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Falling Short of the Glory of God

This morning I want to expand your vocabulary a little bit and teach you some new words. Now these words aren’t new in the sense that they’ve just been invented – they are actually very old words. These are words that have fallen out of use and have become somewhat archaic – kinda like some of those words you hear in Shakespeare or the Old King James version of the Bible. Words that were maybe quite common at some point of time, but you’d probably never hear them today. 

But these are some great words and I think we should start using them in our everyday conversations. So let me teach you four new old words.

  • Sluberdegullion—slacker; couch potato
  • Glabriety—baldness
  • Quockerwodger—marionette/puppet on a string
  • Snoutfair—a good-looking person

Aren’t these great words? I would challenge you to use each one of these words sometime this week! 

And there are so many great words out there – I found these four in a list of nearly 500 other archaic words and I’m sure there are many more than that!

In fact, I’d like to share with you one more archaic word that I found. And this word, perhaps even more than these other four words, was once widely known and understood throughout the English-speaking world. But in recent years, it’s use and most people’s understanding of this word has dropped dramatically. Fewer and fewer people today understand this word.

But it’s a very unique and important word – and so I wanted to bring it up and explain what it means for you today.

The word is “sin”.

Now to you faithful church-going people – this word “sin” may not seem to be all that foreign – but we live in a world where the very notion of sin is increasingly being seen as old-fashion, out-of-date, and archaic. Sin has fallen from our modern vocabulary. 

Instead, we use words like mistake, error in judgement, or a misunderstanding. Many actions that used to be clearly labeled as sinful actions are now just personal choices. We don’t like to use the word sin, because that might come across as being intolerant or judgemental.

And I’ll admit, as a pastor, I would much rather preach about joy and peace and love and hope – than to preach about sin! Sin is not a fun topic to talk about. But it is so important that we do.

Understanding sin is critical to understanding salvation.

In three weeks, we are going to be celebrating Easter – which is the centrepiece celebration for every Christian. It’s at Easter that we celebrate that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our… sin.

But if we don’t understand sin, when we won’t understand what Jesus saved us from. And if we don’t understand what Jesus saves us from, then we probably won’t really understand why we need Salvation, why we need Jesus?

I think that’s exactly what we see in the world around us. Because we’ve removed ‘sin’ from our vocabulary, I would say that most of the people around us don’t see any need for Jesus. They look at their lives, and for the most part, things seem to be going pretty good – so what do they need to be saved from? Without an understanding of sin, they don’t see any need for salvation. They don’t see any need for Jesus. We have to understand sin in order to understand why we need salvation through Jesus Christ.

I think even as Christians, how we understand sin makes a dramatic impact on how we live our lives.

In Luke chapter 7, we see a great illustration of this as Jesus is eating dinner with a certain Pharisee named Simon – and along comes this ‘sinful woman’ – obviously a woman with a reputation. But let me read for you how this plays out. Luke chapter 7, verse 36.

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”

40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”

“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.

41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”

43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 

Luke 7:36-47

I wonder if that’s true for us? I wonder if our love for God is little because we fail to understand how much we’ve been forgiven – because we fail to understand just how much we’ve been saved from. 

Now to be clear, both the woman and the Pharisee were sinners. Both faced the devastating consequences of their sin. But this woman seemed to have a much better grasp on the gravity of her sinful situation than this Pharisee. And as a result, she loved Jesus far more.

Do we understand the gravity of our own sinful situation? It’s easy to see how much ‘other sinners’ might need Jesus – but do we grasp the seriousness of our own sin?

These are some of the questions that have been rolling around in my mind recently,  and so for the next few weeks as we approach Easter, I want us to take some time to count the cost of sin.

What’s so bad about a little sin anyway? As you read through the Bible, God sure seems to get angry about sin a lot  – so why is sin such big deal? Well, let’s count the cost of sin. 

How has sin impacted the world and what are the consequences that have come with it? What does sin do to our relationships – with each other and with God? What does it cost you and I to allow sin in our lives today? And finally, what’s the cost to deal with sin – and who’s responsible to pay that price?

Sin is not just an archaic three-letter word. It’s something that has had and will continue to have a devastating effect on our world and on our lives. It’s so important that we count the cost of sin.

So where do we start? Well, before we can count the cost of sin, we need to understand exactly what sin is and so that’s what we’re going to do today. I want to try to define sin this morning. What is sin?

Well, I want us to start in what might seem to be an unlikely place. Of all the verses in the Bible that I could choose to talk about sin, this is probably not the first one that would come to mind. But I think it’s a very clear picture for us of what sin is. The verse is Judges 20:16 and it goes like this:

16 Among Benjamin’s elite troops, 700 were left-handed, and each of them could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth without missing. Judges 20:16

Now, this might not strike you as a verse about sin, but it most certainly is. These expert slingers were so accurate that they could sling a rock at a target that was only the width of a hair (which is less than a millimetre) and not miss. Now that’s pretty impressive, but for our purposes today, that’s not really the point. 

What I want to show you is the Hebrew word ‘Khata’. Khata is the word that is translated into English as “missing”. They could sling their stones and not khata – that is, they would not miss the target.

That’s what khata means – it means to miss the target. It’s anything less than a perfect bullseye. So these slingers could sling stones with their left hand and not khata.

Now what’s interesting is that same word ‘Khata’ is used in 1 Samuel 12:10 which reads:

10 “Then they cried to the Lord again and confessed, ‘We have sinned by turning away from the Lord and worshiping the images of Baal and Ashtoreth.’” 1 Samuel 12:10

Guess which word in the Hebrew is khata? Sinned. We have sinned (we have khata-ed) by turning away from the Lord. We have missed the target. We’ve not hit the bullseye on this one.

