How We Use Romans 3:23 In The Wrong Context
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."— Romans 3:23
One of the insecurities I have as a working professional is my lack of a proper college degree. I live in a country where almost all industries require or highly prefer a college diploma.
But what has brought me solace and assurance in the years I have been in ministry and marketplace is meeting other people without college degrees but who have made a name for themselves in their respective fields. Then I read the biographies of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and so on.
Then I actually met college dropout executives, pastors and entrepreneurs, making me realised I'm not alone and that I'm not completely hopeless.
But even with that, I have always resolved not to make that an excuse to remain complacent and to stop learning and growing.
In some way, the same goes for us Christians at times in our spiritual walk.
Romans 3:23 does for all of us what finding successful college dropouts did for me: It makes us feel better knowing that we're all on the same boat.
However, that can be twisted in seemingly insignificant ways to come up with a terribly misleading doctrine altogether.
An Excuse To Remain Fallen
Romans 3:23 can sometimes be abused and turned into an excuse to remain fallen. When we start thinking, "well if everyone is messed up, I guess there's nothing wrong with me choosing to remain messed up."
While we are all our own unique messes, this shouldn't be a reason for us to stop wanting to grow spiritually and to be rid of struggles, sins and wrong mindsets that hold us back from a life lived according to God's standards. Yes, we'll never get to complete perfection, but our goal should be to get as close to it as possible.
Hope Through The Gospel
The only hope that we are offered to experience lasting change, the only hope we really need is that which the gospel offers. We cannot transform ourselves. While we can change our behaviours, we cannot always change the condition of our heart that dictates those behaviours.
But what Romans 3:23 does is to make us realise that we are depraved beyond measure. It sets us up for the truth that we "...are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:24) Through Christ, we experience justification which then leads us to true repentance and change.
When we know how truly hopeless we are and what glorious hope there is through Jesus Christ, we cannot help but be drawn to the promise of life to the full through His life, death and resurrection. If there's anything Romans 3:23 should cause us to do it's to humbly and wholeheartedly pursue Christ, not remain in our broken nature.