Incurable Spiritual Sepsis – (Romans 1:18—3:30)

Am I the only one, or does it seem like there is a new killer infection that we never really heard much about until recent years … this thing called “sepsis.”  Several of our church family have had to do battle with this over the past couple years, and it is top-drawer nasty!

According to the Sepsis Alliance website (, this malady kills about 258,000 Americans each year. The site contains this description …

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. In other words, it’s your body’s over active and toxic response to an infection.

Your immune system usually works to fight any germs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites) to prevent infection. If an infection does occur, your immune system will try to fight it, although you may need help with medication such as antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics. However, for reasons researchers don’t understand, sometimes the immune system stops fighting the “invaders,” and begins to turn on itself. This is the start of sepsis.

Septic shock is the most severe level and is diagnosed when your blood pressure drops to dangerous levels … on average, approximately 30% of patients diagnosed with severe sepsis do not survive. Up to 50% of survivors suffer from post-sepsis syndrome.

Bad stuff for sure! But there is a sort of “spiritual sepsis” that is even worse. It is completely uncurable by human methods. This infection that is genetically inherited from relationship to Adam is endemic to all people. There is no answer in all of humanity for it. It kills everyone.

This is essentially the argument of Paul over the first three chapters of the book of Romans. It begins in 1:18ff where he writes:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

The natural man has no excuse. Creation points to God, yet man rejects Him. Their sin has them in line for God’s wrathful and righteous judgment.

Turning to the second chapter, Paul turns the argument toward two categories of people who were indeed living at a higher ethical standard: moralistic Gentiles and the Jewish people. Whereas their sense of wellbeing and good standing with God was driven by not being as bad as the majority of humanity, neither group could honestly present themselves as free from sin and its consequences – spiritual sepsis.

Paul wraps up his analysis by saying in 3:9-11, “What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God…’”

And then the clincher in 3:20 … “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”

The problem is a lack of righteousness, a lack of perfection. It is impossible, all is lost. The spiritual sepsis always leads to spiritual septic shock and death. Though the Jews thought the benefits of obeying the law (which none did perfectly) would be a cure, it was not. This was not the actual purpose of the law. The law (God’s perfect standard) was given for the purpose of making sinful mankind aware of his imperfection and lack of righteousness. Therefore, conscious of the lost condition, the sinner would throw himself fully upon God’s grace and trust in the substitutionary atonement of sacrifices – ultimately trusting the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ.

So, in terms of our series, we could say that the purpose of God’s law is to help us see the bad news – to rightly grasp our identity in Adam and in sin, aligning us for judgment. We have to begin at this place. We have to understand the hopeless gravity of the situation, rightly seeing that there is nothing we can do. Only God can save us. And again, that good news is coming soon. But first, we’ll talk about admitting out lost condition … talk to you again tomorrow.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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