A Response to What Mark?
I appreciated the author’s description of God’s grace in redemption and the believer’s blessing of acceptance through being in Christ.
A more complete answer to the title question would recognize that by definition “sin” (GK hamartano) means “to miss the mark.” Since the English word is used over 100 times in the New Testament referring to moral failure of unbelievers and believers—including after Pentecost—there must be an external, objective “mark.”
In Romans, the “mark” is God’s righteousness as detected by the Gentile person’s conscience (2:12,15) and the Jewish person’s conviction of being a trespasser of God’s revealed law (3:21-23). Note that in Romans 3:23 “fall short” is in the present tense (cf. James 3:2).
In sanctification, we are admonished to not sin. God’s moral absolutes remain in force today, and righteousness should be manifested in the believer’s attitudes, character, words, and actions. So the “mark” is still the same, but the “how” of sanctification is by grace, through faith in the indwelling Christ. We should avoid both legalism and license. Rejecting the caricature of God being harsh and unloving should not imply the opposite concept of a God as a benevolent Santa Claus, yet who doesn’t care if you’re being naughty.
“Jesus came to give dead people life,” and then transform sin-characterized people into righteousness-characterized people (1 John 3:1-10). It´s not either or; it´s both and.
Another description of the “mark” of God’s standard for His children is that of being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29; Col. 3:10). By His grace we have His righteousness as our position (justification) and in our spirit (through regeneration). But in the Christian life we are also called to manifest righteousness practically through our soul and body, i.e. our daily walk (Rom.6:11-14). Paul (the same human instrument that wrote about the grace life) balanced grace with warnings that are still relevant: “Awake to righteousness (the mark), and sin not (don’t miss it); for some have not the knowledge of God” (1 Cor. 15:34).
“When you miss the mark of trusting and relying upon Christ as Life, run back to the Father-just as the prodigal son did-and find His mercy and grace ready to receive you.” Amen! That’s the how, but let´s not ignore the “what” –the objective mark of righteousness that remains for us, even in the New Covenant.
A Response to: I Missed What Mark? By David G., August 17, 2011 (An AELM Members Facebook posting)