For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 1:18-3:20 is the most important section on sin in all the Bible. And then, three verses later, in Romans 3:23, we come to the most important single verse on sin in all the Bible. But what exactly is sin? What is the essence of sin?
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, considered by many to be the greatest English-speaking preacher of the 20th century, wrote this:
I am not asking whether you know things about Him but do you know God, are you enjoying God, is God the centre of your life, the soul of your being, the source of your greatest joy? He is meant to be. He made man in such a way that that was to be the position, that man might dwell in communion with God and enjoy God and walk with God. You and I are meant to be like that, and if we are not like that, it is sin. That is the essence of sin. We have no right not to be like that. That is sin of the deepest and worst type. The essence of sin, in other words, is that we do not live entirely to the glory of God. (Spiritual Depression, 31)
Another British evangelical, J.I. Packer, once described sin in this way:
What, in positive terms, is the essence of sin? Playing God; and, as a means to this, refusing to allow the Creator to be God so far as you are concerned. Living, not for him, but for yourself; loving and serving and pleasing yourself without reference to the Creator; trying to be as far as possible independent of him, taking yourself out of his hands, holding him at arm's length, keeping the reins of life in your own hands; acting as if you, and your pleasure, were the end to which all things else, God included, must be made to function as a means - that is the attitude in which sin essentially consists. Sin is exalting oneself against the Creator, withholding the homage due to him, and putting oneself in his place as the ultimate standard of reference in all life's decisions. (God's Words, 73)
More succinctly, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the great Soviet dissident and writer once wrote, "If I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God."
All three of these statements are true. We have all sinned against a holy God. We have all fallen short of his glory. All of us.
Lord, I confess my sin and my sinfulness to you and I am so grateful that Jesus came to save us from our sin.