Is there any man able to perfectly keep the commandments of God? Whenever we study the 10 commandments or the moral law of God that binds all of humanity for all time, a question like this always comes. However, it shouldn’t take us long to answer this, and the answer is a resounding NO!
Since we cannot fulfill the law perfectly and it only takes one disobedience which will make us forever unable to keep it, we are under the curse of the law (James 2:10, Gal 3:10).
That’s why when we study it, it is not to teach us that we can fulfill it for none is righteous.
A Truthful Affirmation
Ecclesiastes 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous person on earth who always does good and does not ever sin.
The passage above emphatically affirms (indeed, surely) a universal truth that none is righteous, which includes sins of commission (never sins) and the sins of omission (does good).1
In the first letter of Apostle John, he gives us the implication of affirming that man is righteous and does not sin which also includes the believers.
To say that we have no sin is a form of deception (1 John 1:8). To say that we have not sinned is to accuse God of being a liar (1 John 1:10). This is the reality of sin: We have sinned and still commits sin. Again, to deny this reality is to deceive ourselves, and to make God a liar.
A Decisive Opposition
Man by nature hates God and stands in opposition to Him since the fall. The fall caused total alienation of man from God and they will never come to Him unless His saving grace works in them. Thomas Goodwin (1600-1679) in his massive work An Unregenerate Man’s Guiltiness Before God writes, “…sin hath not only entered in upon the world of mankind, but hath universally overflown it for sin.“
This is also confessed by 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, “From this original corruption [fall of men in Adam], whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil.”
The flesh opposes or “sets” itself against the will of God.
Gal 5:17 For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want.
The flesh is hostile to God. It is unwilling and unable to come to God.
Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.
The flesh or the natural man cannot accept the things of God
1 Cor 2:14 But a natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
No mere man since the fall is able to fulfill the law of God, but daily breaks them for he hates the Law-giver in his heart and mind.
A Universal Description
In the authoritative Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, the Author, God Himself testifies the wickedness of men. Look at the following verses how men are described universally.
Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.
In Genesis 8:21, God cursed the ground on the basis of man’s evil heart from his youth.
In Romans 3:9-20, all men without exception are not righteous. Notice its total description: All have turned aside; together they have become worthless (v.12), from the throat, tongue, mouth, feet, and eyes. The apostle concludes by saying that the whole world may be held accountable to God (v.19). Men are without excuse because of their unrighteousness and ungodliness (Romans 1:18-20).
In James 3:2-12, the author tells us that men are impure in their hearts, mind, and action.
Again, since no one can perfectly obey God’s commands, to depend on one’s good works in order to merit salvation is to incur the curse of God. We sin because we are sinners.
The law is given to show our filthiness and inability to fulfill it that we may come to Christ (Gal 3:24), who alone is righteous and has the righteousness that we need that we might be acceptable before God’s sight, as He perfectly obeyed the law for us; and forgiveness, when He shed His blood on the cross and rose again, fully satisfying the wrath of God that should fall upon His people because of their sins.
If you trust in Him, He will clothe you with His own righteousness. The righteous for the unrighteous. Trust in Him alone with repentance and faith.
The fact of our sinfulness does not excuse us to keep on sinning (Rom 6:1). The fact of our unrighteousness should cause us to groan and to desire to be set free at last (Romans 7:24).
Our confession states in chapter 15, para. 5 “…although there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation, yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that repent…”
Though we cannot completely and perfectly obey the law, and we fall, yet we are being sanctified daily. We are given grace and new hearts that we may obey the law, not to be saved but to show the fruit of our justification. Our obedience to the law of God is the norm for our sanctification. Though perfection is unattainable, it is pursuable in Christ by the grace of God.
If you are a believer, the best thing that you can do by God’s grace is to behold (fix your eyes upon) Christ that you may be transformed from glory unto glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).
So we sing the hymn Jesus, lover of my soul. The third stanza speaks to the heart of this post: None is righteous and that includes you! We are all unrighteous but Jesus is full of grace and truth. Come to Him!
Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name,
I am all unrighteousness;
Vile and full of sin I am,
Thou art full of truth and grace.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
Note: This post is taken from our pastor’s sermon during our midweek service at Bella Vista Outreach.
1 Tyndale Old Testament Commentary on Ecclesiastes by Michael A. Eaton
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