Romans 3:9-20 (NIV)
9 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. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,
not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 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.
Understanding the Bad to Appreciate the Good
Just in case his audience was not clear, Paul spares no hard truths in giving a description of humanity; there is no one righteous, not even one. Paul quotes Old Testament passages from the Psalms and Isaiah (verses 10-18) to describe what being under sin’s power looks like. No one can do even one thing to satisfy God’s standard of righteousness. Without an accurate knowledge of our sin, we will never come to know the greatness of God’s grace. We will not accurately see the gospel as good news if we don’t see that it is impossible to seek God and understand Him on our own. We often mistakenly see the good that we do as being in the same category as God’s righteousness. It’s like trying to spend monopoly money at the grocery store. Our good works are “fake money” before God’s throne. God requires true righteousness, available only through faith in King Jesus. Paul has used the first three chapters of this letter to build his case against all of humanity. All are accountable to God (no one is autonomous), all are guilty of countless wrongs and all are without any works that merit God’s declaration of righteousness.
According to verse 18, what sin appears to underlie the other sins mentioned in this passage? What warning do you receive from this?
How has our study of Romans thus far helped you to identify, confess and repent of your sin?