Daily Devotional: Day 167
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24, NASB).
Today’s reading is one of the oft-quoted passages of the New Testament – and for good reason. The direction of our Christian life hinges on how we understand and apply this Scripture. Before arriving at Romans 3:23-24, Paul had spent ample time explaining the judgment that is upon people for going astray from God’s revealed will. Jews had the Law, but they failed by transgressing it. Gentiles didn’t have the Law; but they had no excuse for living in unrighteousness. For, as Paul notes in Romans 1:20, “since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” The common charge, therefore, is that “all [Jews and Gentiles alike] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Notice that the Bible didn’t say all are sinners by birth. “All have sinned” means people who knew the difference between right and wrong, chose to do wrong. Moreover, notice that Paul didn’t say all never stopped sinning or all shall continue to sin. This is important, because many Christians rely – erroneously – on Romans 3:23 to justify sin in their lives and their reluctance to cease from sin. “All have sinned” is in the past tense for a reason. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, all who believe in Him shall be released from the dominion of sin and empowered to sin no more. Henceforth, they can live righteously by grace. This is the essence of being saved from your sins (cf. Matthew 1:21, John 8:34, and Romans 6:14). It is a blessed transition from being a slave to sin, to being the redeemed of the Lord. This transition is described in the next verse, Romans 3:24.
When people repent and turn to Christ, they are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” The two highlighted words are important. “Justified” means you are made just, i.e. you are made right with God through the blood of Christ. You’re no longer on the wrong side of God. Many Christians, however, stop at this point. They love the “justified” part; but they overlook the next equally important aspect of their salvation, which is redemption. The word redemption used here in Romans 3:24, is translated from the Greek word APOLUTROSIS. It refers to the act of being released from captivity or bondage upon the payment of a ransom. This means you’re redeemed, i.e. released from the power of sin. You’re no longer free to sin; you are free to not sin. You’ve been released from sin’s captivity, so that henceforth you can live exclusively for Christ and for righteousness.
In Christ, to be saved means you’re washed (in the blood of Jesus), justified, sanctified, filled with the Holy Spirit, and released from sin’s captivity. Salvation, therefore, is a transition from being a sinner to being the Lord’s redeemed. Make the most of this holy transition and blessed freedom.
May the Lord bless you and keep you from all evil. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For further study: John 8:31-36.