God’s Glorious Gift (Romans 3:23-24)
[For] all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ²⁴and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus —Romans 3:23-24
Man was created as God’s image-bearer to reflect His glory. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were radiant in their reflection of the glory of their Creator. I can imagine Adam and Eve as shining with such brilliance it would have been, for us, like looking at the sun. God’s glorious presence shone in them and through them. But when they sinned, they lost fellowship with God, the glory faded, the light went out. Their eyes turned inward and they hid themselves. Oh, the sorrow and dread of sin. They traded the glory of God for a claim to wisdom and became fools—and so have we all. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
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I put my car in park and let it idle in Mary’s driveway. I was just dropping her off at her home after our lunch together, but before getting out of the car she paused to ask some questions about my recent conversion to Christ. God had changed me and she was curious. I had longed to share the gospel with her and now God was opening the door!
Not confident about where to start, I silently lifted up a prayer to God for help. Then, to my surprise and clear as a bell, He brought to my mind Romans 3:23. With my heart pounding, I quoted it to Mary. Her response was quick and fierce, “What?? You’re telling me that I’m not a good person!!?? I am most certainly a good person!” I fumbled trying to explain that this was what God was saying about all of mankind—this is the condition of all of us—you and me. But Mary was already out of the car. Oh, if I only had a few more minutes to talk with her about God’s glory and grace in our justification through Christ! But God is faithful, and that would come later.*
The Holy Spirit must reveal the truth about our sin. Without Him opening our ears, we cannot hear it. Sin continues in every generation, in every person; each one twisted to exchange God’s glory for earthly wisdom. J. I. Packer describes our sinful state in his book Knowing God:
Modern men and women . . . naturally incline to a high opinion of themselves . . . are resolutely kind to themselves, treating small virtues as compensating for great vices and refusing to take seriously the idea that, morally speaking there is anything much wrong with them . . . they tend to dismiss a bad conscience in themselves and in others as an unhealthy psychological freak, a sign of disease or mental aberration rather than an index of moral reality . . . The thought of themselves as creatures fallen from God’s image, rebels against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in God’s sight, fit only for God’s condemnation, never enters their heads. (pg. 130)
We are dead in our trespasses and sins. "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:11-18). "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4)!
By His grace, He gives us ears to hear the gospel call. He gives us the gifts of repentance and faith. He gives us eyes to see the glory of His grace shining in the face of Jesus. Have you looked to Him? Through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, we are justified by God’s grace as a gift. It is a gift! As hard as we work, we can’t earn it. As good as we strive to be, we don’t deserve it. Given our own devices and strength, we will always fall short of God’s glory.
Augustus Toplady well said,
Not the labors of my hand Can fulfill Thy law’s demands. Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone Thou must save, and Thou alone.
We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Our sin was imputed to Jesus on the cross. Jesus became sin for us. And His righteousness was imputed to our account that we might be the righteousness of God in Him. Glorious exchange! Now as we look to Him, our faces are radiant. Clothed in Christ’s righteousness, God’s glory shines in us again! Though in part now, yet fully on that day when we see Jesus face to face.
Have you turned to Jesus in faith? He invites you to come to Him today, to repent and believe the gospel—to trust in Him is to receive forgiveness for your sin and the gracious gift of justification. If this is your heart’s cry, you can talk with Jesus right now through prayer and tell Him you trust Him and place your faith in Him.
If you are a Christian, take some time to pray and examine your heart before the Lord to see if your life is reflecting His glory. Have you slipped into trusting your good works to merit favor with Him? Don’t wait! Repent of this sin now—He will forgive you!
Share the gospel with those precious souls God brings across your path today.
(*My friendship with Mary has continued for 40 years. Three years after her first questions that day in her driveway, God irresistibly drew her to Himself and opened the eyes of her heart to the gospel. She continues in His love today.)