Wrested Scriptures Made Plain
By W.E. Shepard
“There is none righteous, no, not one.”—Rom. 8:10.
we again face the necessity of studying the context to enable us to
understand properly the meaning of a verse. To take out this segment
of the text and declare that there is none righteous, no, not one,
will at once entangle a person in such a snarl of contradiction that
he will be hopelessly unable to extricate himself.
word of God properly understood does not contradict itself. When we
find some statement which is an apparent discrepancy, which fly in the
face of the general tenor of the Scriptures, we should neither expose
our ignorance in the wrong use of it, nor practice wrong in
“handling the word of God deceitfully.”
That it really means that there is none righteous in the
world, we would place this portion of the text, “There is none
righteous, no, not one,” alongside of the practical teaching of
God’s word, we would at once find ourselves in a dilemma, and the
odds would be against us.
us place by the side of it a few verses like the following:
children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is
righteous, even as He is righteous.”—I John 3 :7.
would seem from this text that John was warning them against those who
claimed there were none righteous, declaring that “he that doeth
righteousness is righteous.”
ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth
righteousness is born of Him.”—I John 2:29.
they (Zacharias and Elizabeth) were both righteous, walking in all the
commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”—Luke 1:6.
effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”—Jas.
verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have
desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen
we find that instead of there being none righteous, no, not one, the
Word shows the number to be “many.”
Scriptures abound both in precept and in examples of righteousness. If
the atonement of Jesus cannot make men righteous, we ask, What can it
do? Our own righteousness, we confess, is “filthy rags,” and Jesus
said, “Except your righteousness should exceed the righteousness of
the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom
of heaven.”—Matt. 5:20.
must have the inwrought righteousness of Christ. Not a robe simply,
that covers our unrighteousness, leaving us sinful and unholy, but His
righteousness imparted to us.
we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—I John 1:9. If
all unrighteousness is cleansed away, then certainly there is
righteousness in its place. If the atonement of Christ cannot get down
as deep as sin has gone, it must be a failure. But who would say that
Christ made a failure in His atonement?
is so much ignorance abroad in the land. So many seem to think that it
makes very little difference if they do “sin a little.” They claim
that one cannot help sinning some every day in word, thought and deed.
They forget, or else are awfully ignorant, that the Word is extremely
prohibitory on that line. Hear the Word of the Lord:
in awe and sin not.”—Psalm 4:4.
to righteousness and sin not.”—I Cor. 15:34.
and sin no more.”—John 8:11.
shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?“—Rom.
that committeth sin is of the devil.”—I John 3:8.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.”—I John 3:9.
“Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not.”—1 John 3:6.
soul that sinneth, it shall die.”—Ez. 4:18. We fail to see how
anybody can read such commands, warnings and assertions, and then fly
in the face of them all and think that sin is of little consequence.
Beware! “Be sure your sin will find you out.”—Num. 32:23. One
would better trifle with chain lightning than with sin. In view
of the coming judgment, when the hearts of men will
he weighed in the balances of divine justice, when sin will be sized
up in its awful blackness~ and heinousness, let us see to it that none
of the accursed thing he found upon our souls.
and salvation are incompatible. They will not mix any more than oil
and water. Saints can not be sinners at the same time. One cannot live
in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world simultaneously. We
have read of “natural~ law in the spiritual world.” The property
of impenetrability obtains in the spiritual realm. Two bodies cannot
occupy the same space at the same time. Neither can one body be
in two places at the same time. One cannot be dwelling in the light of
God and also be in darkness. He cannot be in the service of
Christ and simultaneously in the service of sin.
shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their
sins.”—Matt. 1:21.1 Not saved in
one’s sins, but from them.
What is a sinner? Let us see. A liar is one who lies; a deceiver is
one who deceives; a murderer is one who murders; a sinner must be one
who sins. What is a Christian? A Mohammedan is a follower of Mohammed;
a Confucianist is a follower of Confucius; a Christian is a follower
of Christ. How did Christ act? He “was holy, harmless, undefiled
and separate from sinners.”—Heb. 7:26. “As He is, so are we in
this world.”—I John 4:17. Are we Christians? Are we followers of
the meek and lowly Jesus? Are we imitators of that heavenly example?
