There is none who does good

If we were to survey people, believers and unbelievers alike, and ask them about the nature of man, I suspect the majority of people would say humanity is inherently good. At the very least they would say, There’s a little good in all of us.” Perhaps we would also find some who would say we are born morally neutral. We’re neither good nor evil until we choose to do either good or evil.

In most cases, this anthropological foundation leads to a soteriology of works. In other words, if someone believes man is inherently good or, at the very least, morally neutral, he will most likely believe salvation is based on a running record of our works. If our good works outweigh our sins, he thinks, then we’ll go to heaven. If not, we may still go to heaven because, after all, God is gracious.

This, however, is not what the Bible teaches. Man is not good. We are not even morally neutral. As David says, They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one (Ps 14:3).

If you’ve ever raised children, you hardly need the Bible to tell this. I have never taught my children to lie. I have never taught them to be disrespectful or disobedient. Even so, I have caught them lying. I have seen them be disrespectful and disobedient. From where does this sinful impulse come? If it doesn’t come from outside of themselves, it must come from inside of themselves.

The prophet Jeremiah says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (Jer 17:9). Our sinfulness is not merely a matter of committing sin. Our very nature is sinful. Elsewhere, David says, I was brought forth, or born, in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me (Ps 51:5). We are sinful from the very moment of conception.

Praise God for his mercy and salvation, but let us never forget from what God saves us. He saves us from our sin. In a very real sense, he saves us from ourselves.

There is none who does good

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