It is written:
“As it is written: “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; 11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD. 12 THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE.” 13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN TOMB; WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY HAVE PRACTICED DECEIT”; “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS.” 15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD; 16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR WAYS; 17 AND THE WAY OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Romans 3:10-19)
Our Calvinist friends and neighbors often use this passage from Romans to teach that infants and small children are brought forth into the world guilty of Adam’s sin, and totally depraved. Is that what this passage is teaching?
First, the “world” (Romans 3:19) under discussion is a reference to Jewish and Gentile nations. Throughout Romans, Paul had made the point that humans from every nation had rejected God and His revelation to mankind (Romans 1:18-20). This included not only the Gentiles (non-Jews), but the nation of Israel as well (Romans 2:1-3). In fact, the Jewish people were very guilty because they not only had God’s revelation through nature (Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-15), but His special revelation in Scripture as well (Romans 3:1-2)! Thus, in Romans 3:10-19, Paul is referencing the fact that all mankind (all nations) are guilty before God.
Second, the very language of the passage obviously excludes infants and small children. What infant or small child can possibly: understand and seek after God (Romans 3:11); have a throat like an open tomb (Romans 3:13); practice deceit with their tongues (Romans 3:13); have poison like asps under their lips (Romans 3:13); have mouths full of cursing and bitterness (Romans 3:14); have feet that are swift to shed blood (Romans 3:15); have destruction and misery as their ways (Romans 3:16); have the ability to follow and depart from the way of peace (Romans 3:17); have no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:18); and know the Word of God so that their mouths may be stopped (Romans 3:19)?
Obviously, Paul is not talking about infants and small children!
Third, the text itself makes it clear that Paul is not teaching total depravity. Please notice verse 12:
Romans 3:12-THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE.”
If people are born totally depraved and wicked, then how can they “turn aside?” Aren’t they already turned away from the truth of God just by being born?
If people are wicked little sinners at birth, then how can they “become unprofitable?”
Didn’t Paul know that children are unprofitable from the moment that they are conceived?
How can they “become” what they already are?”
Friends, the doctrine of total depravity is not in the Bible. People are not born as wicked little sinners; instead, they are born innocent and free from sin (as we will see more clearly in our future studies).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.