Read Romans 3:23-24
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (NLT)
Many years ago, a daredevil bike rider called Evel Knievel performed death-defying stunts. In one such stunt, he aimed to jump over a very deep canyon in the USA while on his bike. After a very long run up, he soared into space and almost made it to the other side. He just missed, but at least had a parachute attached so only his pride was injured.
What has that got to do with our text today? Our sin, our waywardness, is a falling short of God’s perfect standard. We might be very good people; we might be decent and valued members of society, but we are not perfect. And that is our problem. We can’t be accepted into God’s perfect presence unless we meet that standard.
Coming close is not good enough. God knew this and invited Jesus to live a perfect life and die a sacrificial death so that if we trust in him, God accepts us as he accepts Jesus. Relying on our own goodness is not good enough, genuine though that goodness might be. We cannot through our own sincere efforts attain perfection and thus bridge the gap.
We might protest how unfair that is. Why can’t God be ‘flexible’? But God is God: demanding he change is to risk dealing with a God of our own imaginings. Insisting he accept us through our own sincere efforts won’t work. He insists we rely on the goodness of Jesus rather than our own goodness. That alone is good enough.