10. There is none righteous, no not one;
11. There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God;
12. They have all turned aside;
They together have become worthless;
There is none who does good, no not one.
13. Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit;
The poison of asps is under their lips;
14. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
15. Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16. Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17. And the way of peace they have not known.
18. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
These powerful words were first written throughout the Psalms and the book of Isaiah and were pooled together as we see it in Romans by the apostle Paul. Paul was making a point to say that the Jews and the Greeks have equally been charged with sin, and there is no law that justifies sin, but only the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the son of God, in whom we must believe in to have redemption.
Taking a closer look at the Romans passage, we see clearly in verse 10 that without God, there is no righteousness in us. We are totally dependent on God for the righteousness we have. Even if we have spurts and spats of good nature, our nature all together is battered and broken; marred by the sin instilled within us.
Verse 11 indicates there was an absence of God’s righteousness in the land as a result of no one seeking after God. Therefore, we can justly say if one does not seek after God, there will be no understanding of righteousness, and there will BE no righteousness in that person.
The next verse, which is 12, tells us that if one does not seek after God, one will inevitably seek after something else, which means one will turn “aside” from a righteous path. And when one turns aside, one will become “worthless.” Some translations say “unprofitable” or “corrupt.” Without God and His righteousness, what “worth” could we possibly muster before God?
What imagery we are blessed with in verse 13. Yikes! Why is the throat proposed to be an opening to death? Well, Solomon writes us a Proverb that says life and death are in the power of the tongue (18:21). Furthermore, Jesus answered His disciples in Matthew 15:18 saying, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies.”
So then, it seems that since the throat is the canal connecting what is going on in the inside of us to that which makes its way to the outside, then if one is not righteous, not seeking after God but turning sideways, then the death of sin in the heart will have no choice but to spew out of the gateway provided for it and into the atmosphere around that person of which we all have to be witnesses of.
We will, essentially, breathe and speak whatever we have in our heart onto people; which in the case of the setting of the examined passage, is death. Who is “they” in this passage anyway? Apparently everyone. How quickly can a culture collectively turn sideways? Read the Bible, or any history book for that matter, and one will see how quickly it can happen.
Verse 14 is where our nation truly comes to my mind. Watch any average movie and you will catch a glimpse of the cursing that fills our cup of influence. How about the lyrics to the average song? This resounds in the ordinary conversations we hear from day to day, and even those we are involved in. And yet we expect our youth to abstain from such language? That is a far-fetched notion. Not to mention the encroaching bitterness that seemingly wants to see this country reside in continual bicker.
“…feet are swift to shed blood;” (vs.15) Does this passage remind you of recent events in our nation? Unfortunately, sin can lead to heart-shattering events. Verse 16 tells us what is in the wake of the sin that so easily entangles us, and just how true this verse is, and relevant to our current state. The families that have lost loved ones due to the massacre in Las Vegas, and the attacks in schools and churches – what misery it is for the afflicted. The anger it arouses, the division it insinuates. What destruction it causes.
Waging war is the apparent outcome of our sin as many take their focus off of God. Verse 17 tells us peace is not known. Can there be peace without the righteousness of God?
Verse 18: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
I do believe this is the profound statement of all the culminated verses we have examined. The acts of rebellion that we see taking place is not fearing the Lord, but testing Him.
The expansion of boundaries intended to unite our people through acceptance and tolerance is only turning our aim inward against one another, and those boundaries have slipped off of the biblical principles that have always been our rock; and has seeped into the muck of moral opinion and self-gratification.
The result of not seeking after God but turning aside will result in a fearless approach to God. This is the concept our young students are grasping. Our young generation needs to be taught to fear the Lord and seek after Him.
We can, however, turn the tables in our own minds and think about how we can more positively affect our lives and the lives around us. The Romans passage we have read describes a people without the righteousness of God. Perhaps we can explore what the same passage would like describing a people that do seek after God:
There is one righteous, and His name is Jesus.
Jesus understands and can help us understand.
We are always open to seek after Christ, and we must.
We must not turn to the right or the left, but stay straight on the path of righteousness.
We together can make a difference through Christ Jesus.
God is good, follow Him.
Our throats can be a gateway for speaking Life into others.
Let us not practice deceit, but practice prayer and truthfulness.
Let our mouths be full of peace, understanding, and God’s Word.
As others are swift to shed blood, Jesus shed His blood so we may share His love.
In all situations, let us know God’s peace.
Fear God, and we won’t have to fear anything else.