They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.
Paul had quoted three general characteristics of mankind that prove that all are “under sin”. There is not a single righteous person, there is none who understands and no-one who seeks God. Today’s verse reiterates the end of this quotation from the psalms. Every individual has abandoned the pathway that God has provided for him. We have all turned our back upon God. And on our own self-willed pathway we have become useless for God. This is true when we take the whole of mankind together. It is like adding nothing but noughts: the result remains nought – worthless and useless for God.
Because man’s motives and ways are wrong, his works cannot be good. God cannot designate as good what springs from false motives. Someone who “does good” can only be someone who pleases God in absolutely everything and represents His interests exclusively. But man does the very opposite by nature. He pursues his own interests without consulting God.
“There is … not one.” This phrase occurs in verse 10, too: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” God does not wish to degrade us. He makes our position clear, so that we do not deceive ourselves, but reflect on it and open our hearts for his message of salvation. Just as a doctor has a remedy ready for a serious illness, but first needs to establish the shattering diagnosis, so God, too, wants us to accept His diagnosis of our condition, so that we can receive the good news of Jesus Christ.
Image: By John Singleton Copley – abcgallery.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11222497