by Kathy Howard
Our family enjoys playing Cornhole. This old game, which has enjoyed renewed popularity in recent years, involves tossing bean bags at one of two large boards, each with a hole in the middle. Players get a single point for keeping a bag on the board and three points for getting a bag through the hole. In my experience, the game is much harder than it looks. I rarely win. When my bean bag falls short, I over compensate and fly over the board on the next toss.
But, just a few weeks ago, I experienced my best game to date. My husband and I played against our son and daughter-in-law. Two of my first four tosses shot straight through the hole and the other two landed on the board. I kept that momentum throughout the game and carried us to a strong, decisive victory. But I’m not naïve. Although I did very well in that game, I know I’ll probably slip right back into Cornhole mediocrity next time. I’ll miss the mark more than I’ll hit it.
The Bible says that every person who has ever lived has missed the mark spiritually. The Greek noun translated “sin” in Romans 3 (verses 9, 20) literally means “a missing of the mark” (The Complete Word Study New Testament). Similarly, Chata, the primary Hebrew word for sin in the Old Testament means “being off target” or “coming up short of the goal” (The Complete Word Study Old Testament).
Theologian Wayne Grudem defines and describes sin like this:
Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature… Sin is directly opposite to all that is good in the character of God, and just as God necessarily and eternally delights in himself and in all that he is, so God necessarily and eternally hates sin. It is, in essence, the contradiction of the excellence of his moral character.[i]
Sin is a universal condition. None is righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Not one person is exempt from its effects or its death sentence. We are trapped by sin, held captive by its power. We cannot break free. We cannot work hard enough to free ourselves. We cannot do enough good works to earn right standing with God. We are all helpless sinners who desperately need to be rescued.
Our condition sounds dire because it is. We stand before the divine Judge as condemned sinners. Without God’s intervention our situation is hopeless. But, thank God, there is good news! What we cannot do for ourselves, God has provided for us through His Son.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), pg 490, 492.
This post was adapted from Kathy’s upcoming devotional book “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans.”
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. Kathy is the author of 12 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and one accidental dog. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org.
Have you lost the wonder of your salvation? Maybe you’ve forgotten the abundant riches of God’s grace. The Gospel isn’t just a statement of faith. It is more than hope for eternity. The Gospel of Jesus is the power of God for your life today. Recapture the awe of your life in Christ with this 40-day pilgrimage through the book of Romans. Like the rest of the Deep Rooted devotional series, the Romans volume uses the 4-R Bible study framework to help you learn how to interact with and respond to Scripture, not simply read it. These meaty, daily devotions will increase your hunger for God’s Word, encourage spiritual growth and stability, and lay the groundwork for a life-long, spiritually-healthy habit.
Join the conversation: How did God’s gift of salvation change your life?