Deep Concern for Israel
1I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ …
1I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to …
What is the purpose of the conscience? How does it function? Can it be wrong? In this sermon on Romans 9:1–3 titled “Paul’s Great Sorrow,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones dissects the phrases that Paul uses to show how his conscience testifies to the truth of Scripture. This, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, must first be considered, both the statement and the terms in which he says them. Then the reader can go on to consider the lessons and conclusions. Paul is attesting that his own conscience is a witness that what he is saying is true. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that a person’s conscience is independent of the person. The extent to which the conscience is saturated with Scripture determines the extent to which one can depend on their conscience. Additionally, Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns never to speak against it or condemn it on the basis of personal opinion. The conscience is enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the Christian and it is used by the Holy Spirit to convict. Paul then says how grieved he is over the Jews and their condition, wishing he himself could take their place. Dr. Lloyd-Jones begins to ask why Paul is making these types of statements and states that Paul is doing this because he is eager to clear the charges that were against him.
- The apostle Paul makes an astonishing and remarkable statement about his feelings towards his fellow Jews who have rejected Christ.
- He says "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Romans 9:1-3).
- This is one of the strongest statements found in Scripture. Paul expresses intense anguish over the state of the Jews.
- Paul does not actually wish to be cut off from Christ, but he expresses the depth of his concern for his people. The thought entered his mind but he immediately realized the impossibility.
- The imperfect tense in Greek suggests Paul was on the point of wishing but did not actually wish it. It expresses the presence of a condition known to be impossible.
- Paul wants to show the peculiar tragedy of the Jews rejecting their Messiah. As a Jew himself, he understands this tragedy in a unique way.
- Paul wants to refute charges brought against him that he has become indifferent or hostile to the Jews. He shows his deep concern for them.
- Paul hopes that by explaining the situation, some Jews may come to understand the truth and believe the gospel.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.