Summary: One of Maxwell Smart’s common phrases was "I missed it by that much." That was funny on a sitcom, but in the real world - and in the spiritual world - that can be deadly.

OPEN: Video of Maxwell Smart ending in “missed it by that much”

Back in the 60’s the spies on TV and in the movies were heroes. Whether it was James Bond, Matt Helm, Napoleon Solo, or the cast from Mission Impossible - they were suave and resourceful, capable of escaping danger and death with skill and ingenuity.

They were almost superhuman in their abilities

And then along came Maxwell Smart.

Smart was always supremely confident in his own abilities. He always knew that his superior abilities and training would help him save mankind from Kaos.

But in reality was he was totally inept.

He was totally incapable of even the most basic spy techniques.

And he was always “missing something” by “that much.”

Now, that was funny on a TV sitcom. But if that was how everything happened in real life, we could end up in some serious trouble.

ILLUS: Back in the 90’s a California research firm considered the advertising slogan for a popular soap that was 99.4% pure. And they asked themselves the question: “What if everything in the world operated at 99% efficiency?” They discovered:

- drinking water would be unsafe one hour out of each month.

- two planes would crash land - each day - at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

- five hundred surgeries would be botched each week

- and 20,000 prescriptions would be improperly filled each year.

I wouldn’t want to drink that water.

I wouldn’t want to fly on those planes.

And I wouldn’t want to have those pharmacists and surgeons anywhere near me or my family.

99% efficiency is NOT acceptable in these matters, because missing these things by just “that much” (just 1%) can many times be deadly.

And here in Romans 3, Paul is telling us that this can be true of salvation as well.

There’s a lot of people believe out there that all they need to do to get into heaven is live a comparatively decent life. Now, they’ll grant you that they probably sin a little bit each day.

They’ll grant that they’ve thought bad thoughts.

They’ve done bad things.

And they’ve said bad words.

But they think that on a scale of 100, they’re somewhere in the 90 to 95% range of being moral. Maybe they’re even in the 99 percentile.

But Paul wrote: “ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

The Greek word for sinned in Rom. 3:23 is hamartano which literally means “To miss the mark”. In other words… all of us have missed the perfection needed to be saved… by “that much”.

Now, there are a lot of people who believe that, if they can just follow a set of rules, they will end up living a fairly decent life and they will stand a chance of being acceptable to God.

In fact, there seem to have been some Jews in the church at Rome who thought that very thing about themselves.

You see, the Jews had been the people of the Law.

They had all the rules and regulations all laid out for them.

They knew what to do and not do to please God.

But could they keep those rules perfectly?


The Bible repeatedly points out that such sinlessness was impossible.

To prove that, Paul goes through a whole list of Old Testament Scriptures that show that even the Jews who had God’s Word sitting right in front of them - even the Jews couldn’t live perfect lives.

Look at vs. 10-18

“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’” Ps. 14

Then he turns to another verse:

"Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." Ps. 5

Then he turns to another verse:

"The poison of vipers is on their lips." Ps 140

Then he turns to another verse:

"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." Ps 59

Then he turns to another verse:

"Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know." Isaiah 59

Then he turns to another verse:

"There is no fear of God before their eyes." Ps 36:1

Paul hits it again and again – like a drum beat.

Over and over, he proves that Israel couldn’t stay moral because of their list of dos and don’ts.

They couldn’t do it!!!

And neither can you or I.

In fact, in Colossians 2 Paul says NO SUCH LIST can ever make us holy

“’Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because… (amongst other things) they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

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