First let me clarify “a moral life.” I do not refer only to a sexually moral life, but to a moral life in general—that is a life in which the person serves others, and does not harm others. For example, he helps those who are in need, and refrains from theft, murder, deceiving, and taking advantage of others in any way.
Let me be clear. In saying “a moral life” I am not suggesting that the person is perfect in righteousness and NEVER does something which is morally wrong. Rather I am suggesting that his general life pattern is that of doing right toward other people, and avoiding doing them wrong in any way. He respects other people rather than feeling superior to them, and degrading them before others.
Who can say what other people are “feeling”, craving, desiring, willing, plotting, thinking, or truly love above all else? That is why God is the Judge of men’s hearts.
Who can say what a person would do, outwardly, as well as inwardly, were their circumstances in life to become a bit adverse or unbearable? See, for example, the book of Job.
The relatively moral person without God in their life would lose his inward, if not also the outward (pharisaical type), morality, if it were possible that he ever had them to begin with, which is questionable.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer.17:9)
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; (Isa.64:6a)
37 Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matt.22)
I was just waiting for that kind of response.
It could be that all is sin, nothing but sin, the slow drip drip drip of sin on every thought and feeling, deceiving us into helping this or that needful person, showing kindness, standing up for the unborn, all sin all the time.
NOT. That would be crazy talk. Sometimes we don’t need to think, we just need to LOOK!! And this is one of those times. Under the heuristics that Paidion laid out, the answer is of course YES.
yep pretty much… it’s what like Chad said “…the Christianity that is presented to them!” — what I’ve come to call churchianity or religianity.
Jeremiah’s… “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” is NOT a global statement supposedly indicative of humanity in his natural state… he was referencing the wicked heart of Judah in her sin and the due consequences of such (vss 1, 5 etc).
Yep… This verse is taken out of context, clearly. I hear preachers use it constantly. The hilarious part about using that verse is that you can just take anyone who disagrees with you and say “You are deceived, here is why” and of course the person who is deceived can’t know it, right? Otherwise they would not be deceived, right? So saying “I am not deceived” isn’t anything at all. And in return, the person who is accused of being deceived can return the same exact logic back onto the accuser. Finger pointing at the greatest level.
He answers it yes. But gives some conditions, in the second part - “on the other hand”
If you look at my signature, there is a link - on the Inclusivist position. They respond to the light, given to them. So I would answer in the affirmative. I know Buddhist monks, nuns and lay folks, who are very ethical and moral. But they don’t believe, in a creator God.
Just a link footnote. The only version of universalism, I could buy into (if I ever, became a convinced one)… Would be one involving, a Catholic version of purgatory - for all.
This site indicates peoples’ opinions concerning the question in various parts of the world. To give the most extreme examples:
According to surveys, in Ghana, 99% of the population hold that one must believe in God in order to be moral.
At the opposite end of the scale, only 15% of the population of France hold that view.
Surprisingly, over half the people of United States (53%) hold that one must believe in God in order to be moral.
In Canada, it’s 31%.
Personally, I found these results surprising. I had expected that there would be far fewer people who think that it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral. Then having learned that, throughout the world, a large proportion of people believe this, I expected that there would be several persons from this forum who would attempt to defend the concept (not just one). And, I was surprised again!
Don - I do wonder how those surveys were designed and worded.
Put one way, the question could be interpreted as “Is believing in God something demanded by morality?” In other words, equating belief with a moral decision; conversely, that not believing in God is immoral.
If a person construes ‘belief’ as a moral obligation, not an intellectual one, then I can understand the person saying that, unless you believe in God, you cannot be moral.
Well, Dave, I have never heard of anyone who thought that believing in God was an aspect of morality. However, I see your point, and I see that it would be informative to be made aware of the wording of the survey.
But here’s the way some Christians might think. God’s enabling grace is provided through the sacrifice of Christ in dying for us. I hold to that belief myself, as being the essence of salvation from sin (not merely from the penalty, but deliverance from the sin itself). This is expressed Paul’s letter to Titus:
For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and to live sensible, righteous, and devout lives in the present age, expecting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; encourage and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)
Now if a person takes this teaching too far, he might think that it is impossible to live a moral life without appropriating to oneself this enabling grace. Though I don’t take it that far, I do believe that this enabling grace facilitates moral living, so that it comes more naturally.
