There is Not a Just Man on Earth: So Now What?

“For there is not a just man upon earth,
that doeth good, and sinneth not.”

I remember memorizing this verse in fourth grade. It’s a good verse to memorize, has a way of humbling a guy.

As much as I am for memorizing verses, one problem I see now in my “old age,” looking back at a youth spent being made to memorize verses, is that most of these verses are memorized completely out of context.

Now, just because I learned Romans 6:23 and Romans 3:23 out of context doesn’t mean the verses don’t mean what they say. They do, I just wish I had some context.

Perhaps a new term I will invent instead of memorizing verses is “memorizing context.” I will ban all learning of verses without context. If the context is a chapter long, well, memorize the chapter then!

Again, it’s not that a single verse can’t necessarily be understood by itself or used by itself, but we miss so much when we blow the context. Take the verse that began this post from Ecclesiastes.

OK, great, everyone sins. Now what? What was his point in bringing that up? The point I always heard is this proves how much people need the Gospel because everyone sins.

That point is valid, but it wasn’t the point in Ecclesiastes! Here is the context of the verse in Ecclesiastes. Allow the context to give you an application. Go ahead, click here and read it.

Seems to me the context is like this:

Everyone sins, so don’t get too high and mighty about how righteous you are.
Everyone sins, but don’t go crazy into ridiculous amounts of it.
Everyone sins, so don’t listen to everything people say about you.

I wonder how comes when I was in fourth grade memorizing “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” no one taught me the context?!

The Bible has a lot of editors; very few followers.

3 thoughts on “There is Not a Just Man on Earth: So Now What?”

  1. That is one reason why Luther’s Small Catechism irritated me so much—its use of “proof texts”, isolated verses that were memorized without regard to the context. It’s good to hear someone say this!!!

  2. One of the more irritating aspects of proof texting is that often the context directly refutes the point of the proof texter! The oft repeated Christianeze quote says “A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.”

    Don’t proof text while driving!

  3. “One of the more irritating aspects of proof texting is that often the context directly refutes the point of the proof texter! ”

    Certainly the case with every proof-text from the OT that is cited in favor of predestination in Romans 9.

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