In the two preceding chapters Paul had written of the guilt of the Gentiles and of the Jews separately. Now he takes them together and proves from Scripture that ALL MEN ARE SINNERS and there is none righteous, no, not one. Through these verses he is supporting the conclusion which he had in mind all along and at which he arrives in Verse 20; namely, that by the deeds of the Law no man can be justified! And all of this is to set forth THE TRUE WAY OF PEACE as shown in Verses 21-26.
(Vs. 9) The Jews are not superior or any better off than the Gentiles with regard to their state and condition before God. Though the Jews had the advantage with respect to external privileges and revelations, yet, says the apostle, we have already proved that all men, Jew and Gentile, are equally born in sin, are by practice sinners, and are equally condemned before the Law of God (Psalm 14:1-3; Eccles. 7:20). All are not only guilty but also in bondage to sin.
(Vs. 10) This statement may be regarded as a summary of all that follows and state the entire case: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE." Not one person possesses a righteousness which can in any way meet the demands of our Holy God. Four times Paul uses the phrase, "there is none," and adds twice, "no, not one!" (Romans 3:23.)
(Vs. 11) Man thinks he is a wise and understanding creature. It is true that he has the faculty to understand things natural, civil, and moraland that quite imperfectly! But man has no spiritual knowledge of God, no true sense of himself and his sin, no true understanding of the way of salvation in Christ (I Corinthians 2:14; John 6:44; Ephesians 4:18).
There is none that seek God earnestly, with the whole heart, or in Christ Jesus. There is none that worship Him in Spirit and truth and commune with Him through the Mediator for His honor and glory! (John 5:40-44.)
(Vs. 12) "They have all gone out of the way" of God and His truth (out of the way of holiness, light, and life) and into their own way of sin and evil (Isaiah 53:6). "They are unprofitable," becoming corrupt and filthy. They are unfit for that for which God made themto glorify God. "There is none that doeth good" in a spiritual manner. Sin and self are mixed with all that we do. Only God is truly good. Even our good works are unacceptable and filthy in His sight (Isaiah 64:6).
(Vs. 13-14) Thus far the apostle has spoken in general terms of man's sin. He now deals with particularssuch as WORDS and ACTIONS.
As to our words, he marks all of the organs of speechthe throat, the tongue, the lips, the mouth. Nothing is more offensive than an open grave sending forth the horrible odor of rotten flesh. The speech that comes from a sinner's throat proceeds forth from a dead, corrupt heart and nature. His TONGUE is used to form words of deceit, hatred, blasphemy, and exaggeration.
The deadly poison of the snake is ejected forth from his LIPS as they form words of slander, gossip, and blasphemy. "His MOUTH is full of cursing" means speaking not only shameful words, but, in particular, blasphemy of God. It is full of harsh words for God, superiors, parents, and all authority. Bitterness, murmuring, and discomfort flow freely.
(Vs. 15) Having shown man's sinful words, Paul turns to his ACTIONS! This comes from Isaiah 59:7. The FEET represent motion and action; and when these are said to be SWIFT to shed blood, it denotes the eagerness and readiness of men to sin against God and one another.
(Vs. 16-18) All the ways men take and the methods they pursue make them miserable and lead to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). The way of sin does not buildit only destroys.
By nature men do not know the way of peace with God in Christ. Christ is the only way of salvation, eternal life, and everlasting peace and happiness. A man can only know this who is taught of God (I Corinthians 2:7-10).
By the fear of God is not meant a fear of hell, damnation, and the wrath of God, but a reverential awe, worship, and affection which leads to faith and obedience. The natural man has contempt for the Living God as shown by his treatment of Christ. He will not honor God.
(Vs. 19) The law which speaks here is the moral law of God as it appears in the WHOLE WORD OF GOD, which every man is bound to observe and obey, Jew and Gentile. ALL mankind is under God's Law. This Law pronounced every son of Adam GUILTY and stops every mouth. We have no defense, no alibi, and nothing to reply; for the holy Law of God exposes our corruption inwardly and outwardly.
(Vs. 20) Therefore this is the apostle's conclusion: The Law cannot save, cannot justify, cannot give us a righteousness. It can only do three things: (1) shut our mouths and declare us guilty before God, (2) teach us the depths and darkness of our sin and depravity, and (3) shut us up to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 7:7-11).