Posted November 12, 2012
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
If you had a cancerous tumor in your brain, how would you feel if your doctor came in and told you it was only a headache and some Advil should do the job? Like any good doctor would, this verse starts with an honest diagnosis of humanity's problem: all have sinned. This word is quite unpopular in our day and age. Words like "mistakes" seem to soften the blow a little, distancing the sin a little and helping feel us better about ourselves. However, God will not mince his words for he knows until the true problem is addressed, there is no hope for the human soul. Sin encompasses not only the things we do but also the reasons we do them.
He continues. Not only have we sinned, but we "fall short of the glory of God" (a continuing present tense). Our sin has separated us from God! Bishop Handley Moule stated, "The harlot, the liar, the murderer, are short of it [sc. God's glory]; but so are you. Perhaps they are at the bottom of a mine, and you on the crest of an Alp; but you are as little able to touch the stars as they." God made us in his image to put himself on display, but through sin we've rejected that calling and attempted to put ourselves & lesser things on display, corrupting the essential design of our souls! John Stott explains, "God's doxa ('glory') could mean his approval or praise, which all have forfeited, but probably refers to his image or glory in which all were made but which all fail to live up to." So if our diagnosis is sin & falling short of God's glory, what's our hope?
The word "justified" was a legal term used in the courts of law. While "pardon" is a negative, dealing with the removal of guilt, "justification" is a positive, namely giving someone a righteous status. Compare it to a credit card debt: someone could pay off your debt, but even after the pay off, your account would still be at zero. Justification is someone paying off your debt and proceeding to add a credit to your account! Sir Marcus Loane wrote, "The voice that spells forgiveness will say: 'You may go; you have been let off the penalty which your sin deserves.' But the verdict which means acceptance [justification] will say: 'You may come; you are welcome to all my love and my presence.'" What an amazing gift! If only the powerful truth of justification by God's grace (unmerited, unearned favor) would sink into our hearts more... God "righteoused" the unrighteous, and graced the ungraceful!
The verse doesn't stop there. We're taught that this happened "through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus". What are the grounds of our justification? The cross of Jesus Christ. While "justification" was a word used in the law court, "redemption" was a commercial word used when a ransom was paid to set slaves free. In our case, as we saw at the beginning, we were slaves to sin, dead in our transgressions, and couldn't break free! Christ saw our plight, shed his blood, giving his life as a ransom for many. All who turn in faith to Christ, trusting in His work on their behalf, are in turn justified by his grace through the redemption found in Him! Note the unfolding progression: Enslaved sinners who have fallen and are currently falling short of the glory of God become justified saints, credited with Christ's righteousness, and ransomed slaves through the cross, belonging to Jesus now! For more on these verses, check out http://fighterverses.com/blog-post/by-his-grace-as-a-gift/.
This week's song was written by Brad Kilman,a worship leader & songwriter out of Edmond, Oklahoma who's written songs like "We Are Hungry" and "Tower". Check out his last record "Mouths Like Trumpets" here (http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mouths-like-trumpets/id327140368) and "Clouds Are Forming" here (http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/clouds-are-forming/id117928222). Chris Clark produced the song & his wife Emery sings backing vocals on it.