“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) If there was a bible verse that I first committed to memory before any other, besides John 3:16 of course, it was Romans 3:23. I can remember going with a friend to his AWANA meeting as an 8-year-old (think of AWANA as Christian boy scouts with less camping). I desperately wanted to impress the leaders with my ability to memorize scripture, and Romans 3:23 stuck immediately. What’s interesting is that for years I actually had no idea what Romans 3:22 or 3:24 said, or most of Romans for that matter. In fact, most of us confess like we don’t know what scriptures says either.
Many Christians have incredible difficulty walking in grace. We worry as if forgiveness is something that is earned. I doubt that anybody is preaching that message from the pulpit, but look closely at the way that we repent. I was talking with a student a few weeks ago and I asked if he needed prayer for anything when he looked down in remorse and with a lump in his throat he uttered, “lust.” I immediately thanked him for his honesty and prayed with him. He was grateful, but still very much tortured. My heart broke over the shame that he was feeling. That shame looked really familiar.
“Truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. (John 8:34)” When scripture reveals our slavery to sin, repentance allows us to confess that we need forgiveness so that we may crucify our sin. Crucifixion hurts. By the unrelenting grace of God, however, the story doesn’t end with the pain of the cross. Resurrection. Wow. Can we get stoked on that? We now live in the hope and power of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. He defeated THE GRAVE. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)” That student–that Child of God is free! We are Children of God. How is it that students and leaders alike feel the need to prove our repentance to God? Until tears are shed and I don’t commit that sin for a month, I feel as dead in sin as I did the moment that committed it. That’s garbage! That attitude flies in the face of everything that we believe about God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy, power… need I continue?:
“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins.” (Romans 3:22-24)
Live in the freedom of grace and the power of resurrection and you WILL see the dead rise. He promises.
Chance Espinoza is a worship intern with Saddeback Student Ministry’s Worship team.