Silence is a spiritual condition, and it’s a good place to be. Everything in Romans 1.18-3.20 is designed to lead us into a cosmic courtroom, an epic trial: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouthmay be stopped (or silent), and the whole world accountable to God.” (Rom 3.19).
In a Greco-Roman trial, the accused (the defendant) would place his hand over his mouth when he had no more to say in his defense. If the accused was judged guilty and continued speaking, the judge would order him to shut his mouth and watchful guards made sure it happened. Biblical silence is the spiritual condition of someone who knows deep down in his bones that he cannot save himself. No more will greener pastures romance redeem me nor money buy me happiness. No more must I be a good person obsessed with rules or righteousness, and driven by what people think of me. The accused is now silent. Silence is a good place to be, and the Apostle Paul gives two spiritual resources to lead us there in Romans 3.1-20.
The first spiritual resource is found in two phrases that say the same thing in verses 9 and 10: “All…are under sin…None is righteous, no, not one.” These two phrases are describing the spiritual position of being lost before God – of being sinful and guilty. This means that the person stockpiling immorality, addiction, and debauchery and the person building a legacy of discipline, moral virtue, and personal responsibility are alike under sin, unrighteous and lost. No one can save himself. Silence.
The second spiritual resource is found in the collage of Old Testament texts found in verses 10-18 describing how sin affects sinners. There are seven disastrous effects and we will look at two. “No one understands“ (v.11). Sin impacts our minds. Our minds were made to understand God, ourselves, others, the world around us, but now our minds distort and miss the truth. They not only miss most of reality but also misinterpret most of it. Our minds cannot save us.
“No one seeks for God.” (v.11)Sin impacts our motives. No one really seeks God. Do we seek answers to prayer? Yes. Do we seek God’s blessings? Yes. Do we seek spiritual power, peace, and deliverance from pain? Yes. But do we seek our joy, life, salvation in God? Do we seek God with a desire to know the True God? Do we seek God with a desire to trust, love, enjoy, and obey Him for who He is and what He’s done? No. No one seeks for God. Our motives cannot save.
Sin impacts our will (verse 12), our tongues, speech, and communication (verses 13-14), our relationships (verses 15-17), and our relationship with God (verse 10 and verse 18). Sin has wrecked us, and it’s a comprehensive wreckage, leaving nothing untouched. No one can save himself. Silence.
Silence is the bridge between the sin section (Romans 1.18-3.20) and the salvation section (starting at 3.21 to the end of the book). Silence leads us to the salvation of Jesus Christ, who went under sin, became unrighteous, and was wrecked on the cross for all who are silent.