None is righteous, no, not one

Romans 3:9-18

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
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.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
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.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” – Romans 3:9-18

Here Paul quotes from nine different Old Testament scriptures. He weaves together a patchwork of texts that emphasise the point that all have sinned, that “None is righteous. His message is that their words and their deeds are wicked. Psalm 14:1-3 is echoed by Psalm 53:1-3, both point out the foolishness of men who turn away from God. Here are other verses he uses:

8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. – Psalm 5:8-9

16 Their quiver is like an open tomb; they are all mighty warriors.
17 They shall eat up your harvest and your food; they shall eat up your sons and your daughters; they shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees; your fortified cities in which you trust they shall beat down with the sword.” – Jeremiah 5:16-17

They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah – Psalm 140:3

His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. – Psalm 10:7

16 for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors. – Proverbs 1:16-19

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. – Isaiah 59:7

1 Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. – Psalm 36:1-3

As Paul pulls this all together it becomes frighteningly clear what God thinks of the state of our natural lives. “None is righteous”. There is nothing for us to be proud of. We need to develop the fear of the Lord. Solomon ended the book of Ecclesiastes with these wise words:

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

It is an interesting style of preaching, to draw together texts from across the scriptures to illustrate a point. This has been used by preachers of the gospel as a method of reinforcing an issue or an idea across the ages. However, we should be aware of the context and placement of the text in its original place in the scriptures. There are some ministers such as David Pawson who very ardently believe that we have moved away from the true meaning of the scriptures by having divided the bible into chapters and verses, which happened in the 16th century. However, Paul uses this technique to emphasise his point that we all are under sin. We are all sinners. We all commit sins. “None is righteous”. This argument needs to be strong as we move along the path Paul is taking us towards the solution: faith in Jesus Christ, to receive forgiveness of sins.

to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. –  Acts 26:18

And what does God want from us?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8


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