A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
Next in the order of judicial procedure in the indictment, which must be written. "As it is written," Paul says. These passages that he quotes in verses 10-18 are all taken from the Psalms (14 and 53) and from Isaiah. He paints the picture of the world just as an artist might, picking out a passage here and there and drawing a picture with a sweep of the pen.
There are fourteen counts in this indictment:
1. "There is none righteous, no not one" (v. 10).
2. "There is none that understandeth" (v. 11).
3. "There is none that seeketh after God" (v. 11).
4. "They are all gone out of the way" (v. 12).
5. "They are together become unprofitable" (v. 12).
6. "There is none that doeth good, no not one" (v. 12).
7. "Their throat is an open sepulchre" (v. 13).
8. "With their tongues they have used deceit" (v. 13).
9. "The poison of asps is under their lips" (v. 13).
10. "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness" (v. 14).
11. "Their feet are swift to shed blood" (v. 15).
12. "Destruction and misery are in their ways" (v. 16).
13. "The way of peace have they not known" (v. 17).
14. "There is no fear of God before their eyes" (v. 18).
These are God's fourteen points; God has drawn here a comprehensive picture of the human race. These fourteen counts settle some questions.
The world has talked a great deal about righteousness; it has talked about righteous men and righteous nations. How many righteous men and nations are there? "None," says God. The whole trouble with us is that we do not know what righteousness is. What is righteousness? Being right - perfectly right. Sometime ago some scientists wanted to make a ruler that was perfectly accurate and straight. It cost $10,000 to make, and then it was still not straight. Where is the man, where is the nation that is perfectly right in the light of God's standards? There is none.
We are proud of the fact that we know a great many things today, and yet after all, how many are there that understand? "None." We might apply that in the physical world. We know something about electricity, about radium, but where is the man that "understands" them? But God is not talking about physical things here. He is talking about spiritual things, the things of God. He says, "There is nobody that understands." It is derangement in mentality, spiritual incomprehension.
Seeking After God
All the new theologians and the preachers are telling us that the world is seeking after God. Have you ever heard that before, that men are reaching and stretching up, trying to find God? What does God say about it? How many are seeking after God? "None." Not one, really.
"They have all turned aside". The picture intended is that of a caravan crossing the desert, which has gotten off the route. So men have deviated from the right way of God.
"They have become unprofitable." The Greek word is used to translate a Hebrew word, and the Hebrew word is one used to speak of milk that has turned sour. It does not say that God made man originally the way he is now. It says he "became" that way - became unprofitable.
None Doeth Good
Look at the course of life in the phrase "doeth good". We talk about men doing good, and yet God says that "There is none that doeth good," meaning as a course of life (not speaking of single acts). There is not one man of whom it can be said, as a course of life, that "he doeth good."
"Their throat is an open sepulchre." What is an "open sepulchre?" In the East, the grave of a buried person is sometimes left open. This is a dangerous situation; people coming along at night might fall in. Paul says that is what the throat is like. What did James say about the tongue? We can defile ourselves and other people with what we say. In reality, is it not true that the throat of some folks is like an "open sepulchre?" It is like the stench emanating from a decaying body. It gives expression to the vilest and most loathsome thoughts.
"Their tongues are filled with deceit." They may speak nicely to you while at the same time they are intending to insinuate deadly poison.
"The poison of the asp is stored under their lips. Like this deadly poison, so is human speech.
"Mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." There are men in the world who have never opened their mouths except to utter an oath. There are others who have never yet spoken an oath; yet this remains true - their mouth is full. God is not telling so much what man does as what he is. Man is full of cursing and bitterness. A man may have lived all his life who never used indecent language, but when he is about to die and unconscious, he pours forth a stream of profanity! God knew it was there all the time. He knows that you or I may have never lived in an environment to bring it forth, but potentially it is there, in embryo; our mouths are full of it!
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 30)