Romans 3:10-20 No-one is Righteous

What then? Are we Jews[a] any better off?[b] No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 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. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

No-one is Righteous

Ironically the mantra that no-one is righteous leads to more happiness.  Let me explain.  If happiness=reality-expectations, then having low expectations of people leads to more happiness.  In our backwards society we try and boost people’s expectations of themselves and others and they are constantly disappointed.  If we understand that people are corrupted and tend to failure, goodness and success come as pleasant surprises.

The question remains, then, which one is true?  Are people good, evil, both or neither?  Matthew 7:11 and these verses combine to give a bleak answer from scripture.  All people are evil.  This does not mean that they are as bad as they can possibly be, it means that they are in rebellion against God.  God’s purpose is to bring goodness, flourishing, and prosperity to the world he has created.  Mankind was created to be agents of God’s goodness, but we have broken the flow.  We no-longer are born as conduits of goodness.  We fall short.  We are twisted.  We do not connect to the source.

Some people miss by a little.  Other people miss by a lot.  Our present strategy to justify ourselves is to change the standards.  We deny evil and we redefine it as good.  We even do away with the categories of good and evil completely.  As Nietzsche famously wrote, we have gone beyond good and evil.  However, we lost something in the process.  We are more disconnected, less satisfied, more miserable, less resilient.  Call it frailty.  Call it failure.  Call it what it is: sin.

Without sin, there is no good news.  Without evil, there is no gospel.


Father, before revival comes to the West we must see our condition.  I pray that people would take sin seriously.  No matter how beautiful the stories are that redefine us as good, and kind in our nature, we find that we are miserable because we are in denial.  Bring truth.  Let us be unashamed of this part of the gospel, so that people will see there is more to life than the false.


  1. What words are repeated in Paul’s description of man?
  2. From where does Paul draw his evidence that mankind is corrupted?
  3. How is this point essential to the gospel?
  4. How has today’s society changed their opinions about mankind?
  5. Does an expectation that mankind be good lead to happiness or disappointment?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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14 Responses to Romans 3:10-20 No-one is Righteous

  1. Maelynn says:

    4. In our world of postmodernism, man is seen as basically good. Man is a standard for himself. He is his own god. This is a striking contrast from Scripture.
    5. I would say that this expectation ultimately leads to disappointment.

  2. Michael McCardle says:

    What words are repeated in Paul’s description of man?
    “No one”
    From where does Paul draw his evidence that mankind is corrupted?
    From the fact that they have turned their backs to God
    How is this point essential to the gospel?
    It shows that every person is in need of God and his salvation through faith in Jesus Christ
    How has today’s society changed their opinions about mankind?
    Today, everyone thinks that everyone is good. Man down’t need someone to tell them to change. Their is nothing wrong with them. That is what society thinks.
    Does an expectation that mankind be good lead to happiness or disappointment?
    Disappointment because when you think everyone is good, I guarantee that there will be that one person who hurts you physically, mentally, and or emotionally.

  3. Megumi says:

    1. None, no one, not one…
    2. The law & the acts of man that contradict the law
    3. If anyone could be righteous on their own, Jesus would not be to only way of salvation.
    4. Society prefers to see mankind as good or at least neutral.
    5. No, just severe disappointment

  4. Kimberly W. says:

    While walking to PCM tonight, my friend and I were talking about sin. Society refuses to believe sin is real; society wants to say everyone is good and right. Instead, we create labels to explain away sin and normalize it. What was once considered deviant is now considered normal. Our society is getting darker, but the people in it refuse to recognize it. And yes, without recognizing sin no one will understand their need for a Savior.

  5. Christina W. says:

    4. How has today’s society changed their opinions about mankind?
    Today’s society sees man as being good. They do not like to see sin or to see themselves as being wrong.
    5. Does an expectation that mankind be good lead to happiness or disappointment?
    The expectation that man is good usually leads to disappointment because the expectation is goodness but people are fallen and will fail us regularly.

