Is Anyone Righteous/blameless, or Have All Sinned?

Are Romans 3:9-10, Romans 3:23, Psalms 14:3, Job 1:1, Genesis 7:1, Luke 1:5-6 contradictory whether anyone has sinned? Learn the solution.
Bible "contradictions"
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Quick answer

People who were described as "righteous" or "blameless" in the Bible, such as Job, Noah, Zacharias, and Elizabeth, were still sinners who needed to be saved by Jesus' atoning work. They were believers who trusted in the coming messiah for their salvation, and who were faithful in obeying God's commandments.

The argument

Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether any human is righteous, or whether all humans have sinned. Here are the relevant passages:

All have sinned

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Romans 3:10 - None is righteous, no, not one
Psalm 14:3 - They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

Some are righteous or blameless

Job 1:1 - There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.
Genesis 7:1 - Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.
Luke 1:6 - And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.

The answer

There is no contradiction between the two sets of passages because they are referring to two different concepts.

Romans 3:9-10, Romans 3:23, and Psalm 14:3 are referring to the fact that every human is guilty of sin and therefore in need of a savior, whereas Job 1:1, Genesis 7:1, and Luke 1:5-6 are referring to the current state of Job, Noah, Zacharias, and Elizabeth. The second set of verses do not say that these people never sinned or that they do not need a savior.

So, Job, Noah, Zacharias, and Elizabeth were still people who were guilty of sin and in need of a savior. They were believers who trusted in the coming messiah (Jesus) for their salvation, and who were walking faithfully in obedience to God's commands. Because of their faith and the kind of life they were living currently, God viewed them as being righteous and blameless.

Conclusion

There is absolutely no contradiction between these two sets of verses. The first set of verses talk about nobody being righteous in terms of being able to save themselves, and the second set of verses talk about some believers who are viewed as righteous by God because of their faith and obedience.

"I don't buy that explanation"

Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:

I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.

Fact vs Opinion

The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.

However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.

When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.

Additional Resources

To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.

Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.

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