Since Sunday morning, I’ve been thinking more about my message and the implications of sin and salvation on our spiritual life. I’ve even listened to the sermon again myself. Did I say what I wanted to say, the way I wanted to say it?
I was intentional in attempting to front-load the sermon with a number of Scriptures to demonstrate the weight of our sin. It is no small thing to say we are sinners. It is to acknowledge we are dead. In every way we are helpless before God (which is the point of Jesus in the initial Beatitudes).
I have always appreciated the distinction which I mentioned Sunday morning that no one is as bad as he could be (even the worst sinner can always sin in even more heinous ways); however, every person is affected in every part of his being by sin. That is, there is nothing in him that is perfectly righteous. Everything is tainted by his sin nature. He can do nothing good (read Romans 3). The unsaved man cannot please God in anyway because He cannot do anything for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31), because He does not love God.
Our problem is that we tend (even as believers in Christ) to minimize both the extent and the effect of sin. Because of our propensity to compare ourselves favorably with others — and believing that God grades on a scale and that there are acceptable scores that fall short of perfection — we do not believe that our sin merits the wrath of God. We do not think that the short flash of anger in our eyes at another driver, a derogatory word mumbled under our breath at our co-worker, a bitter complaint about a late newspaper or slow internet connection, a fleeting lustful glance at a woman in the store, or a covetous glance through the Sunday sale papers is enough to merit hell. They are enough. They fall short of the glory of God. Each one of them is enough to condemn us eternally. We must feel that weight.
[Aside: since Sunday I have listened to several of the sermons from the Together for the Gospel conference held last week. Each of the messages have been outstanding, but the ones by John MacArthur (“The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability”) and R. C. Sproul (“The Curse Motif of the Atonement”) both related well to this very topic; together they painted a picture of our complete inability to save ourselves and God’s righteous wrath to judge those who cannot save themselves.]
But we must likewise feel the weight of Matthew 1:21 — Jesus (“God Saves”) came to rescue us from that very condemnation and hell. That is the wonder of the advent of Christ and the cross. God saves means that though we deserve every power that God can exert through His wrath, we get none of it if we trust Christ. God saves means He saves entirely and fully. Previously there was nothing within us that was righteous and for His glory. Now, having trusted Christ, we have His full righteousness and nothing that can condemn us. The transformation is remarkable.
And that transformation means that while we do well to examine our hearts, the foundation of our life and the focus of our life is to live each day grateful and trusting that what He has done is sufficient and He no longer harbors any animosity towards us and that He offers His grace and love with joy, not begrudgingly.
How glorious and significant that brief sentence, “He shall save His people from their sins is!”