Romansby David Cook
Following the Rabbis’ pattern of substantiating their case by a list of Old Testament Scriptures, Paul quotes from Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah to summarise his argument about the state of humanity.
The repetition of “no one”, “not even one”, “no one”, “no one”, “not even one”, stands out in verses 10 to 12. There are no exceptions; we are all worthless. The word used is of “milk gone off”. Having been created for a relationship with God, none of us has this relationship with Him or displays any sign of seeking it.
This lack of relationship with God, or righteousness, is evident in our conduct. What stands out in verses 13 to 17 is the prominence of the “throat”, “tongue”, “lips”, and “mouth”. The mouth is the accurate indicator of the state of the heart (Matthew 12:34). The tongue is shown to be full of cursing, uncleanness, destruction, and deceit, and our activities parallel our words (Romans 3:15–17). To explain the reason for this, Paul quotes from Psalm 36, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (v. 18). And the eyes are the windows to the soul. The concluding summary of 1:18–3:20 is stated in verses 19 to 20. The law, God’s unchangeable standard, silences all excuses. Bible commentator J. B. Phillips renders these verses as, “it is the straight edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are”. The law makes us conscious of our sin. What the law will not do is provide a right standing with God through observance of its requirements.
God, therefore, justly condemns humanity, and there is no way out. We cannot work our way out; any solution must come from God’s side. We do not like to face the reality of ourselves. It is like looking at an unflattering photo—we protest about the bad focus. But here is God’s perfectly focused photograph of ourselves.
It is important for us to be convicted about our hopeless state if we are to appreciate fully the wonder of the good news of salvation.
Think about your growth in knowledge. How well do you know yourself?
What is it that Jesus knew that kept Him from trusting people (John 2:24–25)? Reflect on Jeremiah 17:9.