December 19, 2009

Christ came to save sinners

For some people, sin is the big stuff like murder, adultery and grand theft auto. Think Hitler, serial killers and so on. Those who do these things may suppose that their sins are too great and that they are beyond salvation.

For others, their sins seem so slight (in their minds) that salvation is not necessary. They compare themselves to the Hitlers of this world and believe that they have no need for repentance and salvation.

Both ends of the spectrum and a lot of people in the middle fail to understand the nature of sin. For us, sin is by degrees, but in the mind of God, sin is sin. A small lie labels a sinner  just as a far more serious (in our minds) act. In fact, the Bible reveals that God is a black and white thinker when it comes to evil.

This diagram helps me understand the nature of sin: 

pure evil < < < human good reborn/godly > > > like Jesus
To explain, all human beings fall short of the glory of God. Sin separates them from God, one sin or many. That puts all humanity on the left side of the Cross. This includes “good” people by human standards, and “evil” people by anyone’s standards.

Those who are saved by grace through faith and given new life in Christ are moved by God to the other side of the cross. They have been given the life of Christ, become godly in His sight, and are changed and being changed so to be like Jesus. This is the “one way” that Jesus talked about. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Human goodness can look something like fresh reborn godliness, sometimes even better, but it is not the same. Human effort cannot save anyone from sin because it is external. The heart remains the same (selfish and separated from God) and only Jesus Christ and regeneration can change the heart, human nature, and a sinner’s standing before Almighty God.

This is the message of Christmas. Of course God didn’t need a diagram to know that whatever end of the scale a person is on, humanly good or outright evil, each of us needs a Savior. So He sent One.

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
No one is beyond the saving power of Jesus. The person who thinks he cannot be forgiven can be born again. Jesus died for whatever sins that person has done. The person who thinks she is good enough, or that her goodness will save her also needs forgiveness, for her pride if nothing else, and that person can be born again.

Whatever anyone has done (or not done), the good news of Christmas is the same as the good news of Easter: “Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

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