Friday, May 15, 2009

The Fact of Sin - and The Gift of God

We are – by nature – sinful. I know that it’s not popular to say so. I can understand that. None of us like to be reminded of what we’ve done, what we’ve said. We’d rather keep those thoughts a secret, and it would suit us better if those whispered words stayed behind closed doors. I’m sure none of us would object if it were possible to make sure that every hidden sin stayed hidden – forever. But that’s just not the way it is.

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.

I am part of the “all” in this verse. Are you? (hint: the correct answer here is “yes”). There has only been one, ever, who has lived a life completely free of it. That One was Jesus Himself. The Son of God. Nobody else has ever succeeded – could ever succeed – in living completely without sin. So, where do we go from here?

We have several options.

We can choose to ignore the fact that we fall short. We can tell ourselves that we are good. Maybe we’re “better” than the people around us, and because of that… well, maybe because of that, God will accept us. Maybe, in spite of our imperfection, we’re good enough. And maybe, since we’re better than a lot of people, we’re actually okay. Right?

Romans 3:9 – Well then, are we superior and better off than they? No, not at all. We have already charged (determined, seen) that all men, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin, held down by and subject to its power and control. As it is written, “None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one."

Romans 3:27,28 – So do we have a reason to brag about ourselves? No! And why not? It is the way of faith that stops all bragging, not the way of trying to obey the law. A person is made right with God through faith, not through obeying the law.

Hmm. I guess that means maybe we are in trouble. Maybe we really are being held captive by this sin. Maybe we need help. And maybe, if we really consider it, we really aren’t good enough.

But where does that leave us? What can we do? If we are sinners, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change that, what hope do we have?

Romans 3:21-22, 2 – But God has a way to make people right with him… …and He has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about. God makes people right with Himself through their faith in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:7-8 – In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Romans 5:20 – All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life – a life that goes on and on and on.

Okay. So, He made a way. He made a way for sin not to utterly destroy us. That’s great news, right? But what do we do with it? How do we make it work? How do we use it?

Colossians 2:11 – Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in – insiders – not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin.

Romans 3:22-25 – God makes people right with Himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by His grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from Sin through Jesus Christ. God sent Him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus’ death…

What receiving forgiveness look like? What does this “faith” look like, and how do we do it?

1 John 1:9 – If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just, true to His own nature and promises, and will forgive our sins, dismiss our lawlessness, and continually cleanse us from all unrighteousness – everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action.

It really is that simple. If you’ve already “done this” – if you’ve given yourself to Him, if you’ve accepted His sacrifice, you already know. You know the peace, the joy… the hope. If you haven’t done this, if you haven’t accepted this gift, will you do it today? Will you do it now?

Do you believe that God is God? Do you believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is His Son? Do you believe that Jesus came to earth as the fully human, and yet fully God, child of a virgin girl? Do you believe that He was crucified on a cross, and He died to pay the price for every sin that had been and ever would be committed? Do you believe He was laid in that borrowed tomb, and three days later, rose from the dead? Do you believe? Will you take that chance?

If your answer is yes, I would ask that you do something about it right now. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. I invite you to stop everything else you are doing and give these next few moments to the King of all eternity.

Will you?

Let’s pray together…

“Lord, I know I have sinned. I’m not perfect. It’s easy for me to think I’m better than other people. Easy to hope that maybe I really am “good enough” to make it without You. But I know that’s not true. I know that I really cannot do this myself. I know that I’ve messed up in the past, and I know I’ll do it again.

I’m flawed Lord. I’m incomplete, broken, and unable. Thank You for helping me to see that. But Lord, You said that there is a way for me. You said that if I confess my sins, you’ll forgive me.

I’m confessing them now, Lord… confessing the lies I’ve told, the hatred I’ve let grow inside me. I’m confessing the hurtful words I’ve said, the promises I’ve broken, and the pride I have inside. All of it Lord, I’m confessing. I don’t want to stay the same – I want to honor You.

You said in Your Word (Romans 10:9-10) that if I will believe in my heart and confess with my mouth, I will be saved. I do believe. I believe that You are the Son of God. That you died on the cross for my sins. That you were put in the tomb, and three days later, you rose again. And I believe that sacrifice paid for my sins – the sins I’ve already committed, and the sins that I know I will commit in the future.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for loving me. For saving me. I am giving myself to you today, knowing that I can’t ignore you any more. I am trusting you to save me, to make me whole, and to wash away the stains that my sins have left on me. I know that some things will have to change, Lord, but I also know that You are with me. I know that You will help me, and will show me the way.”

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