In any case, I can give a personal example of a non-believer who made provision for me without any obligation to do so. That kind of act is a primary example of the very essence of morality.
I live in a rural area, on the same 160 acres of land on which my father (who was a subsistence farmer) lived and worked. Though our house has electric baseboard heaters, I have had a wood heater in the basement for many years (electricity is very costly in Ontario). Most of this land is forest, and so I, myself, got the wood up, cutting it with a chain saw. After cutting down the dead trees and cutting them up into stove lengths and placing them upright in the trailer, I would bring them to the house. I needed about 6 cords for the winter, or about 30 trailer loads. But I am now in my 80th year of life, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to get up the wood. So I have been purchasing wood for the last 3 years.
Last year I bought 3 cords of wood from a man whom I’ll call “Jack.” Jack had said to me one time, “I am not at all religious.”
I ordered only 3 cords since I had wood left over from the previous year. It just so happened that Jack had a lot of pain in his lower back, and was unable to unload the wood manually and pile it. So he left with me his large trailer with the fire wood, and I paid him for 3 cords. I managed to hire another man to unload it. But before doing so, I thought I would measure the load just to see how close to 3 cords it was. So I measured it, and found that it was actually 4½ cords! When Jack returned to pick up his trailer, I told him that he had actually brought 4½ cords, expecting to pay him for the extra. But Jack simply smiled, and said, “It’s okay—if you’re satisfied” and would not accept any additional money.
I didn’t vote or state an answer one way or the other.
Atheists can have a relative outward (superficial pharisaical type) moral behaviour while everything is going well in their life or their god (Satan) allows or forces them to do so, or, conceivably, by the power or grace of God.
It’s unlikely they’d be worshipping God as the Christians did while they were being crucified, burnt alive or fed to the lions.
From personal experience with non-believers, I cannot accept the proposition that all the good works of unbelievers spring from hypocrisy or superficiality. I don’t doubt that sometimes that is the case. But sometimes that is the case with Christians, too.
I read the “13 things a lost person cannot do.” I agree about that. But I notice “doing good works” and “living a moral life” are not included in the 13.
However, I disagree with Sproul’s article. Here is the passage from Romans 3 that he partially quotes:
10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
Can we conclude from this that NO ONE is righteous? That NO ONE seeks God? That NO ONE does good? That EVERYONE is a deceiver? That EVERYONE curses and speaks bitterness? That EVERYONE is quick to kill other people? That NO ONE has peace?
This passage is based on Psalm 53. Read the Psalm, and you will see that the reference is not to all people on earth, but to those who “eat up” "God’s people. The psalmist is saying that None of THEM is righteous. None of THEM seeks God. None of THEM does good, etc.
Both Psalm 53 & 14 speak of the “sons of men” rather than just some wicked men:
2 The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
In Romans chapters 1 to 5 Paul is arguing that all are under sin, sinners and therefore unrighteous:
3:9 What then? Are we any better? Not at all. For we have already made the charge that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin.
10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 There is no one who understands; no one who seeks God
3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
5:18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.
19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Romans 3:10-18 is given as additional support for the statement of Romans 3:9:
“Paul has just said all men are “under (the power of) sin”…In this section it is as if he says “Are you still not convinced? Let me show you further
proof the Old Testament!” He is bringing his arguments to a climax demonstrating that the totally sinful state of both the Jew and the Gentile is repeatedly confirmed by the testimony of the Scriptures. Paul begins by quoting from Psalm 14:1-3 which shows the universality (“no one…good…all turned aside”) of sin.”
“…Paul immediately follows this pattern by quoting from a series of Old Testament passages which demonstrate, in no less than fourteen counts,
the perversity and depravity of the entire world.”
“…The following section (Ro 3:10-20) is a veritable scriptural resume and demonstration of the condemnation of all men, both Jews and Gentiles.
Are there no exceptions? Paul answers quite sharply in (Ro 3:10, 11, 12) with a barrage of negatives, “There is none…not even one…none…none…not even one.”
