this is a passage i have really loved for a while, but in reading "chosen by God", sproul has taken it even deeper for me.
"None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God."
most people would agree that "no one is righteous", a common response i get when i share my faith is "nobody's perfect!" however (as Paul goes into later) God says that not only is no one perfect, but we can't even do a single good thing.
something that sproul pointed out about the above verse that smacked me on the head was this:
"how many times have you heard christians say, or have you heard the words from your own mouth, "so and so is not a christian, but he's searching"? It is a common statement among christians. the idea is that there are people all over the place who are searching for God. their problem is that they just haven't been able to find him. he is playing hide and seek. he is elusive.
in the garden of eden when sin came into the world, who hid? Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. Jesus wasn;t the one who was hiding. God is not a fugitive. we are the ones on the run."
"All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one."
"Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive."
"The venom of asps is under their lips."
"Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known."
the idea that people cant do good is controversial. many people who have no claims to be christians have done wonderful things. one of the many examples would angelina jolie who has adopted many orphans and given lots of money to africa.
sproul writes about the concept of "enlightened self-interest", which he defines as "that motivation we all feel to perform external righteousness and to restrain some evil impulses within ourselves". this enlightened self-interest does lead us to do some "good" things. however, even our most selfless acts are still tainted with sin (for example, the desire for people's approval, or for God's approval.)
in light of our inability to do anything good without false motives shows that we really cant do anything good, just as the bible states. i love how vividly paul describes this when he says "The venom of asps is under their lips. "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." etc etc... this almost sounds extreme, but doesn't even come close to describing the reality of how horrible our sin is in the eyes of God.
"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
this statement caps off paul's point. we dont fear God. we just can't, apart from him allowing it.
as a side note, and a possible future post, if you believe this doctrine of sin, that humans in our natural state are full of sin and incapable of doing any good, then you are on the first step towards believing the doctrine of sovereign grace (that it is fully God's choice to whom to give grace).