“You cannot out sin the grace of God.”
As I sat in the smoke-filled garage those words seemed to echo in my mind more than anything else said to me that night. After many tough talks with my cousin, I was starting to realize the depths of the grace of God. You see, my life for the last seven years had been one that was filled with drug use, alcohol abuse, violence, and atheism. I had for all intents and purposes lived a life that rejected the Lord in every way. From denial of His existence to the rejection of His morality, my life was spent running from Him. For seven years. So, hearing someone tell me that the Lord was still seeking me in the depths of my depravity was refreshing.
This is the story for many. I’m sure that you can think of someone even as you are reading this that has a similar story of redemption or has a similar story of depravity that desperately needs the Lord. Often when we think about those in our lives that are far from the Lord, are struggling with drug addiction, or struggling with various other sins that we deem to be worse than others, we are quick to say something like “that boy needs Jesus.” While that is true, it gives insight into an unfortunate reality of the way that many understand the Gospel.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that these people do not need the Gospel. As someone that was in a situation where everyone around me was saying “that boy needs Jesus,” I would never deny the importance of the Gospel. However, we must realize that the need for the Gospel doesn’t begin when someone takes their first bump of cocaine. It is something that all of us desperately need.
When we think about sin we have this insane need to categorize them. It’s almost as if we have this idea that God will give us a grade and that will determine whether we will go to Heaven.
“You stole some stuff from work, lied to your wife, and looked at porn. You didn’t sling meth to middle schoolers, and you never killed anyone though. B+. Congratulations! You made it to heaven.”
Sure, we laugh at the thought, but it’s much closer to the way most people think about the Gospel than we may want to admit. According to the State of Theology Survey by Ligonier Ministries from 2020, 65% of people agreed that “Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.” 7% were unsure and only 28% disagreed with that statement.
Why is this a problem? Because this is something that the Bible is clear on. While several things in the Bible are not as clear-cut, this is not one of them. The Bible is explicit when it comes to the sinfulness of man.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” –Romans 3:23
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin, my mother conceived me.” –Psalm 51:5
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” –John 3:19
These are just a few of the verses that show the depths of our sin, and these are verses that we all need to be reminded of regardless of where we think we are.
With this in mind, we need to have an honest discussion about salvation and what that means for us. The average person isn’t going to rob a bank in their life. Most people will never have an addiction to drugs or will never be prostitutes. Most people will never go on a murderous rampage through the town square or beat their children. Most people will argue that they are good people because they are comparing their sense of goodness to those around them. It is easy to consider ourselves to be good when we have Hitler to compare ourselves to.
The Lord doesn’t demand a level of perfection based on those around us or how the culture defines good. No, that is not what we see in the Bible. What we do see in the Bible is that the Lord demands a level of perfection based on His concept of good. That is something that we will never be able to achieve on our own.
The Bible is clear on this. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are; we are all born in a state of condemnation (John 3:18). As such, we all stand condemned before God. This isn’t something that happens because of our actions. To say that we are sinners because we sin is to get the cart before the horse. We sin because we are sinners. This is who we are. We are born in a state of condemnation, conceived in iniquity. This is our natural state.
John 3:17 states that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but rather to save it. Why? Because, as we see in verse 18, we are already condemned.
This isn’t about some drug addict or murder sitting in prison.
This is about you.
The dad who coaches his son’s football team.
The college student who volunteers at the animal shelter.
The soccer mom.
You may not have killed anyone. You may have never touched drugs in your life. But you have lied, and that is an offense to God (Colossians 3:9). You have hated someone in your heart, which 1 John 3:14-15 says is the same as murder. These things, while the world may see them as small, are still sins. These sins still need to be atoned for.
The “big sins” are abnormal. We are often insulated from these and very rarely encounter these in our life. As such, we have developed this idea that these things are the deal-breakers, and my sin is okay because it’s not like them. Not only is that a lie that we tell ourselves to comfort us, but it shows just how prideful we are at the heart of the issue. If we are to ever know how deep our need for a savior is, we need to understand why we need a savior.
This isn’t about someone else. This is about you. YOU stand condemned before God. Not just the murderer. Not just the rapist. Not just the drug dealer. YOU.
Apart from Christ, there is only condemnation.
The only way that we can experience eternal life, whether you are a school shooter, or a soccer mom is to repent of your sins, both “big” and “small” and turn to Christ.
Apart from Him, there is no salvation. Regardless of what you have done, and what you haven’t done.