In a dream last night, I realized something I’d not seen (or admitted) in the daytime; I’ve a very bad attitude towards another person, even to the point of wishing that person would die. I woke up feeling terrible and not at all happy with myself.
Should I be shocked? I know what God says about sin, but had not recognized this particular sin was in my heart. The Lord drives home the truth of today’s verse:
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
Chambers’ devotional is pointed right at the problem. God’s estimation of humanity is based on the disposition of sin that began with Adam and has permeated all of us. Sin is that disposition to run my own life, be my own god, insist on my right to myself, rather than letting God change my life.
When theologians say that sin is total depravity, they are not saying that people are totally evil, but that this sinful selfishness has permeated every part of us. As Chambers says, this sinfulness “may work out in decorous morality or in indecorous immorality, but it has the one basis, my claim to my right to myself.” It is that selfish disposition that produces sin.
Jesus pays no attention to whether people live according to “all the forces of evil in them” or are “clean living and moral and upright.” Rather than considering the “moral degradation of the one or to the moral attainment of the other” He looks at that sinful nature, that disposition to have my own way, do my own thing, even to save myself as I forget, ignore, or refuse the will of God.
Like the color of my skin, or my DNA, I am born with sin. I can cover it up, but I cannot change it. Only God in Jesus Christ through the Redemption worked on the cross can anyone escape sin’s condemnation.
Sin is a terrible heredity. No one can escape it. We all do sinful things, yet our sinfulness is not the final condemnation. Jesus came to die for our sin and grant us eternal life. Does that mean every sinner is set free from the penalty for rebelling against God? No, because the sins we do are not what separates us from God. To this, Jesus says a most remarkable thing:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:16–19)
When Jesus Christ confronted me more than forty-five years ago, He opened my eyes to what He had done to deliver me from a life of sin and the horror of sin’s consequences. The response called for was putting my faith in Him. Had I had refused, that would be what Chambers calls “the moment I began to get the seal of damnation.” Unbelief and refusing the remedy of Christ’s redemption is what separates sinners from God.
This morning I’m reminded that my sin is covered by the blood of Christ, but I am still fighting that selfish old nature. I’m to abide in Christ and be obedient, but still fight that sinful nature and sometimes go back to running my own life. When I do that, Jesus has this answer:
“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:6–10)
The only remedy for sin after becoming a Christian is the same as it was before I became a Christian: admit that I sin; don’t try to hide it. Confess it to God and He is faithful. Because of Jesus Christ, He stands ready to forgive me, to purge that sinful hatred from my heart, and replace it with His love.
As soon as I do that, my sinful attitude begins to fall away — because Jesus keeps His promises.