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There is no one righteous

By Mark Grace, CCCNZ Ambassador

Ko te mea hoki ia i tuhituhia, Kahore he tangata tika, kahore kia kotahi: Kahore he tangata e matau ana, kahore he tangata e rapu ana i te Atua; Kua peka ke ratou katoa, kua kino ngatahi: kahore he tangata e mahi ana i te pai, kahore rawa kia kotahi.

faapei ona tusia, E leai sē amiotonu, e leai lava se tasi, e leai se na te lagona, e leai sē saili i le Atua. Ua latou o ese uma lava, ua leaga faatasi i latou, e leai se ua amio lelei, ua leai lava se tasi.

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


More than once as a young adult I’d scoop up my cornflakes only to spit them out again because the milk had gone off. It was putrid. 
 
Often, our perspective of sin is that it’s a small indiscretion, a little overindulgence, ‘being a bit naughty’. Sin is like eating sour grapes—they might not be pleasant to eat, but they make the good stuff taste sweeter. It’s just a little harmless fun.
 
That’s not what sin is in God’s eyes. For him, it’s like drinking off milk. It’s putrid, and revolting. 
 
We often think the real sinners are the crazies who cross the wacky threshold by flying planes into buildings or killing babies. But in Romans 3:10-12, the Bible gives a startling rebuttal: there is no one righteous. They have all become worthless.
 
We mostly think of sin as simply a bit of bad behaviour, but it’s not. At the centre of our sin is rebellion against God. At its heart, sin is an attitude towards God which says, “I don’t want to seek you. I will not love you with all my being. I want my own glory, not yours.” 
 
According to Romans, therefore, we are all rebels at heart. Not only are we rebels at heart, we are rebels in practice. The Bible's conclusion on us is stark. “There is no one who does good, not even one.”
 
The Bible is not saying we are all as bad as we could be, but it is saying at no point are we as good as we could be. In every part of our lives, our relationships, our finances, our thoughts, we are living under the influence of sin, just like milk gone off. What the Bible is describing here is not the degree to which we have “gone off”, but the universal extent to which we have gone off. 
 
I personally find this really difficult to unpack. Why? Because the implications are painful. 
 
We live in a fantastic rural community. But this means my neighbours who are great people, people I love in my wider family, and people I appreciate in the marketplace, are all in rebellion against God and are under his anger and judgement. 
 
But the starkness of these verses only highlight’s God’s grace to us. He sent his own Son to ransom people who were like putrid milk in his mouth. He died for “worthless people”. 
 
Unless we understand how grave our sin is to God, we won’t understand how precious his grace is to us.

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