23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV)
For all have sinned.
This is certain, we know. The Bible also teaches that if we claim no sin in us, we are liars. Our sinfulness is a reality. But Paul’s purpose in this teaching is about humility more than sinfulness. He is speaking about the conflict in the early church between the Jews and the Gentiles.
The Jewish Christians, many of them, continued to follow the Jewish laws while also lifting Christ as the Messiah. Some Jewish Christians may have felt superior because they followed all the laws. Paul taught that though they had the law, they were still lawbreakers, thus nullifying the law so that justification came by faith, not works.
We still do this in the church. Of course, it is not revolving around Jewish law, but as the Lord cleans up our life, it is sometimes easy to look at someone else with an air of pride, thinking we have progressed further than they. We might think to ourselves that we have stopped this or that behavior; why can’t they? And we might be tempted by spiritual arrogance. But Paul reminds us that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
He goes on to teach that there is no place for boasting. He returns to Abraham to remind us that even Abraham was credited with righteousness because He believed in God. He had faith. No one may boast about their spiritual progress. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to see our sins, repent, and be sanctified. To God be the glory and none of us.
Regardless of our spiritual growth, we still need the help of the Holy Spirit every day to resist the devil and the temptations he sets before us. And we must remember that sin is sin. The spiritual arrogance to see ourselves as somehow better or more spiritual than others is no less a sin than murder. The earthly consequences are certainly different. The spiritual implication of all sin is that we are all sinners, and we all need a Savior. None of us is better than any of us. The glory for all spiritual progress belongs to God alone.
Prayer: Lord, let me always remember that my spiritual maturity is the work of your hands, and I have no place to boast. Circumcise arrogance from my heart. Amen.