All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
What are the characteristics of a person who is in a right standing with God? The Bible reveals that they are contrary to our human reasoning. They turn our expectations upside down because they are God’s wisdom and not man’s wisdom. Who is the person God forgives? Paul explained in Romans 4:5: “To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”
First of all, this verse tells us, God forgives those who admit they are ungodly. “To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly.” That word “justifies” is a legal term that means “to declare not guilty.” Imagine a judge in his robe pounding his gavel and declaring, “Not guilty.” The Bible says the people whom God declares “not guilty” are the ungodly.
If you ask the average person on the street, “Who do you think is going to be in Heaven?” they will say something like, “People who go to church” or “People who read the Bible” or “People who help little old ladies.” Those are the people who get to go to Heaven, right? No, Paul said. The people who go to Heaven are the ungodly. Those are the ones God forgives. What does “ungodly” mean? The prefix “un-” can mean “not.” When we say somebody is unfriendly, it means they are not friendly. When we say somebody is unloving, they are not loving. We say somebody is ungodly, we mean they are not like God. We do not have a problem accepting that. We know we are not like God: God is infinite; we are finite. God is all-powerful; we are weak.
The prefix “un-” also means “opposed to.” When we say somebody is un-American, we do not mean they are not like an American. We mean they are opposed to the values and ideals that our country was founded on. Decades ago, the House had a subcommittee on un-American activities to ferret out people in our country who were opposed to the basic principles of our country. When Paul referred to the ungodly, he was talking about people who are opposed to God. And guess who that is? Every one of us.
We are all born with an inclination to oppose God. When God says yes, our first inclination is to say no. When God says no, our first inclination is to say yes. We have all inherited that sin tendency. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We do not understand that. We point to people who are worse than we are and measure our morality by them. We compare ourselves to other people, but God sees no difference in humanity. There is no difference in God’s eyes between the pastor and the prostitute, between the governor and the gunman, between the lawyer and the lawless, between the sophisticated and the savage. We are all sinners who need a Savior. And the first step to being forgiven is to admit we are ungodly.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Most Important Verse In The Bible” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)