“…Paul, like Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, goes to the “heart” of the matter, initially selecting man’s tongue, fully aware that the tree is known by its fruit, for out of the mouth comes that which fills the heart (cp Mt 15:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, Mk 7:21, 22, 23, Ge 6:5, 8:21, Job15:16, Ps 51:5, Eccl 8:11, 9:3, Ro1:29, 30, 31,32 Titus 3:3, therefore Solomon writes Pr 4:23-note).”
“…This does not mean man is as depraved as he could be, but that there is always room for “deprovement” because he is under the power of sin.”
“Depravity means that man fails the test of pleasing God. He denotes his unmeritoriousness in God’s sight. This failure is total in that (a) it affects all aspects of man’s being and (b) it affects all people.”
“Positively, total depravity means (a) that corruption extends to every facet of man’s nature and faculties; and (b) that there is nothing in anyone that can commend him to a righteous God.”
"…A Russian poet named Turgenev conveys Paul’s thought perfectly writing:
“I don’t know what the heart of a bad man is like, but I do know what the heart of a good man is like and it is terrible.” "
“…Just in case there is someone who says “What about those who seek for God?”. Paul’s answer (“none” = absolutely none) is that such a man does not exist, for we are all alienated from God and view Him as our enemy (Ro 5:10-note; Ro 8:7-note; Col 1:21, 22-see notes).”
"…This verse clearly implies that all the world’s false religions are fallen man’s attempts to escape the true and living God—not to seek after Him. Man’s natural tendency is to seek his own interests. Paul writes that “all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Php 2:21-note)
“…Adam, sinning, turned his back and fled from a holy God. God had to take the place of the seeker: “Adam, where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9) So it has ever been. No human being has ever sought the holy God. Conscious of his creature weakness, and also of responsibility and guilt, and filled with terrors of conscience, or terrors directly demon-wrought; or perhaps under the delusion that some “god” (really, demon) might grant him this or that favor, man has built his temples and conducts his worship. Banish from your mind the idea that any human being has ever had a holy thought, or love for a holy God, in his natural heart! Grace “praeveniens et efflcax” (grace “prevenient and efficacious”) is the old phrase expressing the truth that God Himself takes the place of the Seeker, Convicter, Persuader, Giver, and final Perfecter of all man’s salvation. His sovereign grace goes ahead of, and brings into being, all human response to God. (Romans 3: Devotional and Expositional)”
“…No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him (Amplified adds “attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me”); and I will raise him up on the last day. (Jn 6:44)”
“Man in himself is utterly hopeless and helpless. He does not even have the strength to come to Jesus by himself. Unless the Father first begins to work in his heart and life, he will never realize his terrible guilt and his need of a Savior.”
“Have you ever heard the statement that so-and-so is “really seeking after God.” Paul says in this verse that this is not so, at least on the basis of their depraved sin nature! If they are seeking after God, it is only because God has put it in their heart to seek after Him!”
“…In a use that parallels Paul’s use in Romans, the psalmist writes that “Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek (ekzētéō) Thy statutes.” (Ps 119:155)”
“…For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search (ekzētéō) for My sheep and seek them out…Ezek 34:10-12”
“…Note that in Romans 3:11, ekzētéō is in the present tense which speaks of a continual diligent seeking or seeking as a habit of one’s life. Such intense seeking is something fallen man simply does not do on his own volition, independent of God’s intervention!”
“Mankind does not search for the Living and True God or His truth. Rather, as Paul has already stated in his opening arguments in this epistle, men continually, purposefully, willfully “suppress (quash, actively hold down) the truth in unrighteousness” and “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (see notes Romans 1:18; 1:21) The “seeking” that men do results in idolatry wherein man exchanges “the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures… (and) exchanged the truth of God for a (the) lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever. Amen.” (see notes Romans 1:23; 1:25) There is one exception to no one seeking God. If the Holy Spirit is truly working in one’s heart, there is an authentic seeking.”
"If you have been paying close attention to Paul’s argument, you may be somewhat confused. Romans 3:11 seems superficially contradictory to his earlier statement that God in His righteous judgment would render eternal life to those who by perseverance in doing good seek (zeteo - present tense = continually) for glory and honor and immortality. (see note Romans 2:7) This verse clearly speaks (as does Heb 11:6 discussed above) of the vital importance of seeking God. How do we resolve this paradox? As so often is the case the answer lies in the inscrutable (not readily investigated, interpreted, or understood) nature of the sovereignty of God.
