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©John Yerkes

Chapter 3:9-22 (ESV)

Posted on December 15, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:9-22 (ESV) - What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 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.”
 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
     in their paths are ruin and misery,
 and the way of peace they have not known.”
     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

Question to consider: Why can no one be justified by the Law?

Even though being Jewish had the advantage of being given the oracles of God and knowing and being known by their creator, Paul’s argument was that God did not consider them to be any more justified by their own righteousness than the Gentiles. Paul didn’t give an exception for himself but counted himself among the Jews.

In case the message wasn’t clear enough, Paul listed a litany of scripture references that drove home the point that everyone stands guilty before God! People may profess to “seek God”, but the truth is that they seek to justify their own behavior and fear their reputation among other people over that of God. People may be kind to an individual’s face while speaking poisonous lies behind their back. People profess to love life but choose actions and lifestyles that inevitably lead to death.

The Law doesn’t offer anything to save us from sin. It just gives us knowledge of it. There are those who think that people will behave better if they are more educated on matters, but that doesn’t bear out in reality. How many anti-bullying programs have schools tried to implement only to have the behavior manifest in more subtle and creative ways? Has sex education and distribution of free condoms done anything to curb unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases?

So if the Law only tells us what sin is and does nothing to save us from the consequences of it, how can someone be saved? Paul says by a foreign righteousness who can reconcile us to God. The prophets announced His coming, and when the Son of God became incarnate, He fulfilled the Law of God and willfully became our righteousness. I say willfully because He had to decide that He would take responsibility for the sins of the whole world and endure the Father's wrath on our behalf in order to credit His righteousness to us.

The faith we put in Jesus is to say that I willingly give up any credit for my own attempts at righteousness and receive His precious gift of mercy. This calls for faith because we’re putting all of our hope in the fact that Jesus really did pay for our sins, and now that we belong to Him, we have faith that He will rule over us with mercy and grace eternally. Our new life in Christ is true life indeed.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us life in Christ, and help us to set aside our need to boast in our own righteousness so that we may cling to the righteousness given to us. Amen.