  6. Maria T. says:

    Paul tells us over and over that no one is righteous. He stresses the point that there is not one human who has done right. He backs up his point by explaining what all men do instead. They are sinners. No one who reads this passage sincerely can deny that they must be grouped with the sinners. When they are faced with their sin, they become ready for the gospel.

  7. Christa says:

    1. What words are repeated in Paul’s description of man? He repeatedly says “no one,” emphasizing that this description of man applies to everyone
    2. From where does Paul draw his evidence that mankind is corrupted? From other passages of Scripture
    3. How is this point essential to the gospel? This shows us all why we need the gospel so desperately
    4. How has today’s society changed their opinions about mankind? Many people now think that most of humans are essentially good, whereas the Bible tells us that we are sinful to the core
    5. Does an expectation that mankind be good lead to happiness or disappointment? I think that it can lead people to happiness for a little while until they recognize the sinfulness in themselves and others and ultimately are disappointed

  8. 1. He emphasizes “no one” or “none”.
    2. His evidence is firstly from Scripture and secondly from the world around him in which he sees proof of the depth of man’s falleness as attested to in Scripture.
    3. You do not need the gospel if you are not evil. You have to realize that before you can accept your need of Christ and admit Him as Savior.
    4. Society presents us with so much media which exaggerates people to be basically good and if they are slightly bad it is because of events that they themselves have the power to work through. We throw the word “good” around so often especially in applying it to people. We are reluctant to call someone out or acknowledge something as bad because we have to deal with our own lostness when we do.
    5. It leads to disappointment. I really think that is a huge influence on people who struggle with depression. We set the bar so unreachably high that we have encouraged to the point of hopelessness because our encouragement is built on wishful thinking rather than on the reality of the gospel and the beauty in Christ coming to the broken.

  9. 1. None; no one
    2. Other passages of Scripture
    3. This tells us of the fact that we all need the gospel
    4. Society views mankind as mostly good
    5. This leads to disappointment because the standard of goodness is so impossible to reach

  10. Emmy R says:

    It is weird to think about what our lives would be like if we did not receive God’s gift of salvation. There would be no hope, our sin would serve as our god, and our lives would have no purpose or direction. There is none righteous, and that is truth for my own life, but I’m so thankful God sees us as righteous through the blood of His Son.

  11. Olyn says:

    It is sad to see how people have redefined sin as being normal or ok or even noble. People tend to think of themselves and others as ‘good’. Self-confidence has been elevated over humility. People are endlessly disappointing themselves and others because their expectations are high. I look at myself and am ashamed to admit that when I sin I sometimes surprise myself. But why should it be a surprise? Do I slip into the mindset of seeing myself as ‘good’? Please, Lord, let me see myself as you see me: a sinner who is only loved because of the price You paid.

  12. Andrew Moore says:

    The idea of fallen humanity is absolutely essential to the message of the gospel. If people see themselves as mainly good, then why would they even need a savior? To preach a gospel where we fail to emphasize the fallen condition of mankind is a gospel where people do not really need to be saved at all.

  13. Jung Kim says:

    We fall short. We are twisted. We do not connect to the source.
    Yes! This is such an encouraging statement. This honestly made my heart happy and made me smile. Often times, I mean, almost most of the times, we tend to get our hopes up on people. But we tend to fail and believe that God can do everything good out of evil….This convicts me but also instructs me again: Without sin, there is no good news. Without evil, there is no gospel (Worrall).
    May we confidently proclaim that we are broken, forgiven sinners.

  14. Nate Silvieus says:

    There is absolutely no one who has ever achieved righteousness. Every person is completely helpless before the eyes of God. This is the one aspect of Calvinism that I think most people would agree with- total depravity. The comfort however is that there is one person who is completely righteous and fulfilled everything in order to be our Savior from our place of condemnation. The fact that there is only one person to achieve this is extremely comforting. If there were any one else, there would be a dilemma as to who to follow and turn to, there would be the thought that we too could achieve it on our own if more people had which would turn our lives into agony trying to achieve perfection. We therefore take hope and joy in our Savior who has become sin for us and provided propitiation for our sins. Our sinfulness allows the greatest story every told.

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