Romans 3:1-20, Psalm 14:1-7, Ecclesiastes 7:20
When I was 18 years old, I was accused of a crime that I didn’t commit. In the course of affairs, I had to take a lie detector test—which I apparently failed. I was devastated. I felt guilty, even though I wasn’t. It was one of the worst experiences of my youth.
The great irony is that I was guilty of many worse things than that for which I was falsely accused and subsequently penalized. I have revisited that experience from time to time when I consider all that the Scriptures have to say about our sinfulness before God. God’s Word is universal in the scope of its testimony about the sinfulness of humanity when it says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).
The Apostle Paul went to great lengths in Romans 1 to set out the catalog of sins that mark the Gentile world, which includes our own. Whether it is the sexual sin and idolatry that is widespread among the nations (1:18-27), or the more general sins that mark the day-in and day-out lives of unbelievers (1:28-32), there is manifold evidence of the absolute pervasiveness of the depravity of all humankind.
Of course, when we hear such an indictment, there will always those who will say, “I’m not like that. I don’t do those sorts of things. I’m not that bad.” The Apostle anticipated such objections from those he knew so well—his own countrymen! When he brings the entire Jewish nation before the divine tribunal in chapter 2, he explains that when they condemn others for sin, they must remember that they, too, are guilty of functionally practicing the same things (2:21-24).
In chapter 3, the Apostle goes on to set the entire world before the all-searching eye of God, thus leveling the the playing field. Paul explains that God gave the Law so that “every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (3:19). Weaving together a number of statements from the Psalms (Psalms 14:1-3; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; 36:1), Paul explains that every part of man has been affected by sin. References to the throats, tongues, lips, mouths, feet, and eyes of men are illustrative of the fact that every part of man has been corrupted. “There is no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:11).
Coming to terms with the extent of our guilt before God is part of coming to see our need for Christ. Apart from the grace of God in Christ, we are spiritually hopeless, helpless, and powerless.
Thanks be to God that He seeks and saves sinners.
Written by Nick Batzig