For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
This is a verse that many of us who grew up in church memorized at a young age. In fact, it may be the first verse that I remember memorizing. (I was all about earning AWANA bucks to spend on store night.) But, now as I go back and re-read the passage, I can’t help but feel…honestly, a little frustrated. With this being one of the first verses I learned, I believed from a young age that I was completely worthless; even worse I spent the next 18+ years believing so. There was so much conflict going on in my head. One minute I was told that I was valued far above diamonds and rubies, and the next I was told I could never measure up in the eyes of God. What was I supposed to do? Was any of it worth it if I wasn’t going to come out good enough in the end?
Not long ago, I began to attend a college Bible study where the leaders really stress the importance of context. Let me tell you, this was a game changer for me. Suddenly so much more made sense to me. So many questions became answered. So with this new revelation of how to study the Bible, I went back to this verse and I did this incredible thing….I read the next verse, and I was amazed at what it said.
… being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…
So you mean to tell me, that this whole time I was believing that I was this horrible sinner when really scripture says that I have been freely justified?? This knowledge opened up my world!! I suddenly didn’t feel guilty, I didn’t feel like a burden, and I most definitely didn’t feel worthless. No, instead I felt confident that I could do anything knowing that I had the power and forgiveness of God backing me up.
Now, I don’t mean “I feel like I can do anything” as in like, heroin or meth; no, I mean that I can live my life freely and confidently knowing that the desires of my heart come from the Lord (Psalm 37:4, Proverbs 16) and even if I do mess up, I can still move forward.
We are not sinners, because we do not have to sin. Let me say that a little louder for the people in the back. We are not sinners, because we do not have to sin. We may choose to sin, but we are not bound or obligated to it. We have been justified at no cost because Jesus redeemed us on the cross. Romans 3:23-24 literally tells us that we will make mistakes, but we are freely justified. What’s even cooler, is what the rest of the passage says:
…whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Our righteousness has nothing to do with us. God chose to overlook previously committed sins so that we may live our lives guilt free in order to do the desires of our hearts that come from Him. It’s about Jesus. He is the justifier, and a good justifier so that when we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, we are now justified, regardless of anything else. (Romans 10:9)
I have lived most of my life believing that I was a sinner, and that I shouldn’t follow my own desires, and that I wasn’t good enough. While I was never verbally told this, I truly believed that I was a burden to Jesus to have to forgive me.
Let me tell you, I have never been more excited to say that I was wrong! I know now that whether I’m sitting in a church pew or if I was walking out of prison that I have been freely justified through Jesus Christ Himself and I can follow my dreams with the security and the elation that my dreams are God’s own plan for me. That is really, really cool.
So if you are like me, and you feel like you are a worthless sinner, or if you aren’t a believer and feel like you’re a worthless person, please understand that you are not. If you have faith in Jesus, you have been freely justified. If you have not, God’s offer still stands for you. You were made for more, feel the freedom of justification and live the life you never thought you deserved.