Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

No-one is righteous – Romans 3:9-20

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No-one is righteous – Romans 3:9-20 – 02/07/2016

Romans 3:9 (ESV) 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.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills. Let’s start in verse 9 of chapter 3…

V9 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,

Paul has just finished the conclusion that being simply Jewish was really no better off than being simply Gentile. This is all building up to what Paul says in verse 23 that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. When the original sin was committed there was no such thing as “Jew” or “Greek” there was “man” and “God” and to take it back to its most basic level “man” sinned against “God” causing a division. All men are guilty before God. Paul says this as a Jew of pedigree; look at his credentials in the book of Philippians…

Philippians 3:4 (ESV) though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

He was, according to the Law at least “blameless” further on in these verses he goes on to say that when he became in Christ that whatever gain he thought he had as a Jew that it was now a loss. If you are still in your sin you are still in your sin, whether you were Jewish, Gentile, the worst sinner or the highly moral occasional sinner. It is all the same to God without repentance.

The words “under sin” are powerful and speak of a current slavery, a sin that has not been paid for or redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we have all been there at some point and some who read this are still under sin and some are repentant forgiven new creations, but the fact remains we all know what it is like to be under sin. Paul goes on with this thought and let’s look at verses ten through eighteen…

V10 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.”

Paul is right in what he states that “None is righteous” and takes a look at what he sees as the condition of man without God, let’s look at what he sees…

None is righteous, no, not one; – This is the base condition of man without God, an unrighteous mess that cannot save themselves. God is perfect and man is not, it is as simple as that, so much so that our righteousness to God is as “filthy rags” so even if we do righteousness it is like the cloth used to clean up a female issue.
No one understands; no one seeks for God. – On our own and left to our own devices we will not seek after God, this is shown by the many man-made religions out there that do not lead to the true God, there is only one way to heaven and it is described in detail in John 14:6, it is only through Jesus Christ.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Without God the harvest is bad, the fruit is rotten and the meal is worthless. It is a bad that will never become good again by their own efforts.
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” – They even break the ten basic rules that were set out in Exodus 20. They are liars and they have no words of life, they use the tongue to deceive, the mouth is used to lie with an emptiness that is pictorially described as an open grave.
“The venom of asps is under their lips.” – Their lips are used to sting and hurt like an asp, the asp is what we call a modern day Egyptian cobra, and do you want to play with one of those?

According to Wikipedia, this is what happens when you get bit by one of these animals…

“The venom affects the nervous system, stopping the nerve signals from being transmitted to the muscles and at later stages stopping those transmitted to the heart and lungs as well, causing death due to complete respiratory failure. Envenomation causes local pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, necrosis and variable non-specific effects which may include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, collapse or convulsions along with possible moderate to severe flaccid paralysis. Unlike some other African cobras (for example the Red spitting cobra), this species does not spit venom”

Much more graphic picture huh?
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” – Just like the tongue and lips the mouth is a wellspring of evil, their mouths that were created to glorify God are debase in what they say and the attitude behind the terminology that is used. So far all the parts of the body are unified in their rebellion against God.
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, the way of peace they have not known.” – Without God we see what we see in Genesis 4, where the man who was descended from the first sinful parents looks sideways at his brother and Cain slew Abel, after that we see that the culmination of the sins lists a ever decreasing slant on morality. They choose bloodshed over peace, people ask “if there is a good God then why does he allow wars?” and the answer lies here, that God is good and men are evil.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” – If the original thoughts were the walls of the house this statement is the roof. All of the above happens because there is no respect for God, no fear of God and everyone does as his own well desires with no thought of a consequence or thought of where the sin will lead. It makes us look like and reduces us to mere animals; can you imagine a zoo without barriers? That would be what it would be like.

Paul lists that extensive list and finishes his thought in verse nineteen…

V19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Paul has given us a list of what it was like to be without God, please remember he is writing to the Roman church so he would not have to imagine as he probably witnessed it in the city of Rome being the cosmopolitan capital of a very sinful empire which was very much not God centered, we can take solace in this as our world today is not God centered either. Think of it this way, this was God speaking to those who were trying to live his way under the law, can you imagine how he would address those living in lawlessness and rebellion?

V20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

And this is it in a nutshell, the law cannot save anyone! The law is like a flashlight in a dark room illuminating where you have erred in the sight of God it gives you knowledge of what went wrong. This is where Christianity and other religions part as most other religions require compliance to a set of rules and then if you do enough then you may be rewarded. Christians are reliant on God’s grace, we see the fruit of the grace of God by our desire to do the will of the Father but that is not what saves us! Or to be blunt, the Law can condemn us but not save us!

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we are looking at the righteousness of God through faith and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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