God tells us, through the Bible, that we are all sinners. People don’t like to bandy that word – sinner – around much anymore; they think it’s too exclusive, too offensive. “Sin” is simply “missing the mark.” God sets some pretty high standards for behavior, so it’s much easier to “miss the mark” than to do everything right every time.
For example, take the Ten Commandments, just a small portion of the rules – what’s called the Law in the Old Testament – that God gave us to live by, so that (believe it or not) we could more thoroughly appreciate His love for us, and live long and happy lives. But we don’t listen; we want to do things our own way. We miss the mark.
A lot of people, especially so-called “professional Christians,” tend to act like they’ve got it all together, or they never stumble. That’s a crock. We all make mistakes. We all fail. Nobody’s perfect. In Romans 3:23, the Apostle Paul tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Did you see that? All have sinned. Nobody has ever lived up to God’s expectations… except one man.
Because He loves us – each of us, individually – so much, God sent His Son, Jesus, to us to show us the way to make up for our shortcomings, to redeem us to the high standards God set for us. You see, an infinitely good God cannot abide the presence of evil in His sight. Aesthetically speaking, it would be like a black stain on a pristine white sheet, something you just can’t take your eyes off of, something that detracts from the beauty of the sheet. Jesus never did get any stains; Jesus never sinned. Jesus was holy, and without blame before God.
All of our promises, all of our bargains, all of any effort we could possibly make in our own behalf, could never make up for the things we do. It’s the “poison fruit of a poison tree” argument; because we’re imperfect, everything we try to do to make up for it, in God’s eyes, is doomed to fail. Only Jesus could have made up for our mistakes, because only Jesus is perfect. Only Jesus never once missed the mark.
Because He is perfectly good, God requires us to be perfectly good, too. So somehow, we have to bridge the gap between our imperfect humanity and God’s perfect holiness. That gap was bridged by Jesus in His death on the cross. Jesus died to pay our debt to God. Jesus, who never sinned, became our sin on the cross, so that we, imperfect, faulted, broken humanity, could be counted perfect in God’s sight. He paid our price, so that we wouldn’t have to.
But that wasn’t the end of it. If He had just died, He would have been no different than the rest of us, really. He could have been a good man, a “Good Teacher,” but not holy God. If He had just died, His death would have meant nothing. But three days after His death, Jesus rose again. This showed that God is Lord of All Things; God rules over the entire universe, and is in control of everything: a sovereign Lord even ruling over even death and the grave. And it also showed us all that He will not let death claim us, if we but believe on Him.
It shows that Jesus is Lord of everything around us, but what He wants is to be Lord of our hearts. This way, He can give us all what He has: eternal life, and the eternal presence of the Father. He wants us to die, as He did, to the old ways of the flesh, and arise in the newness of a life in Him.
There is a sea change in your heart when the realization comes to you that you’re not alone.
But, what to do about it? Now that you know that all have sinned, that nobody is any better than anyone else, what do you do with that knowledge?
A lot of people like to say that God loves all of humanity. I’d like to part with that: God loves each of us. He’s not looking at the whole of the human race and thinking, “Boy! What a great bunch of people they are!” He’s sitting on His throne, wondering at the inherent beauty in each and every one of us, and longing to be reunited with each and every man, woman, and child.
If that’s true, you may ask, then why doesn’t He come to us and have done with it? That would be cheating. God’s very nature is such that He cannot abide the presence of wickedness. Evil is by definition the absence of good: we divest ourselves of goodness by the decisions we make; we were the ones who walked away from Him, so we are the ones who must decide to be reunited. Anything less, and He would be compromising His holiness. He would no longer be God. And God cannot change.
So if everything we do is tainted, how can we ever hope to make amends? We can’t. But, since God so deperately loves us and wants to be reunited with us, he has provided a Way:
You have to acknowledge your depravity before God: admit that you are a sinner by nature, and repent for your sins. Repent just means “turn away from,” so this essentially means you acknowledge you’ve been wrong in the past and don’t want to keep doing the things you’ve been doing.
Ask for forgiveness. We spend nearly every day of our lives offending God, and pridefully telling Him we don’t need Him, that we know better than He does. We cannot go on living this way, and only He can relieve this awesome burden.
Confess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior; admit to God that you accept Christ as the only means of reconciling yourself to Him. He is the only vehicle that can bridge the gap between perverse man and holy God.
Invite Him into your life, into your heart. Acknowledge that His guidance is necessary, that you cannot hope to make it on your own. Each of us has a God-shaped hole in our hearts, one we all ultimately attempt to fill with other things: work, money, sex, drugs, possessions, family. Only by seeking God’s love and submitting to His authority in our lives can we ever find true peace.
Christianity is not about pushing your beliefs on others. It’s not about making a theocracy in America, or anywhere else. It’s not about showing up on Sunday and making sure you put your money in the plate. It’s not about piety, or religiosity, or showing everybody else that you’re morally superior to them.
Jesus desparately wants to have a relationship with you. He’s willing and eager to get to know you, to have you know Him. He wants to bring you to Him, and to spend eternity with you.