Summary: All have sinned
Its common for people today to excuse their faults with the attitude, “He nobody’s perfect!” True enough. People can only be expected to be human which means fallible. Unfortunately, though, few people take that reality seriously enough. Indeed when it comes to their standing before God, all too many people take a different stance: they may not be perfect but they’re “good enough.” This is nothing more than spiritual arrogance. The question is, Are they good enough for God? Romans says they are not. That’s what Paul means when he writes, “all are under sin” (Romans 3:9) and then cits a number of OT passages to back up his claim (3:10-18). It’s not that people are evil through and through, or that they never do any moral good. Quite the contrary. People are capable of impressive acts of courage, compassion and justice. But in light of God’s holy (morally perfect) character, which is the ultimate standard against which people’s goodness is measured, people are indeed far from perfect. Their good behavior turns out to be the exception rather than the rule.
Paul concludes his indictment of mankind with this summary: Jew and Gentile alike stand guilty before God.
Romans 3:9, “9What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.”
Are we better? We refers to the Christians in Rome who will receive this letter. Christians do not have an intrinsically superior nature to all those Paul has shown to stand under God’s condemnation. Under sin as was discussed refers completely enslaved and dominated by sin. This question means “Do we Jews have an advantage over the Gentiles?” (v.1). In other words, “Is there anything we can cling to for protection?” The answer is no, since all are under sin.
Paul in vs. 10-18 is proving that are all under sin Paul quotes without formal introduction a number of different verses from the OT. The collection of citations can be divided into two parts. The first half is made up of negative statements emphasizing humanity’s deficiencies (vv.10-12); the second half mainly exposes human depravity (vv.13-18).
Romans 3:10, “10As it is written:
"There is none righteous, no, not one;’”
The common introduction to Old Testament quotations (1:17; 2:24; 3:4; Matthew 4:4, 6,7,10). The tense of the Greek verb stresses continuity and permanence, and implies its divine authority. None righteous: Man is unversially evil (Psalm 14:1). This quotation comes form Psalm 14:3.
Romans 3: 11There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.”
Man is unable to unable to comprehend the truth of God or grasp His standard of righteousness (Pss 14:2; 53:3; 1 Cor 2:14). Sadly, his spiritual ignorance does not result from a lack of opportunity (1:19-20; 2:15), but is an expression of his depravity and rebellion (Eph 4:18). None. Seeks comes from Psalm 14:2. This verse clearly implies that the world’s false religions are fallen man’s attempts to seek his own interests (Phil 2:21), but his only hope is for God to seek him (John 6:37,44). It is only as a result of God’s work in the heart that anyone seeks Him (Psalm 16:8; Matthew 6:33).