"Luke quotes Jesus declaration that
“The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Lk 19:10)” "
“In this verse Luke summarizes his main theme, the present purpose of the Son of God’s ministry was to seek and save.”
"Paul wrote a parallel thought to Timothy that
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. (1Ti 1:15).
“Jesus explains to the Samaritan woman at the well that an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. (Jn 4:23)”
“Thus God is seeking men, before they seek Him, and in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him. (Acts 10:35).”
“The Holy Spirit is omnipresent in the world, convicting men and constraining them. Somehow, in the wisdom of God, some men are moved by Him to begin to seek Him for themselves, and as His Word says He promises to be"a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6)."
“The Gentile Centurion Cornelius was evidently one such man, so God then led Peter to go to Cornelius to instruct Him concerning Christ (read his account in Acts 10).”
Young’s Literal: All did go out of the way, together they became unprofitable, there is none doing good, there is not even one. (Rom.3:12)
“All - The Greek word pas means just that - “all” with no exceptions. Every person ever born has been born “infected” with the deadly sin “virus” (Ro 5:12-note). The only “antidote” is the Good News of the Cross of Jesus Christ (Ro 1:16-note, 1Co 1:18). Have you received Calvary’s cure, the only cure that guarantees complete remission of your sins? You say it will cost too much! Yes it cost God His only Son, but the price of redemption is free and simply needs to be received by grace through faith. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved (Acts 16:31)!”
“Here is a list of the Old Testament passages which Paul quotes from
Romans 3:10-12 from Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3
Romans 3:13 from Psalm 5:9 and Psalm 140:3
Romans 3:14 from Psalm 10:7
Romans 3:15-17 from Isaiah 59:7-8 and see Isaiah 48:22
Romans 3:18 from Psalm 36:1”
“…All (no exceptions except the God-Man Jesus) men are inclined to leave God’s way and pursue their own (cf. Isa 53:6).”
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa.53:6)
"Ps 53:1 For the choir director; according to Mahalath. A Maskil of David. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God,” They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good.
“Eccl 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.”
“None (3756) (ou) means absolutely none. No exceptions.”
“Good (5544)(chrestotes from the adjective chrestos = useful, profitable in turn from chraomai = to furnish what is needed in turn from chráo = lend, furnish as a loan) describes the quality of being helpful and beneficial. Chrestotes connotes genuine goodness and generosity of heart.”
“…None who does good…in the sense of doing anything of spiritual/eternal value.”
"Isaiah phrases it this way (notice he did not say “all of you” but rightly included himself)…
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; (literally “menstrous cloths”) and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:4)”
Paul explains how it is possible for man to do “good works” writing…
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship (poiema gives us our English word “poem”), created in Christ Jesus (2Cor 5:17-note = created to live a brand new style of life) for good works, (although we’re not saved by good works, we are saved for good works) which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (instead of walking “according to the prince of the power of the air… in the lust of our flesh” Eph 2:2-3). (Eph 2:8-9-note, Eph 2:10-note)”
“…James explains the source of all “good” first warning us…”
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. (James 1:16,17-note)”
"…Spurgeon commenting on Ps 14:3 writes
“The Hebrew phrase is an utter denial concerning any mere man that he of himself does good.”
"…“The Holy Spirit adds the crushing threefold negative none … no, not one.”
“And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. (Mk.10:18)”
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. (Mt.7)
Young’s Literal: A sepulchre opened is their throat; with their tongues they used deceit; poison of asps is under their lips. (Rom.3:13)
Ps 5:9 “There is nothing reliable in what they say; their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave. They flatter with their tongue.”" (NASB)
Ps 5:9 “For there is no truth in their mouth; their heart is vain; their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit.” Septuagint (LXX)"
"Paul quotes from Psalm 5 where David writes that
Ps 5:9 “There is nothing reliable in what they say; their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave. They flatter with their tongue.”"
"…Jesus addressing the “super religious” (but sans relationship with God) Pharisees said
“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. “The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil.” (Mt 12:34, 35).”
"…Man’s heart is deceptive, centuries earlier Jeremiah recording that
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)
'The imperfect tense of the verb pictures continual, repetitive deceit. Over and over again they deceive! Unfortunately, we’ve all experienced the poison of deceit. The imperfect tense also speaks of men persevering in their hypocritical speech."
