There is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace.
This verse from the Bible causes offence to many people. They question whether there is no difference between the pious and the godless, between a benefactor and a murderer. Is that what the text actually means?
There are of course many and varied differences among people at every level, and God takes them into account. There are not only the poor and the rich, the simple and the intelligent; there are also noble-minded persons and criminals. On one decisive point, however, they are all alike, and that is what our text from the Bible points out. Everyone, without any exception, has sinned in some way or other. So the consequence is: they fall short of the glory of God. The noble-minded person no less than the criminal. In this respect they are indeed alike.
Allow me to give an illustration: a high wall, sin, separates mankind from God. A ladder is leaning against this wall. But it is far too short to reach the top. So what use is it whether someone stands on the top or the bottom rung? Nobody will be able to climb over the wall to get to the other side!
But the text didn’t end there. There is a way by which we can be justified freely: through God’s grace. God wants to redeem us in Jesus Christ, His Son. Whoever understands that he cannot satisfy God’s holy demands and grasps the salvation that God offers him in Jesus Christ will be declared righteous. This gracious offer is valid for everyone, but it must be accepted personally.