alien righteousness

No Escape Except as God’s Mercy Brings Deliverance

“I will not relate in detail what David and all the prophets say about the vanity of man. We have, however, this fine saying in the Psalms: ‘If man were weighed against vanity, he would be found a vainer than vanity itself’ (Psa. 62:9). This is a serious censure of man’s mind, since all the thoughts which come from it are mocked as stupid, frivolous, demented and perverse. No less a censure is pronounced upon the heart, when it is described as ‘deceitful and wilful above all else’ (Jer. 17:9). But because I am to be brief, I will make do with one passage which like a bright mirror will help us see the full image of our nature. For when the apostle seeks to humble mankind’s arrogance, this is what he testifies: ‘There is no one righteous, no one who truly understands or who searches after God. All have fallen away, all are worthless, there is none who does good, not one. Their throat is like an open grace, their tongues are will of guile. Under their lips is the poison of asps;  their mouth is full of slander and bitterness. There is no fear of God before their eyes’ (Rom. 3:10-18).

With these harsh words he thunders against not some men only, but the whole of Adam’s race. Nor does he rebuke the corrupt manners of a single era, but blames the age-old corruption of nature. His purpose here is not merely to reprimand men so that they will reform themselves, but rather to teach them that they are all, from the highest to the lowest, so mired in calamity that there is no escape except as God’s mercy brings deliverance.”

(2014) [1541]. Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1541 French edition. Translated by Robert White Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 66-67.

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