Jews and Gentiles are united as one in our reading today. Their unifying factor is that ALL have sinned. There is not one righteous person, apart from Jesus.
Paul is not ready to get down to brass tacks. The bottom line is that each one of us, no matter how “good” we may believe ourselves to be, has sinned at some point in our life. That makes us all equal in God’s equation of righteousness. We don’t meet the standard.
Man knew this before the Law was given, as evidenced by remorse over inappropriate behavior. Many thought themselves to be a good person but I can almost bet that no one thought or thinks they are perfect. We all know the secrets that hide in our hearts whether we admit them out loud or not.
But God wanted to set measurable standards that we could measure ourselves against. He wanted to give us the descriptions of right and wrong so there would be no confusion. Contrary to today’s beliefs right and wrong are not relative but absolute. God put them down in His Law that He delivered to Moses.
God delivered His Law to His people first. This didn’t mean they were perfect or the only ones able to live up to it. He simply acted through them as a way to reach out to man. And, as expected, His people couldn’t live up to the Law He gave. Try as they might, they too fell short. Every one of them without exception.
With the Law, God also gave a way for those who broke it to receive forgiveness. It wasn’t a complete forgiveness as the remedy had to be applied over and over again. That remedy was the shedding of innocent blood. Animals were used for this purpose. But their sacrifice wasn’t voluntary or lasting. The offering of animal sacrifices never eliminated the sin. It only covered it up. So the Law never saved anyone. Another sacrifice was needed to accomplish what the Law couldn’t do.
Tomorrow we will see that sacrifice. We will observe how God, through His infinite mercy, made it possible for us to truly be forgiven.
Father God, I know You know my heart and how I have failed so many times. You know all my secrets, yet You still love me. I will never fully understand why but I accept it with my whole heart. Thank You for giving us defined rules. For drawing a line in the sand. I understand circumstances often mitigate judgement on right and wrong but there are still standards that You expect to be upheld. I know I will never be able to live up to Your standards on my own. Thank You for making a way for me to be with You instead. Thank You for true forgiveness and righteousness. Not of my own but through Jesus.