“...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” — Romans 3:23
What does it mean, as Paul says in the opening verse, to fall short of the glory of God? Every time we sin, we miss the mark and fall short of the glory of God. What, then, is the glory of God?
Depending on its context, the word “glory” occurs with some slight variations of meaning in Scripture. Essentially, the glory of God is His moral character. John 1:14 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” When John wrote, “We have seen His glory”, what did he see? Was it a bright light suspended six inches above Jesus’s head in the shape of a halo? No, what John saw in Jesus Christ was what God is like—the moral character of God.
If the law of God and the glory of God are the same thing, then the law was given in order to reveal what God is like so human beings may understand what they were designed to be like. In the beginning, when God said, “Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness...” (Genesis 1:26), He was talking about His moral image. But shortly after God created human beings, they sinned and fell short of the glory of God, no longer reflecting what God is like.
Therefore, the law was given to reveal what God is like. When the law says, “You shall not steal,” the reason for that law is not because stealing is not nice, but because God is not a thief. When the law says, “You shall not bear false witness,” it is because God never lies. When the law says, “You shall not covet,” it is because God is not greedy. When the law says, “You shall not commit adultery,” it is because God is totally faithful. When the law says, “Children, honour your parents,” interestingly, within the Trinity, the Son says, “...for I always do what pleases [the Father]” (John 8:29). Human beings are not to steal, bear false witness, covet or commit adultery, but are to honour their parents because they are made in God’s image—God’s moral character.
The law was given not as an arbitrary set of rules or a set of guidelines to help sort people out of a mess. The purpose of the law, rather, was to reveal what God is like so human beings may know what they are supposed to be like, having been created in His image.
PRAYER: Holy God, thank You for giving the law, not only so I am aware of when I fall short of Your glory, but also for me to be aware of Your moral character and who I am to reflect. Amen!