Summary: Message deals with the struggles Christians experience with their own failures and the condemnation the Accuser often brings. This sermon helps believers be realistic about their journey of faith and the power of God's grace in their lives.
I want to begin this morning by reading a familiar verse, Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”i There are two verbs in that phrase and this translation accurately translates the tense. The first verb is in the past tense.ii In the past you have sinned. The second verb is in the present tense “and fall short.” The Greek present tense is used here and indicates a continuous action. You and I, no matter how sincere we may be, are continuously falling short of the perfect glory of God. Paul wrote this epistle and includes himself in the statement, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
I personally don’t struggle much with my past sins. There’s nothing I can do about them. I have asked the Lord to forgive them; and I believe He has done that. It is behind me; and I’m not going to live looking back at that. It’s a haunting life to live in vain regrets concerning the past. May God help all of us put the past in His hands and move forward in life. The past sins is not my struggle.
What I struggle with is the second half of this phrase—the stuff in the present tense--“and fall short of the glory of God.” Does anyone here struggle with falling short in your present life? You intended to pray this morning. You knew that you should pray; and you wanted to pray. But some things came up. You got distracted. And what you intended to do, you did not do. You intended to never lose your temper again. But when that guy cut you off in traffic it just came out. Coming short of the perfection God has called me too! How will I deal with that?
What do you do when you can’t live up to your own expectations? You embrace the word of God. You agree with His standards; and you want to please Him in every way you can. Yet you come up short over and over again. In Romans 7 Paul describes a struggle that went on inside of him. On the one hand, in his inner man he wanted to do good. On the other hand, he found himself not always doing good. You may remember his cry in Rom 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” He got an answer in Romans 8. But before we talk about that, I want us to understand a bit more about the struggle. Rom. 7:21-23 “I find then a law [principle], that evil is present with me [something in me is pulling me down], the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man [in the core of my being I not only accept God’s rules but I even delight in His ways]. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” So Paul describes a struggle that goes on in people between a desire to do good and a pull to do wrong. Some theologians say this is strictly talking about unsaved people. But verse 22 convinces me that it’s actually talking about Christians. Rom. 7:22 “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” The new nature in a believer delights “in the law of God according to the inward man.” The inward man of an unbeliever is dead in trespasses and sins and does not delight in the law of God. However, this is not a believer walking in full victory; he is still trying to serve God out of his own strength. Romans 8 describes a Christian who walks not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Instead of serving God out of a legalistic mindset, he is allowing the influence of the Holy Spirit do its work; and he is bearing fruit of victory. It is God’s intent that we learn to walk in the Spirit and gain victory over the struggle. But who does that perfectly? I am growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ,iii but I have not arrived at a state of unflawed performance.