9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.
10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.
11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “They rush to commit murder.
16 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”
Romans 3:9-18 (NLT)
In my previous article, I have described the tendency of religious people to pick negative verse from the Bible to neutralize its positive meanings. One of them wrote in to protest and suggested that I should avoid certain passages in the Bible as though I am unable to face the truth. The above is one of the passages he suggested I should avoid. I am doing the opposite now. Not only am I not avoiding it, I am going to write an article on it.
Let us begin with the background. In the above passage, Paul revealed that all of us were born under the power of sin. Whether you are a Jew or a Gentile, you were born as a sinner. This is an unfortunate truth. Being born as sinner means we were under the bondage of sin. Sin was our master and it is able to keep us from being righteous. We have no power to break the power of sin over us by our own strength.
This is why the Scriptures says no one is righteous. None of us have the natural wisdom to seek God on our own. We would have been slaves of sin for life unless there is outside help. Thank God, he sent his Son to die for our sins. Through him, we are forever free from the power of sin. We are righteous because of what Jesus has done for us. Please note that I am referring to Christ Righteousness and not self-righteousness.
What is the difference? When we are Christ Righteous, we rely on Jesus as our righteousness but when we are self-righteousness, we rely on our own works to be righteous. This is the type of righteousness religious churches have been promoting. In their views, you must obey all their doctrines and rituals to be righteous. If you disobey them, like believing God for your prosperity, they will not hesitate to condemn you to hell. Such is the nature of self-righteousness.
Let us move on to the subsequent verses.
19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.
20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
This time the writer was referring to the Law of Moses. This law is not for Christians. According to above verses, the Law was designed to tell the world that they need a Savior. We can never be made right by doing what the law commands. The Law serves as a mirror to show us how sinful we are in the natural. Mirrors can only show the truth. They cannot help us to clean up our lives. Only Jesus at the Cross can do what the Law cannot do – remove all our sins once for all. As Christians, we are right with God because of what Jesus did and not because of our ability to keep the Law. This is the message in Romans 3 and I have no intention of avoiding it.