Over the last few days I have been thinking a lot about Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It is a verse probably as well known as the old children’s rhyme, “Ring Around the Rosy.” Many of us I am sure remember playing the game as a child. We would spin around in a circle and then we would “all fall down.” So too it seems that all of mankind though created in the image of God has fallen down…or should I say “fallen short.”

It struck me as interesting as I considered this verse that the verbs were not in the same tense. First, we are told that all “have sinned.” Here the verb is in the past tense, pointing to a already accomplished reality. Each and every person (except Jesus of course) has committed sin. They have violated God’s holy standard. They have rebelled against the knowledge of His revealed character (Rom. 1:18ff). The other verb tells us that we all “fall short”. Here the verb is in the present tense indicating an on going reality. It seems likely that this state is a result of the first. We have sinned and as a result we are short of the “glory of God.” We have become thoroughly unrighteous, while He has remained thoroughly righteous.

Yet what struck me the most though was the consideration of why we don’t realize just how short we fall. We don’t appreciate the depth of our depravity, because we don’t have an appreciation of the glory of God. Romans 1:22-23 says, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” It seems evident to me that the reason we don’t see how far short we fall is because, we have replaced the glory of God with the image of a god of our own choosing. Indeed we would rather be the “fool who has said in his heart, ‘There is no God!'” (Ps. 14:1, Ps. 53:1).

It is only when we see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” that we begin to recognize the how far short we fall. With out the revelation of the glory of God through Christ, we would continue to be lost in the futile speculation that resulted from our denial of the Creator as revealed through His creation. Despite what some might think the glory of God manifest in creation will never save anyone, it will only serve as a basis for their condemnation.