“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23
Until a few days ago, I’m not sure I ever acknowledged that verse 23 was actually the middle of a sentence. For my whole life, that verse was used in the salvation story to show that we are sinners and that we could never ever reach God on our own. What I’ve been taught is true, yes, but let me show you the rest of the sentence.
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24
I went back just a little further to give some context. The righteousness that God provided to all through Jesus knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are a sinner, then Jesus’ righteousness can be yours if you believe. And surprise! We are all sinners! This redemption is available to ALL, because we are all fallen short and in need of it.
There is so much hope packed into these verses. Justified freely, no difference, all who believe…Do you realize what it took for us to be justified? Being a sinner, though commonplace, is not something to take lightly. It is the darkest and dirtiest part of our hearts. It is the root of all the bad that we are seeing in the world right now. But it isn’t limited to the most evil of acts either. Even when a child chooses to disobey his mother, that is sin. It is the wrong we do, regardless of the degree. And sin is the opposite of God. He cannot abide sin in his presence because it is everything that he is not. He demands righteousness and pureness and holiness from those who desire to be with him. If not, there is punishment. Our God is just.
That’s where it gets tricky. Sin creates a debt and it must be paid. We deserve to be punished and experience God’s great wrath because of our sin. But God loves us and wanted us to be able to be with him, to be close to him. That’s why he sent his son to earth. Jesus, the wonderful God-man, came to earth as a baby, grew in wisdom and stature and lived life sinlessly. Only God could be truly perfect. Only man can pay the debt. You see why Jesus became a man.
I’m not sure why God loves us. He sent his son to pay the price for our sin, to experience the punishment and wrath that we deserved and he didn’t. That was the plan from the beginning, after all. And so, because Jesus died in our place, we can be free. We don’t have to live a life being a slave to sin. We don’t have to face this world alone. We have a greater purpose that goes beyond this life right now. We are more. We are alive. If we believe.
I know that I need Jesus. Sometimes I forget that. When I’m going through life with ease, I forget my need for a savior. I lose sight of the cross and it’s impact in my day to day life becomes less. This post is more a reminder for me than it is for you. My sin is ugly, but I have been justified freely and completely and I am His. The grace I receive everyday is a gift. I choose to be thankful. I choose to remember the cross today.