(Bible Reading Plan for Sunday is Romans 3-4).
Romans 3:23 is a familiar verse to us. For all its familiarity, don’t let it skim in and out of your mind as you read.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Genesis 6:5 says that
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
This verse doesn’t stand for just that pre-deluge time. (antediluvian). It’s for all time. As then, now people now live in a time of great wickedness, their hearts’ every intention thinking evil, all the time. That is the natural state of unsaved man. For saved man, it’s the natural state we resist against, with the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
So, all have sinned and fallen short.
The Strong’s definition for the word fallen short is:
5302 /hysteréō (“failing to fulfill a goal”) means to be in lack and hence, unable to meet the need at hand because depleted (“all run out”). This state of lack (insufficiency, privation) naturally results when a person misses out on what is vital.
I grew up during the time when American stunt performer Evel Knieval was active. He was a guy in a Captain America-type suit who would line up a zillion semi-trucks and go really fast on a motorcycle and jump them. He was always jumping something. Of course, being a daredevil stunt performer, his feats had to become increasingly daring to keep his audience.
In 1974 he decided he wanted to jump the Snake River Canyon. This is a 1600 foot jump. A motorcycle can’t jump that far so Knieval invented a ‘sky-cycle.’ His contraption was a bucket seat attached to a steam-powered thrust engine. Knieval attempted the jump in August 1974. He fell short. The parachute accidentally deployed and the sky-cycle was dragged by winds back to the launch site.
We all fall short, all the time. If we think our Bible reading will get us into heaven, it won’t. If we think our good deeds will get us in, they won’t. If we think our donations and charity will get us in, they will not. God’s glory is so far and so high, there is nothing we can do to arrive into His light and dwell there. Our sin prevents it. We are unrighteous.
Fortunately, Jesus came to live, die as the perfect sacrificial sacrifice for sin, and be resurrected. His cross bridges that gap. We don’t have to strive, construct contraptions to get across, or worry if our own merits and good works are enough. Jesus is enough. If we are in Him, we will never fall short- because He didn’t.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Romans 3:21-22)