In my last post, I wrote about the many times the word “all” appears in the Scriptures – nearly 6,000. The term offers great encouragement, assurance of God's presence and personal involvement in every circumstance, good and bad, that we confront in this journey called life. But not every use of “all” is as uplifting.
|We need to understand the meaning of "all."|
Romans 3:23 declares, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The same chapter also says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). That sounds harsh – and all-encompassing.
Why is this important? All we need to do is watch the evening news, or read a newspaper, for the answer. Of late we’ve heard report after report about prominent individuals – entertainers, politicians, news media celebrities, athletes and others – accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct. Reactions by employers and their industries have been swift and severe. And sadly, as some observers suggest, this may be merely the tip of a proverbial iceberg of similar accusations yet to come.
Some of these persons reveled in the misdeeds of others; now the weight of guilt has fallen on their own shoulders. How can this be? It’s because, as the Bible asserts without wavering, we all have sinned – and fallen far short of God’s glory and His perfect standards.
These recent episodes focus on one specific form of sin, but they teach a broader lesson. How can such wrongdoing be so pervasive? Why have so many stumbled, people who should have known better?
Sociologists and psychologists might offer different explanations, but I believe the reason is very simple. In our “enlightened,” “progressive,” amoral culture, we’ve rejected the clear warnings of the Scriptures. The ancient book of Job, describing the travails he endured and the debate between himself and his so-called friends, recounts his bold statement, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1). He knew even a desiring stare could lead to serious consequences.
In the book of Proverbs, chapters 4-9 speak about the snares of sexual temptation and the devastating results when those temptations are acted upon and turned to sin. Here’s a sampling:
- “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
- “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword” (Proverbs 5:3-4).
- “…a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32).
- “All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose…little knowing it will cost him his life” (Proverbs 7:22-23).
Jesus addressed this in His “sermon on the mount.” He warned, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
Not everyone is guilty of sexual sin, although a wise man once told me that we all have broken every one of the Ten Commandments in thought, word or deed. But without question, we all fit the description of Romans 3:23. We all have sinned and fallen desperately short of God righteous standard.
What’s to be done about this? It has already been done. Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” A bit later it also states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).