The Right Platform
George Everard, 1885
"There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:22, 23
The truth here laid down is of immense importance to such as desire solid, abiding peace, and a sure hope of everlasting life. You must take your right position, if you wish to journey in the right direction.
An illustration of this might be found in the Willesden Station, which is so largely used in reaching various parts of the metropolis. Whatever is your destination, you have to be most careful in one point. Whether you are going to Victoria or Broad Street, or Hampstead, or elsewhere — you must take care to get on the right platform for that particular station, and before very long the train will draw up to it, and you enter, and by-and-by you find yourself at the station to which you are bound.
It is the same with those who wish to reach the home of God's saints. You must be very careful to be on the right platform, and then the train of God's free salvation will take you up and carry you safe to glory.
But what is this platform? What is the position which every man must take who wishes to be saved? There is no doubt or uncertainty about it. Very plainly does Paul tell us in his Epistle to the Romans and elsewhere. It is the platform of self-condemnation. It is the laying aside every self-righteous, self-excusing plea — and the taking the place of a vile sinner, a law-breaker, in the sight of God. The law speaks for this purpose, "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19). The foundation of God's plan of redemption rests on this fact, that the whole race of mankind have broken His law, and all alike, without distinction, are deserving of damnation for their transgressions. "There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
The old version, "There is no difference" scarcely puts this truth so clearly as the new. There is a difference, a very wide difference, between one and another. There is a difference as to the measure of responsibility, in regard to the light possessed and the privileges given. There is a difference as to . . .
the amount of guilt,
the direct and willful violation of God's law,
the length of time in which sin has been practiced,
the influence exerted for the injury of others —
and all these must weigh in the balance with Him whose dealings are all in equity and truth.
Great is the difference between one in a Christian land like England — and one like the poor Arabs in the Sudan who have never known the light of the Gospel. Great is the difference between a young person yielding for the first time to some subtle temptation — and the hoary-headed sinner who each year had reached a deeper depth of evil, and who with seared conscience and hardened heart has been a cause of stumbling to multitudes.
But in spite of these differences, in one important point, "there is no distinction." There is not one that has kept the law. There is not one but has sinned, and thus failed of the glory of God.
The expression in Romans 3:23, "fall short of the glory of God," suggests a thought that may help us to see the truth here revealed. A match in archery is to take place, and none shall win but he who touches the bulls-eye of the target. Many try their skill, and some come nearer than others. The concentric rings are hit by one arrow or another, but the only matter of importance is whether any one actually touches the bulls-eye. If otherwise, all alike fail.
In the matter before us, perfect holiness — perfect and constant obedience in word, thought, and deed, and that out of a pure and perfect heart — is the end of God's law. But who has reached it? No doubt some may come nearer than others, but where is one who has never failed? Not one can be found, except our great Pattern the Lord Jesus Christ. All we, the rest, have sinned and come short of it. We are far too corrupt by nature, and far too prone to evil — to approach anywhere near the perfection which the law demands.
I want you honestly to own this, and recognize it before God. Do not try to put in any claim of your own for arrest of judgment. Do not try to lull conscience to sleep by imagining . . .
that you are not so bad as others, or
that you have done many things which are right, or
that you have at times some good feelings or intentions.
All these are of no avail in meeting the claims of God's law. If you had lived for twenty years a sinless life, and then had cherished one wicked thought — the law pronounces you guilty. But instead of this, is there one single day or hour in your whole life which you could present to God as being stainless, without blemish, and guided entirely by the right motive of supreme love to Him?
Therefore learn the lesson. You must stoop and take the lowest place. By the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you must confess yourself to be a sinner deserving to be damned. You must condemn yourself, and be willing to be saved on the same footing as a criminal — yes, even as a murderer. "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" must be your only plea. When you come to this, there is at once a wide door of hope opened to you — there a free, sure, complete forgiveness offered to you in Christ's name. There is no need of delay, and no danger of rejection. Come at once to the Lord Jesus, and He will receive you and put away all the sin of the past. Twelve, fourteen, sixteen years of sin and rebellion may be pardoned this very hour, through faith in Christ's atoning blood.
Look at the words closely connected with the passage of Scripture on which I have touched. On both sides, before and after, it is linked with the free redemption which comes through Christ. See verses 21 and 22, which tell of "the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all those who believe." Thank God for this glorious gift of a sheltering righteousness which hides every spot and every stain from the eye of Divine Justice! So again in verse 24, "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." No distinction! All who confess their sin and accept the righteousness of God's providing, stand free from guilt, without blame before the Majesty of Heaven, righteous in Him who is "Jehovah-Tzidkenu" "The Lord our Righteousness."
"Mine is the sin, but Yours the righteousness;
Mine is the guilt, but Yours the cleansing blood.
Here is my robe, my refuge, and my peace —
Your blood, Your righteousness, O Lord, my God."