Rom 3:13-18 “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Paul has concluded that we are all under sin (v. 9). Here he continues to describe what that looks like. Remember, this is not a description of “them” but rather a description of “us.” Paul has pulled these words from the scripture of the Psalms.
The visual here is not a pretty one. An open tomb could be one that has exposed the rotting contents within. It could be open and waiting for an occupant. Either way, it is something that we should know to avoid but we do not always do so.
Surely, an unbridled tongue is a great evil. By it, the heart of a man is exposed. Every intention of the thoughts of the sinner’s heart is only evil (Genesis 6:5). With their words, they seek to swallow up and bury the truth of God and the faith of the saints.
As a sinner, man is constantly using deceit. He speaks poison, and that poison is often hidden in words that might at first seem kind and genuine. As the venom of a snake, his words end up being full of pain and anguish. He does not just have cursing and bitterness in his mouth: his mouth is full (no room for anything else) of it.
Man, without the intervention of God, loves destruction. He is quick to seek to utterly destroy. Complete ruin and misery are in the ways of man. Left to ourselves, this way seems right to us even though it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).
With so much destruction, death, and ugliness of spirit, it is not surprising that they have not known the way of peace. Now we see the reason for all of this wicked behavior. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Until God comes and reveals our sinful nature to us, we are blind to our own wretchedness. Paul has painted a very vivid picture of what we are like without God. There is no redeeming quality in us. We have absolutely nothing that we can bring before God that would cause Him to love us and save us.
We are so utterly depraved that we do not see a problem with our condition. We do not want to be better. We will never seek after righteousness or mourn for our sins on our own. It is not in our carnal nature to seek after God.
Thankfully, God has not left us in this condition. He loves us in spite of our sin because we are covered in the imputed righteousness of His Son. Jesus took the imputation of our sins upon Himself. He endured the righteous judgement of God in the condemnation of sin.
May we, like Paul, realize that God forbids that we continue in sin as though that were required for grace to abound!