Romans 3:10-18 (New Living Translation – NLT)
10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous — not even one. 11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. 12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” 13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” 14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “They rush to commit murder. 16Destruction and misery always follow them. 17They don’t know where to find peace.” 18“They have no fear of God at all.”
In our verses today, Paul is quoting from several Old Testament scriptures including the Psalms, Ecclesiastes and the prophet Isaiah.
While I think it’s safe to say that when reading these verses, most people would say that they are not like that, we have to put all of this into the context of everything Paul has been teaching up until this point.
Firstly, we have to recognise that only God is righteous. Every person is by nature sinful and does not meet God’s standard. We don’t behave as God expects and we certainly don’t think as He thinks. His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are so much higher than ours.
In light of that, we have to understand that everything we can ever think or do is already compromised by sin. Our ethics and morals are nowhere near the standard that God has set. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. This is incredibly difficult for us to grasp. Let me illustrate this by something incredibly superficial: I have been married to Cath for over 30 years and if there’s one thing I know for certain is that she is incredibly good at cleaning! On occasion, I have tried to clean the house but when Cath arrives home, she takes a look around and then proceeds to do a proper job. I didn’t see anything wrong with it but Cath’s standards are very different to mine!
Verse 12 says that ‘all have become useless’. In the original language, this actually means that all have become ‘offensive’. Whether we like it or not, because of sin, everything we say or do is offensive to a Holy God. That’s why Jesus came. He stands in the gap for us. What an amazing Saviour!
When we truly understand our sinful nature, we can appreciate His grace all the more. God loved us so much that He gave Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin. His love is incredible and His grace is amazing.