There is none righteous, not even one.
A college professor once constructed an elaborate planetary model of our solar system, depicting the sun and the other planets and their relative distance between one another. A student walked in and, eyeing the model, asked, “Prof, who made this?” “No one,” the professor answered. The student laughed and said, “Come on, Prof. Who constructed this elaborate model?” The professor repeated, “No one.” The student could not hide his irritation with his teacher’s unresponsiveness. Then the professor added, “If you can go out of this class, look around at nature, and believe this all just happened, then you should have no problem believing that this intricate piece of work could happen without a creator.”
The fact is, the atheist–the person who has rejected God–has rejected Him not because of a lack of evidence that God exists but because of a lack of desire to know and to obey that God. And that is why the Word of God says the atheist is without excuse and deserving of God’s judgment. That is the theme of the passage we will look at this week in our study of the book of Romans.
In Romans 1, we will discover what it is that every atheist knows. The book of Romans is about how to have a right standing with God. Paul said in this letter that a right standing with God–God’s righteousness–is available to everyone who comes to God through faith in Jesus Christ.
The first major section of the book of Romans talks about the problem of righteousness. What is the problem of righteousness? Simply put, the problem of righteousness is that we do not have any of it. Paul said we are all guilty before God. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But to make his case, just as a lawyer makes his case to the jury, Paul took three representative groups of human beings and showed that they are guilty in order to prove that in fact all humanity is guilty before God. He talked about the Gentile who is a good moral person. “Surely this person is okay with God,” we think. No, Paul said. He is guilty. Paul also talked about the Jewish person who keeps the Old Testament Law. “Surely the Jew is in a right standing with God,” we think. “He is one of God’s own people.” No, Paul said. He is guilty too.
But Paul began this section by looking at the one person we all have a hard time believing would be condemned by God, and that is the person who has never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Surely that person gets a pass. Surely that person is in a right standing with God,” we think. Guilty, said Paul. Even the person who has never heard the gospel stands condemned before God. Paul wrote in Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What Every Atheist Knows” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.