Summary: Our deadly fall into sin-with all its consequences, is counteracted by the sacrifice of Christ which brought forgiveness.
Grace And Forgiveness
I. God’s Forgiveness of Sin Through Christ
A. The Universality of Sin (v. 23)
1. Paul’s idea about sin is made quite plain in this verse: all have sinned.
2. It is the human tendency not only to excuse our sin but also to compare and classify it.
3. We are quite content to place the blame on someone or something for our sin. We have invented or rather displayed many defense mechanisms to excuse our behavior.
4. In our mind, murder is a greater sin than hatred and adultery is much worse than gossip.
5. Admittedly, the temporal consequences of some sins are greater than others, but God does not measure sin in degrees but rather in what it is-a transgression against his holy nature, an offense and a missing of his mark.
6. The consequences of David’s sin with Bathsheba ran deeper than Abraham’s when he lied about his wife being his sister. Nevertheless, apart from God’s forgiveness, either sin-even the sin of gossip, would be all it took to consign them both to hell.
7. Additionally, breaking one of God’s laws makes us guilty of breaking them all. (James 2:10)
8. The fact that we sin-whether we label it “little” or “big” makes us a sinner.
9. Committing only “little” sins does not make us worthy of eternal life at the expense of someone who is a dastardly sinner.
10. All sin separates us from God and must be forgiven to avoid its ultimate consequences-eternal separation from him.
B. What is the origination of our sin?
1. If we are all sinners, it behooves us to investigate why and how?
2. Consider the following statements: “I am a sinner because I sin,” or “I sin because I am a sinner.”
3. The first leaves open the possibility a person could live without sinning. If this is so, it is possible not to need the sacrifice of Christ.
4. The second statement proposes the reality that all will sin and have no choice in the matter (but at the same time are not robots). No one will ever enter heaven on their own merit. Our nature is infected.
5. We are not born good and then corrupted by our environment. If this was so, it would again leave open the possibility of one somehow living a life free of sin-even though those who propose this scenario would readily admit it would never happen.
6. It is hard for us to look at a newborn baby or consider a small child and think they have a sinful nature, yet they do, and time will bear this out.
7. We are born “bad” and our propensity toward sin will become evident as we move toward that age when we can make choices between right and wrong.
8. Theories concerning how the sin nature is transferred will be reserved for our discussion in chapter five when Paul deals with the sin of Adam being transferred to his descendants.
9. Suffice it to say at this point that the Bible is clear all are sinners and as such are responsible to God and dependant on him to rectify our horrible condition.
C. Our Sin Causes Us To Miss God’s Glorious Standard
1. The “glory of God” is mentioned many times in God’s Word, but it may be somewhat slippery to define.
2. To bring glory to God is to make sure the spotlight is put on him through our actions, words and attitudes. We might compare it to a spotlight being shown on a singer or actor.
3. His glorious standard is his moral standard for us, which is perfection. Sin leads to missing God’s best for us.
4. Sin keeps us from reaching the existence God designed for us.
5. Sin will always take us away from God and should be considered serious for the believer. Jesus tells us to hunger and thirst for righteousness not sin. (Matthew 5:6)
6. The tense is present in the Greek and infers all people are continuing to fall short of God’s standard. We are not evolving in our behavior, getting closer to what God requires, but rather are continuing in the pattern that has been ours from the beginning.
D. The Work of Christ Enables Us to Reach God’s Standard (v. 24)
1. This verse and the next (v. 25) are vital in understanding what happened on the cross and what happens when the work there is applied to our life.
2. Paul says God in his kindness declares us not guilty.
3. The question arises as to how God can declare a guilty sinner not guilty without violating his holy nature?
4. Paul does not leave us in doubt but tells us in the remainder of the verse-through Christ who took our sins.