And this really is the idea behind the word sin – it’s to miss the mark, to miss the target. 

But of course, that begs the question, “Well, then what’s the target? What exactly are we aiming for?”

Take a look at Romans 3:23.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 NIV

In other words, all of us have missed the target and our darts have fallen short of what target….? Of the Glory of God.

Our aim and our target is the glory of God. Well, what in the world does that mean? How do we aim for (and miss) the glory of God?

Well, there are two ways that we can understand this verse:

The first way we could understand this is that the Glory of God refers to God’s moral perfection. In fact, the New Living Translation says it like this:

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 NLT

In other words, God is perfectly good and and He never does what is wrong. We, however, have missed that mark. There are times when we have done wrong. There are times when we have not been good. And so we have sinned. We have missed the target of God’s moral perfection.

I don’t think any honest person could say that they have never done wrong. That they’ve never told a lie or had an evil thought. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard of perfection.

So that’s one way that we could understand this. But I think we need to go a little deeper on this. If this is where we left it, we might be tempted to say something like “Well, nobody’s perfect…. Everyone makes mistakes, so God should be a little more understanding….”

But sin isn’t about making mistakes. It’s really more about our heart condition. It’s about us failing at the core of who we are, to be the kind of people that God created us to be. Let me show you what I mean.

To help us further understand this idea of the ‘glory of God’, let’s jump over to 1 Corinthians 11:7.

A man should not wear anything on his head when worshiping, for man is made in God’s image and reflects God’s glory. 1Corinthians 11:7

Now again, for today’s discussion, I’m not so much focused no the instruction here for men not to wear anything on their heads while worshipping, but rather the reason why. And that reason is because man is made in God’s image and reflects God’s glory.

We see this right in the Creation story in Genesis 1:26-27.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings in his own image.

    In the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26-27

God created human beings to be unlike anything else in all of Creation! He created us to be reflections of his image – to be like Him. We are to be reflections of his goodness, his love, his kindness, his joy and all that stuff!

In other words, God’s intention and purpose in creating mankind, was that man would love God and love others just like God does. Our love for God should be a reflection of the love we see within the Godhead – the love shared between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They have a perfect love towards one another – and we should have that same kind of love, honor, and respect for God. 

And our love for our fellow man should be the same love that God has towards us. God has given us great dignity and worth – he treats us as dearly loved children and he wants what is best for us. We are to reflect and mimic that in how we treat and interact with each other.

God created us – God created you for that very purpose. He created you in His image to reflect His glory – to be a mirror image of his goodness and love.

But this is the target that we have failed to hit.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 NIV

Everyone of us have failed to be that reflection of the glory of God. We have not lived up to God’s purpose and intention for our lives.

Not only do we fail at loving God and loving others – probably on a daily basis, but we are born with a natural inclination to be selfish rather than loving. That wasn’t God’s design. God’s design is that we would be born inclined to worship and love God and to be kind to one another, to serve one another, to do good to one another. But that’s sure not the case, is it?

We’re born selfish. We have a natural inclination to rebel against and to ignore God – and to do whatever we want to get whatever we want.

Paul describes the human condition as being ‘slaves to sin’ – like we have this internal drive to ‘miss the mark’ – to fail at being who God created us to be. Paul says in Romans 7:21…

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Romans 7:21-23

And that’s the real kicker! We are slaves to sin. We are slaves to missing the mark. Slaves to failing to be who God created us to be.

We can’t escape our own selfishness. And as we’re going to see next week, that selfishness – that sinful nature – will destroy us from the inside out. Paul laments in the next verse of this passage – verse 24….

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Romans 7:24

And I think many of us have been there. Maybe we’ve never put it in these words, but we’ve experienced the misery of being a slave to our own sin. A slave to our own selfishness. A slave to failing to be who God created us to be.

I met with a guy this week who’s world is completely falling apart. He is living in absolute misery. The pain and suffering that he has had to endure because he has been enslaved to sin is awful. He probably wouldn’t use Paul’s words, but I’m sure he’d echo the sentiment. “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”

You see, sin isn’t just the bad things we do. It’s not just those times when we fail to love God or to love others. It’s actually our inability to be who God created us to be. It’s our inability to live as the image of God and to reflect his glory.

Salvation isn’t just God saying “I forgive you for the bad things you’ve done.” Salvation is God giving us freedom from our sin – giving us the freedom to be who God created us to be – that is to be reflections of his love, his joy, his peace, and all of his goodness…

So this morning if that’s the kind of freedom you want to have – if you’re echoing Paul lament “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” – Paul has an answer! He continues in verse 25.

25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:25

Jesus Christ is the only human who never sinned – he never missed the mark. He’s the only one who has never failed to love God and to love others. He is the only one who has lived his life as an accurate reflection of glory of God.

And we’re going to talk more about this in the weeks to come, but in essence, Jesus came to trade his life for yours. By dying on the cross and rising to life again, Jesus would take the consequences of your sin and in exchange, He would offer you the rewards of his sinless life. 

Even though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – that doesn’t have to be our permanent status. Jesus wants to trade his perfect life –  his scorecard of perfect bullseye’s every time – he wants to trade that for your scorecard of failures and falling short.

Not only does God offer you forgiveness for sin, but He also offers you freedom from sin. Freedom from a life dominated by sin and death – freedom to be who God created you to be – created in his image, reflecting all the goodness or the glory of your Creator!

And if that still doesn’t convince you, then come back next week, because we’re going to continue to count the cost of sin. I think the more we see sin for how truly destructive it is in our world in and in our lives, the more amazing God’s gift of freedom from sin will become.

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