All Have Sinned
9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:
” There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”(Psalm 14:3, 53:3, Ecc. 7:20)
13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;(Psalm 5:9)
“The poison of asps is under their lips”; (Psalm 140:3)
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” (Psalm 10:7)
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.” (Isaiah 59:7-8)
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”(Psalm 36:1)
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Who then is guilty? Everyone. Not just the Jews that have been previously mentioned, but also the “Greeks”. Remember that “Greeks” in this context stand in place for the term “Gentiles” and not just the people who are native to Greece. Gentiles means everyone who is not a Jew. Therefore, if both the Jews and Gentiles were condemned, that would be everyone. Paul then takes us on a walk through the old testament where God reveals the nature of the heart of mankind. No one is, on their own righteous before God – no one is capable of meeting God’s high standards. No one understands God, nor does anyone want to understand God because it is, in the estimation of the natural man (that being someone whom God has not saved) more profitable for him to focus on his own life, feelings, or will. No one will do what God considers “good” unless it’s for his own benefit. Be it for his pride, for his financial portfolio, to look good in front of others, to have his name declared as righteous and good before his friends or in newspapers, to earn favor from their gods, whatever the reason that unsaved people try to do “good”, it all counts for nothing before God. “Their throat is an open tomb” relates to their speech. The greek word for “throat” relates to the voicebox – the text is saying here that the natural man is only capable of speaking things that lead to death. The stench of man’s communication reeks of his own natural tendencies – sex, money, power, threatenings, etc. Listen to anyone boast of their past weekend, or of what matters most to them in their lives. “I beat this game faster than anyone I know…”, “I’m totally going to get laid this weekend…”, “I was so drunk that I don’t remember anything past Friday at 8pm…”. Ask anyone what they do for a living and you’ll hear the same pridefulness come through. People lie so often in this culture that for many it’s easier than telling the truth. When people aren’t lying about their conquests or their worthiness before others, they are deceitful to others when they want to get things they want. The key to this whole portion of scripture is listed in the last of Paul’s quotes – “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Had they a reverential fear of God they wouldn’t act in this way at all, but instead they believe that they are more influential than God in their lives and so their actions show it. What they don’t act on, they’ve thought of intently whenever they can. Lustful thoughts, daydreams of hurting those around them who have caused them pain, not fleeting thoughts, but those that are dwelled upon. Those are the actions of the mind that God will judge. The law of God, the ten commandments, exist so that all people will be brought to condemnation before God. The law is incapable of saving anyone because it exists to bring a knowledge of sin. Jesus, however, came to fulfill the law and that through Him, all might be saved.