There is No One Righteous, Not Even One – Romans 3:10-12

Is anyone “good enough” to be considered righteous before God? There are many who at least seem to think so. That if they successfully follow a strict moral code, the Law of Moses as an example, they will have right standing before their god. And they will experience some version of paradise when this life is complete. But Paul’s argument in the early part of his letter to the Roman church is definitely at odds with that viewpoint.

As it is written

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”

Romans 3:10-12 NIV

Paul spends the opening chapters of Romans arguing that we are all guilty of sin. Then he concludes with a series of quotes from the Old Testament, including the one above. These make it clear that we all fall short of right standing with God, even the best of us. And not only that, but for the most part we don’t even care.

It would be easy to take offense at this passage, especially if you are one who tries hard to be good. To be told that you are worthless and are not doing good is like a slap in the face. I may not be perfect, but that is a far cry from being worthless.

But the problem with this is that I am judging my goodness by human standards of goodness. Yes, I may be better than some, or even most, people; at least according to some specific human standard of goodness. But what if the requirement is 100% adherence to the moral standard you find yourself under? We all fall short of that standard, making us all losers. None of us are righteous, at least in our position before God, the judge.

I am incapable of making myself acceptable to God. No matter how hard I might try, I invariable fall short. And that is true of every other person who has ever lived, apart from one. But God has not left us alone to continue that futile effort. Instead he provides us with a better way. Praise God, he makes his righteousness available to us, through faith in Christ.

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