By Patrick Hawthorne
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Romans 3:23-24 KJV)
Romans 3:23 is very popular among the Body of Christ. On the same token, it is one of the most misunderstood verses among the Body of Christ. Most read it as, “Ah yes dear brother and sisters, we are all nothing but poor old sinners…mere worms, saved by God’s grace alone.”
While I’m all for true humility, many use this verse as a “See me…See what a poor wretched excuse of a person I am for Jesus.” I know that is a bit extreme but that is how I often feel when I hear some of the comments made from professing Christian’s. No offense, but if I wasn’t already saved, I sure wouldn’t want to meet your Jesus if that is how you expect me to behave.
Ah…but I don’t believe that is the implication of this verse? Let’s dig deeper and see, shall we?
Looking at this verse according to the New Living Translation, it reads, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. (Romans 3:23-24 NLT).” I want you to pay particular attention to that one small portion, “Yet God.”
“Yet God.” Let that sink in for a moment. Remember, in the previous verse it is we who fall short of God’s glorious standard because of our sins, “Yet God!” “Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right (righteous – right with Him) in His sight.” In other words, how we see ourselves in Christ Jesus (compared to how God sees us) tends to be skewed by our sin.
Let’s use an example to illustrate this point. Suppose you are driving along an old country road and spot the shell of a Sixty’s model muscle car. If you are the type person who does not appreciate vintage cars you will most likely see an old rust bucket and think nothing of it. However, a vintage car guy can drive by the same field and see a beauty ready to be restored. Well…You and I are that old rust bucket and God is the vintage car guy.
As the vintage car guy in this illustration, God sees us not for what we are but for what we will be through His completed work. While we may see ourselves as old rust buckets who God took mercy upon, He sees us as that metallic blue muscle car with more horse power under the hood than should be thought legal. He takes delight in restoring us not for our glory but for His. We are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus. We are restored to be used by Him and for Him.
So, the next time you are tempted to down yourself by confessing, “I’m just an old sinner saved by grace,” rethink who you are. Yes, we all sin. There is no doubt about that. However, don’t insult the Mechanic. You were once was an old sinner but now you are a new creation in Christ Jesus. God has made you ready to hit the open road, full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Begin to see yourself as He sees you. Be blessed.