“For the unregenerate, natural man, lying and other forms of deceit come naturally and are a habitual, normal part of his life. Those little white lies, the way we erect facades, the way we claim to feel one way when we actually feel another; we think all this deceit is harmless and unnoticed. But God sees it.”
“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. (Js.3:8)”
““the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” (James 3:5-10)”
Young’s Literal: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. (Rom.3:14)
Bitterness is literally from the heart of unregenerate man, & exists there whether he is aware of it or not. A mouth of bitterness is a figure of speech. Human mouths do not literally contain things such as “cursing and bitterness”, but rather saliva, food, air, teeth, tongues, dental floss, etc. . Though the mouth may speak forth words that are from the heart.
“…Do you doubt that the human mouth is filled with cursing and bitterness? If so, then try this little experiment. Take a walk down the street and punch the first stranger you meet right in the nose. Then pay attention to what comes out of his mouth! (Then run for your life!)” (Read the full sermon Romans 3:9-20: The Man in the Mirror)"
“…Full of cursing pictures constant cursing, as if ready to be spilled at the least provocation.”
"…The Apostle James says that “The tongue is set on fire of hell.” "
"Ray Stedman comments that…
“Cursing is blaming God; that is profanity. Bitterness is reproaching God because of the way he has run your life. This is what we hear all the time, even from Christians. We hear complaints about your circumstances, where God has placed you, and what he is doing with your life – cursing and bitterness.” (Read the full text of the sermon Total Wipeout)"
“…Pikria defines a settled hostility that poisons the whole inner man. Somebody does something we do not like, so we harbor ill will against him. Bitterness leads to wrath, which is the explosion on the outside of the feelings on the inside.”
"…Bitterness reflects a smoldering resentment, a brooding grudge–filled attitude, an unwillingness to forgive or a harsh feeling. Bitterness is the opposite of sweetness and kindness (cf. husbands toward wives in Colossians 3:19 - see note). It harbors resentment and keeps score of wrongs (cf 1Cor 13:5)
“Pikría or bitterness is It is the spirit of irritability that keeps a person in perpetual animosity, making him sour and venomous. Bitterness applies to the bitterness of spirit to which men give vent by bitter words.”
“…Every age of mankind, our own certainly included, has been characterized by people who use their tongues as vicious weapons. Their attacks not only are against those they know well enough to hate but sometimes, as David seems to intimate, even against strangers, simply for the perverse pleasure of venting their anger and hatred.”
Young’s Literal: Swift are their feet to shed blood. (Rom.3:15)
"…In Romans 3:15-17 Paul is quoting from (Isa 59:7-8)
7 Their feet run to evil,
And they hasten to shed innocent blood;
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
Devastation and destruction are in their highways.
8 They do not know the way of peace,
And there is no justice in their tracks;
They have made their paths crooked;
Whoever treads on them does not know peace."
“Whereas the preceding indictment was directed at men’s sinfulness as shown primarily by their words, in the next three verses Paul focuses his charges primarily against the conduct or actions of unredeemed men.”
“These three verses are almost like a condensed history of the world.”
“…Their feet (4228)(pous = the part of the body used to stand and walk) Scripture frequently uses the path of one’s feet as a picture for one’s approach to life.”
“The feet, as the emblem of walking, symbolize the whole conduct.” (Godet)"
“…As used in the present verse, oxus pertains to that which is rapid in motion. Quick, meaning a very short period of time. Swift, nimble, probably since the idea of sharpness also implies eagerness. People apart from God are prone to violence. At the slightest provocation they commit murder.”
“…“Swift” denotes the readiness and eagerness of men to murder others, which in turn shows the dreadful malice and hatred that is in them.”
“Robert Haldane - The most savage animals do not destroy so many of their own species to appease their hunger, as man destroys of his fellows; to satiate his ambition, his revenge, or [greed]. (Romans 3 Commentary).”
