One of the most popular misconceptions about Christianity is that, in order to be a Christian, one must be ‘good.’ From the perspective of the Bible, being ‘good’ is something of a dichotomy.
On one hand, the Bible tells us to model our lives after the epitome of ‘good’ by emulating our Lord Jesus. But on the other, the same Bible tells us that actually reaching our goal of being ‘good’ is not possible. Were it possible to be ‘good’, then we wouldn’t need a Savior. Think about it.
God gave mankind ten simple rules for living. None of them seem particularly difficult; love God, honor your parents, don’t steal or murder, don’t bear false witness, be content with such as you have, etc. But the Bible says that not one human being (Jesus excepted) ever managed to keep all ten.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Paul wrote in Romans 3:23.
Having examined the conundrum of mankind and the sin nature, Paul offers this opinion:
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28).
None of us has any difficulty remembering when we were unregenerate sinners. Committing sin was not a problem — it was as easy as falling off a log. Being a sinner wasn’t that big a deal either (as long as you weren’t as big a sinner as some other folks). Then we got saved. Until it was washed away, we never realized how heavy and filthy and debilitating our sin was. Now, we know.
And as saved, Blood-bought, born-again members of the Redeemed Family of God, living in the world, but not OF it, we go through life keeping all Ten Commandments and seldom, if ever, slip back into our sin nature. Where before we would have cursed at the driver who cut us off in traffic, now we bless him and pray for his soul. We never lie, never curse, tithe faithfully, never have a ‘bad’ thought, never want to ‘get even’ with somebody who has wronged us, we pray without ceasing, give all the credit for our successes to God, and never, ever, get angry. Our every waking moment is spent glorifying God for His mercy, and we never speak to anyone without sharing the Gospel with them. God’s love is reflected by us at every waking moment, and we are just as spiritual when we are alone as we are when we are in church.
That describes you, doesn’t it? You are truly blessed! (I wish that it described me.)
But it doesn’t describe me. Unlike many Christians I’ve met over the years, I still struggle with my sin nature. It didn’t vanish when I was saved. I haven’t led a perfectly sinless life since my salvation. I’ve fallen, but thanks to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, I can get up! One could sum up my personal Christian walk thusly:
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”
I know right from wrong, and I want to choose right, and I know that I hate sin, but I admit that sometimes I do what I hate.
What does that mean?
According to Scripture, it means that,
“It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:17-18)
It is our obligation as Christians to spread the Gospel in all the world and lead as many of the lost to Christ as God gives us the opportunity. But lots of times, we don’t feel ‘good’ enough to carry the message. I mean, how does one rail against somebody else’s sin while one’s own sin is ever before them? Has our hypocrisy no limits?
In many ways, the world has a better grasp of the situation than we do. Here’s Joe Christian explaining about sin and death and hell, but the lost guy KNOWS Joe Christian still sins.
Think back to before you were saved. Did you think Christians were all sinless? Or did you think they were all hypocrites?
Admit it. Before you were saved, you used to look for imperfections among Christians. It made you feel better about yourself. Think about the person who finally DID lead you to the Lord. He was probably the one who admitted that Christians aren’t perfect.
As Christians, we tend to preach one kind of Christianity and live another. We can’t live the kind that we preach ourselves, and for the most part, wouldn’t want to.
The average lost person thinks of salvation in terms of what he has to give up instead of what he has to gain.
To the world, a Christian can’t drink, can’t smoke, can’t watch TV, can’t listen to rock music, goes to church every day the doors are open, has to love everybody (especially those he can’t stand), and is generally about as phony as Homer Simpson’s neighbor Ned Flanders.
Why, therefore, would anybody want to be a Christian? Christians not only make it sound like a miserable existence, it is so miserable that even Christians can’t meet the rigors that kind of existence demands.
“Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t even work when you are raising kids.
When we are saved, we are saved from the consequences of our sin; we are not saved from our sin nature. We’d like to think we are, but in order to believe that, we’d have to also have a pathological capacity for self-deception.
Christianity is the essence of freedom, but we tend to present it to the lost as a form of bondage. You can’t do this, you can’t do that, you have to give this up… where is the Holy Spirit in all of this?
It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of sin, and He doesn’t do it all at once. He created us, and therefore He knows our limitations. Salvation frees us from the consequences of sin, but only death frees us from the propensity for it.
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).
The fact is that salvation was designed for sinners. The Bible makes it clear that all men have sinned and that sin is part of our earthly existence. We are to avoid sin, but when we fall, we are to turn to Jesus and allow Him to pick us back up. That is the essence of the Gospel. That Jesus loves us so much that, while we were yet enemies of God, He died for us.
Jesus doesn’t expect us to clean ourselves up first. He says, “Come as you are. I am able.”
“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1st Corinthians 1:8-9).
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).
Don’t let the enemy steal your victory by blinding you with your sin nature. You can still do a mighty work for God. Not because you are able. But because He is.
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2nd Timothy 1:12).
Article from Omega Letters: In the Vault, February 20, 2008.