, as human beings who readily admit that we are sinners, we must also admit that we cannot keep God’s law faithfully. Therefore, we all are condemned in God’s court and deserve the wages for our sin: death.
But Romans 6:23 also includes good news! In contrast to our inability to keep the law of God and our wages earned by sin, God gives the gracious gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. This aspect of the gospel provides you with the opportunity to know and share what Jesus did on the cross. He died in the sinner’s place. He paid the penalty for sin so the sinner wouldn’t have to. He gave His life so you could live. By “eternal life,” the Bible means that you don’t need to die and end up in hell forever. You don’t have to experience the judgment of God upon sin for all eternity. You can live in heaven with Him for all eternity after this life ends. The Bible teaches that everyone will die (everyone knows this is true) and that after death in this life comes a moment of judgment (Hebrews 9:27). That moment of judgment does not need to end badly.
God has given us a gift. His name is Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ…”
This is really good news! If you are “in Christ,” that means you’ve put your faith in Him, believing that He died for you and rose again from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4). Anyone in Christ is not going to be condemned for their sin and will not go to hell. If that’s you, then you don’t need to walk around feeling guilty or shameful over your sin once you’ve believed in Christ because your sin is washed away (1 John 1:7).
“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…”
The final stop is where the rubber meets the road. Do you believe that Jesus is Lord? Do you believe He was the Son of God who died for your sin and rose from the dead? Are you willing to confess your sin, accepting the bad news that you are spiritually bankrupt without God’s help? Are you willing to accept the good news that God has made a way for you to have a relationship with Him and be saved from the penalty of sin, which is His wrath?
Through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s power can change you. You don’t have to live a life of brokenness and bondage, you don’t have to be hopeless. Jesus can set you free. Jesus can give you hope.
The question is often asked, how do I know if I’m saved? The simple answer is that if you have truly believed in Jesus Christ and put your faith in Him, God will transform you. The old ways of sin that you used to relish are going to fade, and the new life you live in Christ will dominate your passions (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In a world looking for solutions to the brokenness of human sin, the gospel declares that Jesus is the answer.