“There is none righteous, no, not one:” —Romans 3:10
“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” (Romans 3:9). Here, the apostle asks another rhetorical question of the believers at Rome (really two questions); a logical question considering Paul’s line of argument throughout this letter; and it is a legitimate question because it sums up things we have been considering about ourselves throughout the Holy Spirit’s step-by-step revelation of the radical depravity and total corruption of man. So what is that question? “What then? are we better than they?”
I said that these are two questions. In the first, the apostle asks WHAT THEN? In order to comprehend what follows, we must consider everything that came before this question.
After having told us of God’s righteousness (His “justice-ness”) revealed from faith to faith (Romans 1:17); of God’s just wrath revealed from heaven against sin (Romans 1:18); having explained the radical depravity of sinful man (Romans 1:18-27), and listing sins generated from the depraved, reprobate mind of the God-hating sinner (Romans 1:28-32), the apostle directs his discourse to the congregation of believers at Rome in Romans 2 and speaks of God’s righteous judgment to come upon all men, good and bad in that Day (Romans 2:1-16). Then, he directly engages those with a religious background, the Jews (Romans 2:17-3:8). With that, the Holy Spirit speaking through the apostle Paul, has removed every excuse from fallen man, whether Jew or non-Jew, to justify himself before a holy God; and the Spirit presents God’s just judgment upon all men smack in the middle of God’s explanation of the sinfulness of ignorant heathen, as well as the sinfulness of knowledgeable Jews in possession of the prophetic scriptures.
WHAT THEN? In Paul’s logical explanation of the essence of the Law of Moses given to the Jews (Romans 2:26-29), as well as presenting the beautiful benefit of having the Law of Moses (Romans 3:1-8), he can ask rhetorically, as a Jew, “[Because we have been blessed with the privilege of having received the very Word of God through God’s prophets] are we [Jews] better than [Gentiles]? Paul answers, literally, “Not at all.” Then he continues, “…as we have previously proved our case, both Jews and Greeks are all under sin.”
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). The apostle quotes the scriptures (Psalms 14; 53), presenting the Biblical case that every single man, woman, and child born on the planet are sinful, wicked, and totally depraved creatures apart from the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
“There is none righteous, no not one…” There is none that can rightly stand before a just and holy God, not a single person, not even one. This is the Holy Spirit interpreting “there is none that doeth good, no not one” (Psalms 14:3; 53:3) so that the word “righteous” ties in with Romans 2:13, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” This is the exact same word in Greek; so that we see from Romans 3:10 that the only real “doer” of the law is the Son of God alone, and no one else. This is also the very same word in our key verse, Romans 1:17, “…as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
NOTE: We must remember that Romans 1:16-18 is the central theme of this letter, and that we would keep coming back to it
One cannot live a life of faith unless he is just (righteous); yet, if “there is none righteous, no not one” then how may one become righteous? We will cover that in due course, but first let’s look at these verses that illustrate exactly how wickedly sinful man behaves.
“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). No one understands —it doesn’t matter how culturally relevant you try to become, or how “interesting” you try to make the message, if it isn’t the Word of God delivered through the power of the Holy Spirit it will do nothing. No one seeks God —these Willow Creek, Purpose-Driven, Seeker-sensitive methods, which cater to “seekers” actually opposes scripture, and specifically this verse.
“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12). They have all “turned aside” —they have turned toward sin, Satan, and the world. They have become completely “unprofitable.” Psalms 14:3 says it in this way: “they are altogether become filthy” —that is, they have become morally corrupt.
Listen to the sermon preached on this text, Romans 3:9-23, “For All Have Sinned,” on September 6, 2009 at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.
Read the previous article in this series, “O Give Thanks” (Psalms 30:4).