Here’s VERSE #5:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Everybody sins and falls short of God’s glory. You. Me. Your pastor. Billy Graham. Mother Teresa. The Apostle Paul. EVERYBODY.
God makes it 1,296% clear that we can’t work our way into heaven on our own no matter how hard we try. If that’s the way you approach your life, it’s a bit like being in a high-jump competition where after years of training, vitamin supplements and maybe even steroids and blood doping your best effort barely clears three feet — but the qualifying height is a googleplex times infinity plus a gazillion miles. You’ll always, always, always come up short.
So, what’s the solution? The Apostle Paul grappled with that very question in the greatest Bible tongue-twister of all time:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.
And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is the sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:15-20)
Basically, it’s a war:
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Praise be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-25)
Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:1-3, 5-6a)
So, stop jumping on your own and let Jesus carry you. It’s a matter of life and death.
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