Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Introduction: These two phrases are short, yet they contain volumes of information. In them we see:
Romans 3:23a “For all have sinned,”
The whole human race is guilty of desecrating the honor due God. We have not treated God as God. We have dishonored Him through disobedience. We have rebelled against Him, and often find ourselves in a state of heart where the idea of God is more hateful than the idea of the devil.
Sad to say, we are all guilty. “All have sinned”–this is the flat declaration of the Bible regarding us. It makes no difference what we think. The fact remains: “all have sinned.” Russia’s official Communist dictionary defines “sin” as an “archaic word denoting the transgression of a mythical divine law.” Nevertheless, “all have sinned.”
We were the only creatures on earth given opportunity to glorify God consciously and voluntarily. All others do it by instinct. Man alone can of his own free will honor God, but instead, we sin, and act contrary to the purpose for which we were made. We fail to love Him, and refuse to obey the best and greatest of beings. Such activity is nothing less than desecration. We often fail to realize the true horror of our deeds. The same kind of conduct of which we are guilty is what caused angels to be cast out of heaven. Their deed was so reprehensible that God had to create an everlasting lake of fire to house them.
The same kind of sin which we commit ruined the world. It drove man out of Eden and introduced sin to the world. In one evil deed were contained World Wars I and II, the Holocaust, all the rapes, murders, and abortions. Also, the sin we commit required the death of God’s only begotten Son to repair the wreckage. What desecration! To live in such a way that the very Son of God must die as a criminal, naked before the world.
Romans 3:23b “. . .and come short of the glory of God;”
We have desecrated not only God, but also ourselves. We have “fallen short,” not lived up to that for which we were created. “Sin” is an archery term which means “missed the mark.” The aim of man, our mark and bull’s eye, is the glory of God, but we have failed miserably. The chief end of man is to please God, but we invested our energies in other pursuits.
We prefer the pleasing of one another to the pleasing of God. Our hearts enjoy the applause of men. Most people would agree with Sophocles, “It is the brave man’s part to live with glory, or with glory die.” In other words, the praise of man is the worthiest pursuit. But there is little value in such an attitude. The accolades of men are vanity. To seek them is to spend much for little. It is a fading vapor.
Frederick the Great said of human acclaim, “When we examine what glory is, we discover that it is nearly nothing. Renown, praise, and honor glitter like gold but fade like smoke.” Shakespeare realized this and wrote, “Like madness is the glory of this life.” In another place he said it thus:
Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself
Till, by broad spreading, it disperses itself to naught.
We were meant and made for something better than this. We are a disappointment if this is our desire.
The most beautiful and expensive rifle in the world is a disappointment if it does not shoot straight. In fact, the better it looks, the more exasperating it is to find it does not work right. God has made us for the one object of glorifying, honoring, and pleasing Him. If we fail in this, then all our other decorations–intellect, politeness, science, art, position, wealth–all tend not to diminish but to increase our condemnation.
Our condition is serious. The diagnosis is sin. This means the sickness reaches all the way down to the bottom of our souls. If our problems were simply ignorance, we would need only a teacher. If our difficulty were simply a hormone imbalance, we would need only a physician. If our difficulty were only error in judgment, we would simply need an example.
Our problem, however, is much graver than any of these. We need in Him who is to help us a power greater than that possessed by a teacher, physician, or example. My dad was a school teacher, but finally decided people needed more than only an education. He started preaching just before I was born. His Aunt Willie thought he was crazy to give up a steady job, but his decision was correct.
Over a century ago, a young American lawyer met Christ. He soon left his blossoming legal profession because he sensed that needed more than a counselor; they needed a Savior. He became the greatest revivalist reformer of all times, Charles Finney. The need is still just as great. One of my dear friends, Bob Spradling, a Missouri pastor, gave up a partnership in the family law firm to preach the Gospel.
Moody sold shoes, but gave it up because he knew people needed more than good clothes. Billy Sunday was a professional baseball player, but left it because he knew men needed more than entertainment. Elisha was a farmer, but he gave it up because people needed more than food.
Years ago in Wales a physician left his brilliant career as a medical specialist to enter the ministry. He was convinced his patients needed more than just ordinary medicine. They needed the gospel of Jesus Christ. This physician-preacher passed away in 1981 after becoming Wales’ greatest Bible expositor, David Martin Lloyd-Jones.
All these men recognized disaster had struck the human race. They diagnosed volumes of disaster in two small phrases: “All have sinned,and come short of the glory of God.”
And what is the cure these men offer? What message did (and do) they proclaim? Simply this: God Himself sent a deliverer. One has come from Heaven itself to take upon Himself our guilt, our sin, our suffering. He has died in our place and paid our debt. All who accept the pardon made available through the death of Jesus shall be transformed, born again.