The Depth of Our Sin

“The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Ps. 14:2–3).

- Psalm 14:2-3

If you were to ask the average person why God should let him into heaven, he would probably tell you he should live forever because on earth he tried his best to live a good life. Most people sincerely believe their good deeds will get them into heaven. This understanding only demonstrates how ignorant human beings are of their sin. Relatively speaking, if we measure ourselves against someone like Hitler, most of us could be described, humanly speaking, as “good.” However, the moral standard against which we are judged is not Hitler, or any other sinner. Instead, the very nature of God Himself is the norm by which we measure goodness. Because the standard we are held up to is the character of the Lord, we can plainly see why David says in today’s passage there is no one under heaven who does any good (Ps. 14:3). Jesus tells us we “must be perfect” as our “heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). God does not grade on a curve; He demands absolute conformity to His law. Even if we only commit one “minor” transgression in our entire life, we have fallen fall short of infinite perfection and therefore deserve an infinite judgment (see also Matt. 13:40–42; Rom. 3:23). No one (aside from Christ, 1 Peter 2:22) has ever met this standard, because the Lord only approves of our deeds if they conform to the letter and the spirit of the Law. For example, Jesus demonstrates in the Sermon on the Mount that it is not enough to simply refrain from taking the physical life of our brother, we must also never hate him in our hearts in order to obey the sixth commandment (Matt. 5:21–26). Those who believe they have never violated God’s law do well to read Christ’s command to abandon that which He calls each of us to cast aside (Luke 18:18–30). No person has ever followed Him so perfectly at all times and in all places. Moreover, we have not kept the Law if we are not motivated by gratitude and reverence toward the Lord. We suffer from the effects of original sin (Rom. 3:10–18), and without the work of the Holy Spirit, no one ever seeks after God (Ps. 14:2). Apart from Jesus we are wholly inclined against God, and only He can remedy our situation.

Coram Deo

We must remember that we “sin because we are sinners” and not that “we are sinners because we sin.” All of us are born with a nature at enmity with God, and every wicked act we perform flows from our darkened hearts and minds. Only God can change our nature (John 6:65), and the evidence He has done this is a desire to love and to serve Him. Confess your reliance on the Spirit to change you, and if you have never trusted in Jesus, do so today.

Passages for Further Study

Lev. 11:45
Isa. 64:6–7
Luke 18:9–14
Gal. 2:15–16

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.