Romans 3:9-20 – None Is Righteous
What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin,
as it is written:
“There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
there is no one who has understanding,
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
there is no one who shows kindness,
there is not even one.”
“Their throats are opened graves;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of vipers is under their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery are in their paths,
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 silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
Paul is not painting a very pretty picture of the human condition in this first part of Romans. While it might not be a pretty picture, it is a very realistic picture. While humans are capable of some of the most beautiful acts of love, charity, mercy, and service, we are also capable of some of the worst acts of brutality and evil. Its in there with every one of us. I saw evidence of this first hand 3 years ago in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. As part of a visit to a medical mission we partner with there, we visited the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. It was the site of one of the infamous “Killing Fields” of the Khmer Rouge. At these different sites throughout the country, the Khmer Rouge executed over a million of their fellow Cambodians. Throughout Choeung Ek, there is evidence of the brutality of what took place. As you walk around the center, you still see pieces of clothing that is stuck in the ground, bone fragments can be easily found. Throughout the site, there are also pits like these pictured that are excavated mass graves. Wikipedia notes that nearly 9,000 bodies were discovered at the site after the fall of the regime. In the center of the site is a Buddhist stupa that contains over 5,000 of the skulls of the executed. As I finished the photos of Mark, I included pictures from the prison in Phnom Penh that many of those who were executed here were held. It was an incredibly emotional and heartbreaking time that we spent here, but it was a necessary time because we all need to be reminded of the potential (both good and evil) that is within us all, of the need for redemption for us all, and a reminder to never forget what happened in places like Cheoung Ek, Cambodia, Bosnia, Germany, Rwanda, Congo, and so many other places – which will hopefully push us to not let it happen again.