The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
It seems kind of harsh when you first read these words. How can everyone fall short? Surely someone out there who “seeks God.” Surely we’ve met “good” people in our lives. Most of us consider ourselves “good” (relatively speaking). But relative to what?
God places a higher standard on what pleases Him. It isn’t just “relatively good” that he’s looking for. He’s looking for perfection. The way I look at it is this. God is perfect. His Kingdom in Heaven is perfect. The only way it remains perfect is if he doesn’t let anyone in that is imperfect.
So with such a high standard, what hope does anyone have of pleasing God? What’s the point? I think this is perhaps a reason why some people reject religion, especially when it focuses on works. Some believe that they can earn salvation on their own; which leaves them wondering if they’ve ever done enough. This verse and Romans 3:23 (“for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God”) point out that nobody has done enough to earn their salvation.
This information would be tragic if it weren’t for Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus did live a sinless life and offered himself up as a sacrifice for all of our sins.
So as it turns out, God’s higher (impossible) standard of perfection is actually very freeing. We don’t have to earn our get-into-heaven card, and we couldn’t if we tried. But God’s own Son offers us free admittance on His merit, not ours.
So what’s the point in good works and being good? Shouldn’t we go right on sinning? Well, that’s a whole other post for another day, but feel free to turn to Romans to find questions like that answered repeatedly with the phrase “may it never be!”