Romans 3:23-24 NLT
“23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
Paul has made it clear thus far in his letter that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles when it comes to final judgment – all have sinned. If the law measures the distance between God and His creatures, then human righteousness is our attempt to bridge that distance by our own efforts. Paul is correct – we all fall short. But what is this glorious standard that we do not reach on our own? The word glory (doxes), from which we derive the word doxology, refers to the wonderful and awe-inspiring but indescribable presence of God Himself. Sin keeps us from the presence of God.
Sinning confirms our status as sinners, and sin cuts us off from our holy God. Furthermore, sin leads to death (because it disqualifies us from living with God), regardless of how great or small each sin may seem. Sins are deadly, but sinners can be forgiven. There are no distinctions: we have all sinned; we all need a Savior; Jesus Christ is the Savior; through faith we can receive His salvation.
Just as there is no distinction in our fallenness, Paul writes, so there is no distinction in the source of our justification. God justifies us; He declares us not guilty for our sins. When a judge in a court of law declares the defendant “not guilty,” all the charges are removed from the person’s record. Legally, it is as if the person had never been accused. When God forgives our sins, our record is wiped clean. From His perspective, it is as though we had never sinned. We do not have to anxiously work while hoping that in the end we will have been good enough to meet God’s approval. Instead, those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross are freed – Christ Jesus has taken away our sins. Our righteousness before God depends entirely on Him and can only be accepted as a gift from Him. God in His gracious kindness assures us of our acceptance and then calls us to serve Him as best we can out of pure love for Him.
In the Holy Spirit’s presence, we accept God’s gift of forgiveness.
“Father God, in the name of Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, through Your death and resurrection You’ve washed our souls, removed the stain of sin, and brought indescribable joy to our hearts! Thank you! Amen!”
Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you Lord.