Far Short of the Glory of God
My son’s first kindergarten math lessons were on sorting and not “divided bys”, to his dismay. However, ranking and sorting is an elementary skill we apply in everyday life. We might privately ascribe varying degrees of importance to humans and end up showing partiality to one over another, which is sinful. Before I was saved, I ranked other sinners as far worse than myself. The reality is that the race of man is wholly wretched in their sinful state, and if we lack appreciation for other human beings, it is because we have forgotten what we were before God. As we examine this, it should help us appreciate the value of the sacrifice of the cross.
For there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. - Rom 3:22b-23
If you frequent gospel meetings, you may hear this verse repeatedly. It is a point of emphasis to make the listener understand that there are not classes of sinners. Make no mistake – there will be varying degrees of punishment for unbelievers (i.e. Matt 11:22, 24) and different rewards for believers (i.e. 2 Cor 5:10), but all stand equally guilty before God.
How far short of the glory of God were we in our sins? If you are like me, too often you revert to your old self-inflated opinion of your personal merits. Hearing Romans 3:23 repeated may cause you to sit back and think you’ve heard this all before.
Yet, imagine a scale plotting famous individuals according to our perception of their righteousness. For the low end of the scale, Adolph Hitler or Judas might secure a spot. For the righteous end of the scale, Paul the Apostle may come to mind – even when thinking of his own sin, by inspiration he could write of himself, “touching righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Phil 3:6b). Next, where would you put yourself? Pause for a moment. Lastly, where on this scale would you plot the Lord Jesus Christ? The reality is that if a sheet of paper were the length of the expanse of the universe, there still would not be a place to accurately plot a point on the same graph. If we did try to plot this, the dots representing each human would be indistinguishable from one another – and Christ would still be off the chart. He is Jesus Christ the righteous, lover of righteousness.
Just as the great gulf is fixed between hell and heaven, so there exists a great gulf between our own righteousness and God’s. How we needed righteousness that wasn’t ours! It is infinitely gracious that when we received Christ as Saviour, God would reckon to us the righteousness of His own character. The great grace that moved to save Paul is the same grace that effectively saves us (1 TImothy 1:16). You and I who believe are a true trophy of His grace, not merely those saved from lives of sin. God has done this that we should be displays of grace for the present and for eternity. The only thing that could save you, I, Paul and the greatest of sinners would be the greatest sacrifice which will ever and always propitiate God.