Not Even One
So God is righteous though every man be a liar, we read yesterday. And everywhere in Scripture we read of God as glorious, too righteous even to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13). Today, we read the Bible’s estimation of ourselves, and it is not complimentary. It is a commonplace that men think themselves good and strive to be honest and upstanding citizens. We admire those who are kind and generous. We raise our children teaching them to share, to mind their elders, to study hard in school—in short, to be good boys and girls. All of this is as it should be. But please understand that this is all relative to how human beings treat one another. I may call someone a good man and mean it with all my heart; but, in saying such, I am only speaking of him as I have experienced him among others. I know not the man’s heart, his secret sins, or his inward contradictions. As Paul described in chapter two, he could very well be just another kind pagan who helps old ladies across the street.
But the Bible describes man in relation to the Almighty and Holy God who is all-knowing and all-wise: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). And what the Lord sees is what Paul describes weaving various psalms and other Old Testament passages together making it clear that we are not good people who happen to sin every now and then but evil and wicked people in rebellion against the Lord our God. In and of ourselves, there is nothing good at all, and as the Lord said about man long ago, “Every intention of the thoughts of his heart [is] only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). I have heard Christians say something to the effect that God is so holy and His standard of righteousness so high that if a man were to commit only one sin, he could not stand before Him. Though true, this completely misrepresents the actual situation and does God the injustice of making Him look like an ogre. The actual situation is that we have treacherously rebelled against a loving God and do so every day of our lives: No one is righteous, no one seeks God, not even one.
And this is where the law leaves us; be it the Mosaic for the Jew or conscience for the Gentile, the law serves the purpose of condemning us before God such that no one even has a word to say in his defense. The law told us plainly what sin was, and we did it anyway. Thus, no one, NOT ONE, will be justified, considered right, or acquitted, before God on judgment day. But do not despair: Our condemnation by the law paves the way for God to save us by grace through His dear Son. Did you hear that? God saves us.