In seeking to understand the good news of the gospel, it is necessary to first understand the bad news of our condemnation. For the harsh fact is that your sin and my sin is the central issue before our holy God. Since that is the case, we need to understand something of the nature of sin.
First of all, we need to understand that it is not the degree of sin that condemns me, but it is the fact of sin that condemns me. God does not grade on a curve, such that a moderate amount of sin is allowed, but that a lot of sin demands a recompense. The Bible teaches that one sin merits eternal condemnation. The proof of that is that Adam was condemned for his first sin. In eating the fruit, Adam sinned against God and was thus banished from the Garden of Eden and was separated from God. Not only this, but Paul makes clear that God’s judgment on mankind arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation (Romans 5:15). Adam’s one transgression plunged the entire world into sin. One sin is all it takes to condemn me. Therefore I cannot say, “I may be bad, but I’m not as bad as some people.” I may be condemned for a few “small” sins or condemned for many blatant and big sins, but the result is the same. Condemned is condemned, and this is not a question of degree. If there is one sin on my record, one transgression against one of God’s holy commandments, then I have earned eternal condemnation. There is either perfect righteousness or there is condemnation for my sin and there is no in between.
We must understand that God’s standards are absolute. Man’s standards are relative and are lenient, but it is not before man’s throne that you must appear. You are either perfectly righteous or you are a sinner and are utterly ruined, and there is no third option. Are you perfectly righteous in God’s eyes? Have you lived in perfect obedience to God’s holy laws? You will stand before God’s throne, God’s judgment seat (Romans 14:10) and in that moment your righteousness will be compared to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. How does your righteousness compare to the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ?
Many people will say, “Surely if my good outweighs my bad, then God will accept me and I will go to heaven.” The God of heaven, however, does not have scales, but judges in absolute terms. For the Bible declares, “The soul that sins, it will die,” (Ezekiel 18:4) and “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) There is no verse in the entire Bible that gives a sinner any hope that he can earn his way to heaven by doing good works or that any number of good works will somehow count more than his sin. In fact, the Bible says just the opposite: “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” (Isaiah 64:6) Have you ever sinned against God? Have you ever broken even one of His commandments in thought, word or deed? Your only hope for heaven is the complete absence of any sin. If that does not describe you, then you are condemned for your sin.
Many people will say, “I think I’m basically a pretty good person,” but the Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one,” (Romans 3:10) and “The heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately sick,” (Jeremiah 17:9) and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The question is not whether you are “basically a pretty good person”, but the question is whether you are a perfectly righteous person or not. Have you lived a sinless life of perfect obedience to God’s laws? If not, then you are unrighteous and are condemned.
The Bible sometimes speaks of people who have leprosy. In Bible times, leprosy was as feared a disease as cancer is for us today. The Bible also uses leprosy as a picture of sin. How so? A person would examine their skin in search of an open sore, which would indicate they had leprosy. If there was one spot of leprosy, it meant that the person’s entire body was full of leprosy. The disease had spread that far. This is analogous to sin. You can be assured that if there is evidence of any sin in a person’s life, it means that their entire life is contaminated with sin. The disease has spread throughout your life. The point of the illustration is to show that, if you can find evidence of any sin in your life, then it means that there is sin throughout your life. In the Bible it says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10)
The point of this discussion is to show that mankind has a terrible problem. Each one of us has sinned before the holy God of the universe and we are thus condemned. The fact that I have sinned against God and have violated His holy commandments means that I am under His condemnation. It is from this terrifying situation that I must be rescued. The building is on fire and I must find a way to escape the flames. I must be rescued or I will perish and will spend eternity enduring God’s righteous wrath for my sin.
What is the answer to this terrifying dilemma? The answer is to repent of your sins and to run to Jesus Christ in faith, asking Him to cleanse you of your sin and asking Him to save you. Jesus lived the perfectly sinless life that is required by God’s holiness and is required by God’s holy law and Jesus died the death that sin required so that those who place their faith in Him will receive His imputed righteousness and will have their sins forgiven.
If you have ever sinned, you are condemned by a holy God. Regardless of the extent of your sin or the degree of your sin, the fact of your sin condemns you. Therefore, you must fly to Jesus Christ to be saved from your sin.
SDG rmb 7/10/2016