Who needs him?
Every morning I wake before the crack of dawn, make my husband’s lunch, pour a cup of coffee, and sit in front of my laptop to find out what’s new in the world since I last checked. And though on the news sites you can always find a few “feel good” stories to brighten your day, I often come away depressed because it seems the preponderance of news articles are of the “feel bad” variety – whole families gunned down, warring nations ramping up threats and planning attacks, politicians doing crack, women and girls being trafficked for sex, Common Core suggested reading lists that include pornographic material involving children (parents, you might want to check that one out).
One of the most obvious changes I experienced when I became a Christian was in my awareness of and attitude towards sin, both in my own life and in the world around me. Though I was consistently progressing towards being a “better” person, in the choices I made and the way I treated others, I felt like I was worse because I was recognizing as sin thoughts, attitudes, and deeds that never convicted me before. So too, I grieve over the sin and wrongdoing in the world like I didn’t before because I perceive it as the evil that it is.
Are you ever completely flabbergasted by the awful things people do and approve of today with apparently no conception of right and wrong? I am, and yet I shouldn’t be surprised when I consider how far we as a society have moved away from God. Just as the nearer you get to the light, the more obvious dirt and blemishes become, so too as you move away, the harder they are to see.
Not only does a world blinded and desensitized to sin breed more hatred, crime, and pain, it also hides the reality of our desperate need of a Savior. In an age when so many reject the biblical revelation of God and choose instead to believe him to be what makes sense to them, i.e. he’s loving and compassionate so he’s going to give a pass to all but the most despicably evil, a sincere sense of and sorrow for sin is rare. And so is the acknowledgement of God’s perfect holiness and his incompatibility with even the holiest of men. Rare is the realization that even one sin will keep us out of heaven unless it’s dealt with.
Consider how we think about death. The elderly, the chronically ill, men and women who engage in risky behavior…we know it won’t be long before they’re visited by the Grim Reaper. But, if we allow ourselves to think about it, we also know that eventually he’ll be calling on us as well. No one escapes death. Likewise, we are all spiritually dead because of sin, no matter how comparatively good we have been, unless and until God breathes new life into us by his Spirit and his grace through faith.
Over all the competing belief systems and arguments about the validity of this doctrine or that revelation, hangs one crucial and universal reality – we need to deal with our sin. There are only two options available to us: receive the punishment we deserve and be separated from God forever, or receive his gift of redemption and eternal life through the saving work of Jesus Christ.
God doesn’t grade on a curve. A world increasing in wickedness may make us look pretty righteous by comparison, but God’s standard is himself. And none of us can measure up to that. But, thankfully, when we submit to him in faith we do look righteous to him, because we become clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
What a gracious God he is, to have taken our sins and cast them “as far as the east is from the west.” 1 We have no excuse to resist his love and his righteousness, preferring to trust in our filthy rags.2 Our good deeds will always fail to counterbalance our sin, but his redemption through Christ takes it clean off the scale.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24