We have a practice of quoting God’s promises during our time of need and in this process quote a few hearsay verses to fulfill our heart’s desires. Using such verses without understanding their context, jeopardizes the meaning intended to be conveyed by its author. If this practice is repeated in due course of time, it might end up distorting the little faith into unanswered doubts.
Today we will try to understand what Romans 3:23-24 actually means.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.Romans 3:23-24
Bible tells us the truth that the sin of mankind, was forgiven once for all when Jesus died on the cross as an atonement. This was a unique plan of God to save the perishing souls, which is beyond mankind’s understanding.
While mankind still struggles to understand this truth, satan persuades common people to remain in their sins by quoting only verse 23 and at the same time, misguides the religious people to misuse their freedom by quoting verse 24 alone.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,Romans 3:23
If we look at this verse in isolation, it gives a person some consolation that everyone is a sinner and I am not alone. However, sometime this leads to people confessing their inability to overcome sin and end up accepting their condition.
Their acceptance demotivates those who are attempting to come out of sin by sending a wrong message that no one is perfect, including God’s chosen people. The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector supplements their wrong notion.
Instead of making God as their role model, people make spiritual leaders as their icons. These spiritual leaders, while telling their followers about their victory over evil, hide their past mistakes that led them towards God. Lack of transparency in the lives of these spiritual leaders make their followers regard them as supernatural beings and in turn they become a stumbling block for them, when they pass through struggles.
Paul was convincing his audience not to rely on laws and deeds but to trust God and His grace. He emphasized that the effort to fulfill the law did not spare Jews from sinning and they too were as sinners just like his audience, Gentiles.
The Jews, because of their outward appearance, were esteemed as spiritual icons by their Gentile counterparts. In fact, Paul was encouraging people to come under the grace and righteousness of Jesus Christ, keeping aside their deeds, underlining the fact that even the spiritual leaders are equal in the sight of God. Paul was telling people that the righteousness of Jesus Christ was available to all mankind only through faith, be it Jews or Gentiles.
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.Romans 3:24
People take the above verse as a blanket license to do anything they want. With their freedom, they lay down rules and regulations and discourage others from coming to Jesus Christ by ranking themselves higher than anyone else.
The whole concept of becoming righteous through Christ’s righteousness is reversed, when they promote self-righteousness. They formulate many schemes, for the growth of newcomers but never allow them to grow. Unknowingly, they emulate the role of the Pharisee portrayed in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.Romans 3:25-26
He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
The present freedom is a provision of grace that has to be received by faith. This freedom is available exclusively, when people realize the gravity of their situation when they were slaves to sin, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead them in penitence and self examination. Self-righteousness does not allow people to cherish this freedom in fullness.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.1 John 1:8-10
Instead of assuming others as sinners, we should accept that we are grave sinners. We should not allow our sinful nature to drive us away from God but should acknowledge it and come near God.
This does not mean that we want to remain as sinners forever but is a bold step towards telling the world that we have overcome the nature of sin in us, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In other words, it is a declaration made by us to disown our sinful nature and to own Christ’s holiness.
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!Romans 5:17
It is interesting to note that we sin without attending training programmes, workshops and theoretical studies. It is not just because that Adam sinned, it is because of our own desire we sin. We attend so many deliverance meetings, training programmes, workshops and regular church services, yet we fail to attain holiness, because we do not desire holiness.
God’s provision of grace and the gift of righteousness through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, will make us holy, only if we desire it with all our heart. If we desire holiness, Jesus Christ is faithful to present us before His Father’s glorious presence.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.Jude 1:24-25