There is None Righteous (Romans 3:10-18)
Verses 10-18 are Paul’s biblical proof for why both Jew and Gentile have equal standing in the eyes of God. Paul quotes from various places in the Old Testament to make his case. He uses the Psalms because of their ability to capture the truth at the heart level. David was a man who spoke, sang, and wrote from his varied experiences. It was because of this that as you read the Psalms a kinds of emotions are written about there. From joy to anger; love to revenge; faith to impatience; jubilation to repentance. We will look at this next, but without the law, there is no knowledge of sin (v. 20). But before Paul gets to that he wants to make it plainly clear that that there is already sufficient cause for God to hold us guilty of sin.
I have provided the quotations and their references below. Paul is paraphrasing from these passages, but the essence of this is the same.
|Paul’s Quotation||Old Testament Reference|
|Romans 3: 10-12
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
|Psalm 14:1-3 (cf. Psalm 51:1-3)
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”
For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps.
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;”
for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
7 Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. 8 The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.
The apostle does not hold back on his description of the state of man. While this may appear tame and mild to some, pull is not pulling any punches. It is through these verses that Paul puts forth a detailed, and nearly comprehensive, wrecking ball to any argument for justification, salvation or righteousness apart from God and His Son Jesus. To seek any of these three attributes independently of God’s presence and intervention is to step away from what God has revealed in Scripture. What Paul is saying in this section is not something that can be, or should be taken lightly. The indictment upon humanity is equal to the remedy that God has provided in the Cross of Christ. But, if man’s understanding of sin does not agree with the price paid for that sin there will remain an inconsistency in any theology/doctrine that we try to claim is genuinely Biblical.
It is worth noting that sin must be understood from the perspective of the offended rather than that of the offender. The value of the one wronged determines the just compensation. As we look at the price that God paid for our redemption, i.e., the Blood of Jesus, we can see that sin is far worse than we could ever comprehend.