To say that one is a Christian and yet a sinner is about as ridiculous
as to say that one is a truthful liar, an honest thief, an intelligent
idiot, a healthy invalid, a living corpse, or a holy devil.
are persuaded, though, that many times, when there is dispute on these
questions, there is a greater difference in terms than in actual
the Old Testament we find sins of ignorance mentioned together with
the necessary offering for such. They were not classed with willful
transgressions, and were dealt with in another manner. In the same
sense may we speak of the same now, though the expression, “sins of
ignorance,” is not mentioned in the New Testament. We will always be
liable and subject to mistakes, blunders and infirmities. We will do
things ignorantly, which we will see afterwards, and for which we will
be sorry. Yet these mistakes and blunders
are not classed in the catalogue of sins. If they are, then everybody
is a sinner, no matter what state of grace he has reached. They are
all dead, for “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” They are not
abiding in Him, for “he that abideth in Him sinneth not.” They
should not profess to be born again, for “whosoever is born of God
doth not commit sin.” It would make the Word of God
irreconcilably contradictory. If those who claim to be Christians, and
yet sinners, mean by sin, those things done in ignorance, we can
accept their experience, but they should define themselves better. On
the other hand, if they mean known sin, voluntary, willful
transgression, then we must believe them to be misguided and deceived.
A thousand mistakes, or, to use the Old Testament expression, sins of
ignorance, are compatible with the Christian life, but not any known,
voluntary sin. The former will not break the union with Christ, but
the latter severs the connection. Perhaps some mean that they commit
known sin daily, but not voluntary sin. They have a quick temper, or
some other weakness, which gets the advantage of them so suddenly that
they are overcome before they think. They know it is wrong, but it is
not voluntary. It is not with their consent, for they much prefer not
to be overcome. They go at once to the Lord and ask pardon, but are
overcome again and again the same way. Thus, they say they are
Christians, but sin
will take up the context under consideration and see if it is a fair
description of a real Christian experience. If the portion, “there
is none righteous,” applies to the Christian, then certainly the
context applies to the Christian also. We will take them in their
is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
If, then, there is none righteous, then none of them understand or
seek after God.
are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable;
there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” We must abide by the
context; so, all Christians are gone out of the way, are unprofitable,
and none of them do good, no, not one.
“Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips." What a description of a Christian! His mouth is an open sepulcher, using deceit with his tongue, and having the poison of asps is under his lips.”
mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” And this a Christian!
feet are swift to shed blood.” A dangerous class of people, that.
All this applies to the Christian, if the first part does.
and misery are in all their ways.” All the ways of a Christian are
destruction, and their lives are filled with misery. This is
certainly a very dark picture, and not much in it to lure one on to
the way of peace have they not known.” Take the medicine, brother,
if you claim that there is none righteous. There is no peace then in
the Christian’s heart or life. He has never known such a thing.
is no fear of God before their eyes.” With a reckless, fearless,
don’t-care manner, he proceeds on the evil tenor of his way. All
this applying to the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
that professes to be a Christian, is willing to lay claim to such a
catalogue of sins as his experience? If the first statement,
“there is none righteous,” applies to him, then all the rest
apply to him also, for the subject is not changed until we come to
the close of the clause, “there is no fear of God before their
little further on it says, “For there is no difference, for all
have sinned and come short of the
glory of God.” So, we see that it is simply showing forth man’s
condition in ‘his unregenerate or sinful state.
‘back to the beginning of this description, we find these words,
“As it is written,” and then follows that very accommodative
text, with which so many have allowed the devil to morphine them.
“It is written.” Where is it written? These statements are taken
from the 14th and 53d Psalms, and the 59th chapter of Isaiah. In all
of these places the context makes it plain that the reference is to
the unregenerate people. Especially does Isaiah make this plain. He
says, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your
God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not
hear.” Then follows the place where it is written, as we see in
Romans, 3d chapter. But that this is not a necessary experience,
incapable of being overcome, the verse just preceding the one quoted
from Isaiah says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,
that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that He will not
This cuts off all escape, and leaves one without any excuse for pleading for unrighteousness. Thin catalogue of sins is arrayed against them because they have allowed sin to come in between them and God. But He declares that His hand is not too short to save nor His ear too deaf to hear.
very fact that David, Isaiah and Paul all use this language to
illustrate the sinner’s life, proves
that his heart is just the same, no matter when and where you find it.
All the way down the ages it is just the same. There never was and
never will be any improvement till it is improved by the cleansing
blood of Jesus. The world is not growing any better, only as hearts
come in contact with Him that is “mighty to save.”