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).
People do not understand spiritual truth (1st cor 2:14) nor do they diligently seek after God. At best, people are satisfied with externals, with “religion”.
Romans 3:12, “ 12They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one."”
Once again Paul is bringing the argument back to Psalm 14:3. This word basically means “to lean in the wrong direction.” It was used to describe a soldier’s running the wrong way, or deserting. All men are inclined to leave God’s way and pursue their own (Is 53:6). Turned aside: This means turning away from God’s way. Unprofitable refers to useless to God or His good purposes. Good: Apart from God people lack true goodness and kindness. While some unbelievers are gracious and kind, these acts ultimately have no value because they do not come from believing hearts that seek to glorify God (1:21). Even a good person can be rebelling against God and seeking his or her own welfare through goodness.
Romans 3:13, “13"Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit";[c]
"The poison of asps is under their lips";”
Open tomb goes back to Psalm 5:9. Tombs were seated only to show respect for the deceased, but to hide the sight and stench of the body’s decay. As an unsealed tomb allows, those who pass to see and smell what is inside, the unregenerate man’s open throat-that is, the foul words that come from it-reveal the decay of his heart (Prov 10:31-32; 15:2,28; Jer 17:9; Matthew 12:34-35; 15:18; James 3:1-12). Asps: Goes back to Psalm 140:3; Matthew 3:7l 12:34).