As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.”
In verses 10-18 Paul quotes no less than seven Old Testament passages. Seven in a row! That tells us something about the way Paul saw Scripture. Paul saw Scripture the way Jesus saw Scripture: “It is absolute authority. It is God’s Word written.”
Paul has seven quotes in a row to emphasize the severity of our sin problem. Our sin problem is bleak! It is as deep as it is broad, as pervasive as it is ubiquitous.
Sin is universal. There is not one single exception. Not Billy Graham. Not Mother Teresa. Not your godly grandmother. Alexander Solzhenitsyn once wrote:
“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Theologians speak of our total depravity. That does not mean that we are as bad as we could be but that we are not as good as we could be. There is no part of us that is untainted by sin. For example, I have never preached a sermon with totally pure motives. My pride and self-centeredness bleed through to some extent every time.
What is the essence of sin? Rebellion against God. The passage ends with this stinging statement: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (3:18). That’s the problem: a rebel heart against God!
Lord, thank you that even though our sin is great, your grace is greater.