Fallen Short

“I’m a good person who tries to do the right thing.  No one’s perfect! I’m not a murderer. I’m not as bad as that guy.  I go to church, read the Bible, and say my prayers.”  

Do any of these statements sound familiar?  The premise of each claim points to questions about goodness and moral equivalency.  Unfortunately, they’re based on a subjective standard. In Romans 3:23, Paul declares something that annihilates this argument:  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NASB).
 
First, let’s stipulate that it’s unnecessary to unpack or clarify what “all” means.  Let’s not play wordsmith, here. “All” means “all.”
 
What’s at the heart of Romans 3:23 are two phrases:  “sinned” and “glory of God.”
 
In this verse, the Greek verb for sinned is hamartanō which means to “miss the mark (and so not share in the prize)1  It speaks of an archer whose goal is to aim and fire at a the multi-ringed target with the intent of hitting the smallest area in the middle.  Although arrows may hit the area surrounding the center, you’ve missed the mark if you don’t it hit the innermost circle. You may come up with various excuses for not achieving the goal such as wind conditions, faulty arrows, impaired vision, ignorance of the rules, etc but the fact remains:  you missed the mark!
 
The second part of the verse also addresses the nature of sin because it doesn’t come close to “glory of God.”  In this context, glory or dŏxa, relates to “dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship.”  Sin “falls short of the glory of God” because genuine dignity, honor, praise, and worship of God occurs when we recognize who He is and who we are based on the objective standards of His holiness, justice, and mercy.  He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent but we aren’t. He is the Creator but we are the created. He is sinless but we “all have sinned.” This sin, this spiritual depravity, is a gulf separating God and us that can only be bridged through our salvation made possible through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  
 
So how close are we to God regardless of the degree of our sin?  How “short” is “short?” By how much has sin caused us to miss the mark? Our goodness and righteousness don’t come close to God’s standards (Isaiah 64:6 and Romans 3:9-20). The title of the 1976 Broadway musical Your Arms Too Short to Box with God truly captures our fallen state.  
 
Continuing the metaphor of the archer who misses the target, we can’t blame our upbringing, economic status, broken relationships, or experiences for our spiritual depravity through sin.   
 
So I ask today, are you tired of missing God’s mark of holiness?  Are you frustrated and exhausted by the endless cycle of works-based righteousness?  Are you disappointed by the facades of moral equivalency? I beg you to hit the mark by choosing Christ!
 
Strong, James. A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible 2009 : 10. Print.
2 Strong, James. A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible 2009 : 24. Print.

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