By Scott Armstrong
“For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 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 (Romans 3:22b-26 NKJV).”
(Read Romans 3:22-31)
The verses we just read give us some pretty bad news. We’ve all sinned. Not one of us is good enough for God. As The Message says, “We’re all in the same sinking boat,” and that means all of us. As one country preacher puts it, “There just ain’t no diff’rence.”
Wait a second. No difference? That means the most awful murderer and the kindest, most generous person to ever live share the same destiny if it’s up to us and our own righteousness.
Let’s pretend there is a ladder stretching from humanity on Earth to God in the heavens. If we piled up all the bad and good things we ever did where would the criminal be? The bottom rung, maybe? Where would Mother Teresa or Billy Graham be—people who have served Christ faithfully and changed the world through their ministries? Let’s put them on rung four or five. And you and I are somewhere in between. With just a few hundred more good works we can maybe reach God, right?
There’s only one problem. The ladder has a million rungs. If it’s up to us to reach God by our own righteousness, we’re all hopeless. Even though in our eyes there may be a difference between us and others, in God’s eyes, we’re all at the bottom of the ladder. There just ain’t no diff’rence.
But the bad news is followed by really good news. It’s not up to us. It’s up to God. Through his grace He can change our lives and we can spend eternity with Him. The Message translates verses 23-24 this way, “Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners…and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity…He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He always wanted us to be. And He did it by means of Jesus Christ.”
So what? How does this affect the way we live? Well, we live overwhelmed at His grace, constantly thanking Him for saving us. And we also live humbly. If we’re all sinners in need of a Savior, there is no room for bragging or thinking we’re better than anyone else (v. 27). God makes the difference. Do you need more thankfulness or, perhaps, humility in your life? Is there someone in your life who needs to hear the good news that God makes all the difference? How can you show Christ to them today?