"MacArthur writes that
“Even in the United States, with its Christian heritage, since the turn of the twentieth century twice as many of its citizens have been slain in private acts of murder than have been killed in all the wars of its entire history. According to researcher Arnold Barnett of the MIT, a child born today in any one of the fifty largest cities in the United States has the chance of one in fifty of being murdered. Dr. Barnett estimated that a baby born in the 1980s is more likely to be murdered than an American soldier in World War II was of being killed in combat.” (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press)
"Wayne Barber reminds us that
“the vengeance of lost man is incredible. We have seen it in many places, even in the heart of a little child when some other child takes his toy and he looks at him and says, “I hate you. I hate you. You took my toy. I wish you were dead.” Where did that come from? Was he taught that in school? Was he taught that at home? No. It came from the fact that he was born depraved as a result of Adam’s sin. The vengeance of even a child shows us that man does not have any good in him whatsoever. If you ever think differently, you have missed the point of why the gospel is such good news.” (Barber, Wayne. Notes on Romans)"
“…Look back over human history and what do you have? You have the ruins of cities that have been destroyed by somebody else…Homer sang a song about the city of Troy, “The city of Troy is built on the ruins of an earlier city.” Since the time Homer sang that song they have found seven more cities underneath the ruins. Now you say, “I haven’t killed anybody. I haven’t shot anybody. I am a pretty decent person.” No…you have covered it over. It is like putting honey over the top of it, but underneath it is the same vengefulness. One of these days, the Lord Jesus is going to take the church out of this world and this world will for the first time see the hate that has been here, the depravity of man’s heart, wickedness like never before. Thank God we are not destined for His wrath. Thank God we have received the Lamb. (The full measure of man’s destructiveness) is going to be seen one day. The only thing that is restraining it right now is the presence of the Holy Spirit in this world. (Barber, Wayne. Notes on Romans)”
Young’s Literal: And a way of peace they did not know. (Rom.3:17)
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. (Jn.14:27a)
"Isaiah records a similar refrain…
“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” (Isa 57:21)"
“They do not know the way of peace, and there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked; Whoever treads on them does not know peace. (Isa 59:8) (Paul is quoting from this verse here in Romans 3:17)”
"As Luke explains that Jesus came to show man this peace and…
“TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk 1:79)"
“Compare man’s awful history of warfare in every age and in every generation (beginning on the day that Cain killed Abel). The Society of International Law at London once gave statistics declaring that for last 4,000 years of human history there have been but 286 years of peace despite more than 8,000 peace treaties. In the last 300 years there have been 286 major and minor wars in Europe. Man’s history has been a history of war and conditions are not getting better. What wars and conflicts are taking place in the world right now? When man is not at peace with God (compare Romans 5:1-note), then he is at war with his neighbor. (Romans 3)”
"…“a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
“there is none that does good, no, not one; and therefore must be unprofitable. There is none that can do good in a spiritual manner, without the grace of God, strength from Christ, and the assistance of the Spirit; and there is not even a spiritual man, that can do good perfectly, and without sin.”
“…with their tongues they have used deceit; which may design the sin of flattery, for the words in Psalm 5:9; the place referred to, are, “they flatter with their tongue”; either God or men, themselves or others, their princes or their neighbour; for there are flatterers in things sacred and civil, there are self-flatterers, court flatterers, and flattering preachers, and all abominable and mischievous; or the phrase may design the sin of lying, either politically, officiously, perniciously, and religiously; and in this latter way, either with respect to doctrine or practice:”
All this to say that the sinning, unrighteous, unbelieving totally depraved individuals that Paul (and OT writers) so lavishly spoke of were the old covenant people of God looking to find righteousness through the Mosaic law. From my point of view, if we read all of the bible as if it were addressing each of us personally throughout all time, we become forced to pick and choose which scriptures we will adhere to and which we will throw away. Then we create creeds to force others to adhere to or ‘profess’ in order to become part of a church or denomination. It all becomes very messy.
If we allow the historical significance of the scriptures to speak in time and person relevance, then the story becomes clearer and we realize that the bible is about the people of God, as we see where Paul goes on to show how ALL of Israel will be saved via the grafting of the gentiles in which the dispersed ten northern tribes were part of.
But to get that you have to be able to understand that Paul was talking to people in the first century. A specific people in a specific point in history.
So in that context, we have no real scriptural evidence that ALL people are wicked.
So, Origen, do you understand the Scripture you quoted above, as affirming that people such as Mother Theresa or Tom Oshiro who lived their entire adult lives to serve needy people, did no good at all?