“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Our pastor used a powerful visual this week at church — he placed three slides on the screens in succession. On each slide his picture was placed next to the image of a notorious felon — Adolf Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer and the Olympic doctor Larry Nassar . On each slide were written the words “There Is No Difference.”.
I thought this was such a powerful image, and I had already been thinking about the verses in Romans that I had read recently where God says that ALL have sinned and fall short. No distinction in our sin. Sin is sin. He didn’t say that some fall shorter than others, or only those that fall short and get found out are condemned; He said all have sinned.
Some of us sin very publicly, such as the men listed above. They are condemned publicly and their lives are forever changed because of their decisions, and they must publicly face the consequences of those sins.
Then, there are those of us that only sin “little sins” and do so in private — lust, lies, overindulgence, envy, idolatry (whether intentional or not), disrespect, mental infidelity, profanity, coarseness of speech. Here are some verses that outline it pretty clearly:
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them”. James 4:17
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” Ephesians 5:3-6
One of our faults is to think that we are better than others because we havent done any of the big no-nos. “I may lie occasionally, but hey, I don’t sleep around on my husband and I haven’t murdered anyone, so I’m better than her or him!” But in God’s eyes, all sin is sin.
But the good news is that, just as the condemnation is all inclusive, so is the redemption. If you get an invitation that says all are invited, that means no one is excluded! The invite doesn’t say, “All are invited, unless you bring terrible side dishes, then please stay home” or “All are invited unless you have lame party conversation…or haven’t showered today… or are awkward around strangers”. Now, if people CHOOSE not to come, that’s their choice. We have all been given the greatest invitation ever — to have every single sin we have committed wiped clean, free of charge to us, because Jesus paid our fines for us and has made us clean and blameless in the eyes of our Father. I would say that is the invitation and gift of a lifetime!
When you say “Christian” or “Bible”, or “God”, so many times people are turned off of Christianity and don’t want to know any more because of other people they know or experiences that they’ve had. That’s fine. Those were humans that they were interacting with – sinners just like them. The only difference is that they have accepted the invitation already – that doesn’t make them magically do everything right, it just means they are going to the party and have been made right with God. But the even better news is that a personal relationship with God doesn’t involve those other people (yes, He desires us to be in community, but when it comes to your personal relationship, that’s just you and Him). Don’t just ignore the best invitation of your life based on people that may have soured your view of God.
I’ve been recently convicted of ways that I sin, that in my mind weren’t a big deal, and have had to ask forgiveness of God and my husband and others – I have been a Christian since I was 9 years old and I still royally mess up. No one gets it right, that’s what is so wonderful about grace, God’s unmerited favor. I have the word “grace” tattooed on my ankle — that is the single most important word in my life and I never wanted to forget that it is by grace alone that I am able to be with my Father.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
All means all – that means you and me, and everyone in between…we all mess up, and we all can be equally right with God through His grace.