How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10? If we’re honest, then most of us would rate pretty high…at least a six, but probably higher than that. The best we can say is, “I’m not as bad as ______________” or “I’m not as good as _________________.” But, God says that each of us are pretty similar. Is that shocking? Here’s what the Bible teaches:
“…as it is written, ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (Rom. 3:10-12).”
In fact, Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone (Luke 18:19).” What does all this mean? Look at what the verses from Romans teach us for just a moment.
First, they teach us that this is God’s opinion, rather than our own.
We’ve already admitted that we think we’re pretty good—at least we’re not mass murderers. Notice though that the passage begins with “it is written.” That means that what comes next is a quotation from the Old Testament. The author is merely repeating what God has already said long ago. In other words, its God’s opinion, not our own. See for yourself in Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3. Then look at Genesis 6:5. What God thinks of us is really important because the Bible also teaches us that He will be our judge (Matt. 25:31-33; Rom. 2:3-6).
Next, they teach us that our problem is internal.
Just prior to these verses, the author wrote about the things people doto try to be good. Here he goes a bit deeper by saying that what’s on the inside is just as bad. “No one understands; no one seeks for God.” In other words, both our understanding (Eph. 4:17-18; Rom.8:7) and our desires (Eph. 2:1-3) are wrong. This is why “all have turned aside.” Jesus said, “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander (Matt. 15:18-19).” According to these verses, we do bad things because we are bad people. We can be compared to an apple that’s pretty on the outside, but rotten in the core.
Finally, they teach us that this problem is universal.
It is impossible to miss the fact that the author includes everyone—without exception. “None…not one…all…not even one.” All throughout the Bible, this messages resounds with clarity and force: “all have sinned (Rom. 3:23).” This means that we’re all in the same boat: none of us are good enough. At some point we all have wondered why there is so much evil in the world. Throughout history people have been astounded by the harsh reality of sin. Why is there so much pain, destruction, injustice, and suffering in the world? The answer is that the evil that permeates our world is a magnification of what is in our hearts. In other words, there is evil in our world because evil exists in us. We are the problem. And we are so affected by sin that we cannot possibly be the solution.
But wait, there is good news.