In our culture, we are prone to calling our sins as mistakes or indiscretions. In our pride, we want to feel good about ourselves, so we downplay our sin instead of humbling ourselves before the Lord and confessing and repenting from our sins. Until there is a clear understanding of what sin is, how can we know what we are to forsake, and until we turn from it, how shall anyone see in our lives anything any different from what the world is? Dr. Harold Sala’s commentary this morning really resonated with me, so I am sharing it below.
If mankind’s greatest need had been for information, surely God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been for learning how to make money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been for pleasure, surely God would have sent a comedian. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent His Son who became the Savior of the world.
The angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream put it like this: “…you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Three words all relate to each other: sin, salvation, and savior.
Let’s take them one at a time. It is questionable that people have never less understood what sin is than today. Sin has become a taboo which is glossed over by synonyms as “human failure,” “a mistake,” “indiscretion,” or simply, “wrongdoing.” In his book, The Ordeal of Change, Eric Hoffer wrote, “The hardest job in the world is…trying to teach people about salvation…trying to teach them to feel sorrow for their sins… when they have no idea what sin is.”
Many today are like the late Dr. C. E. M. Joad, professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of London, who was characterized as “an annoying, church-baiting agnostic.” “Sin,” he wrote, “I dismissed as the incidental accompaniment of man’s imperfect development.” But as the hideous reality of man’s inhumanity to his fellow-man unfolded in World War 2, and Joad personally saw the stark horror of the concentration camps, he came to disbelieve the fact that sin is a mere evolutionary quirk of human behavior.
Before his death he wrote, “I have come to disbelieve all this. I see now that evil is endemic in man, and that the Christian doctrine of original sin expresses a deep and essential insight into human nature.”
The Bible contends simply that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In simple and graphic terms the Bible says that man’s rebellion against a loving God is the essence of sin which becomes embodied in an unending litany of selfish deeds. But the fabric of sin is the rebellion of the human heart, and for this God sent His Son into the world to bring us back to the Father.
Paul explained, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Peter agreed, saying, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Our failure today to talk about this issue leaves people with an unclear understanding of what salvation is, and what our lives are supposed to reflect. I think of Richard Foster’s charge, saying, “People do not see anything to be converted to. They look around at these Christians telling them to agree to these little statements and then they say, `But you aren’t any different from anybody else. So what am I supposed to be converted to?’ We have to see changed lives.”
Until there is a clear understanding of what sin is, how can we know what we are to forsake, and until we turn from it, how shall anyone see in our lives anything any different from what the world is? That difference is not a legalism of do’s and don’t’s; rather, it is the reality of a changed life because of the indwelling presence of a living Savior. That is genuine salvation.
Resource reading: Romans 3