Humans do not become sinners, but are, instead, by virtue of being part of the fallen human family, innately sinful from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5).
Previous Post: Dead at Conception
Previous Post: Dead at Conception
Once a week I have the wonderful opportunity to teach a group of 11-12 year olds about God and the Bible and what Christianity is really about. Recently, I challenged their views on how God sees each of them and I believe God blessed many with a fresh realization of the GOOD NEWS!
I started the class by asking them why Jesus came. Quickly, and somewhat expectedly, I got the answer, “To die for our sins.” I agreed, but wanted to expand on this truth. The verse that came to my mind was 2 Cor. 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” and I wrote it on the board. I then explained its meaning and, although everyone seemed satisfied, I wanted to see if they really understood what it meant to them individually. So, just as we had agreed upon in previous sessions, I had them again recognize that we have all sinned and still often do sin. And, that in fact, we had all probably fallen into sin a number of times over recent days.
Sinner or Righteous
Then, I wrote two headings on the board, RIGHTEOUS and SINNERS. I asked if Jesus were to return today and separate the RIGHTEOUS from the SINNERS, would they know what group they belong to. It seemed without a blink that each put themselves in the group of SINNERS. Now, I am sure that among them there were some not yet born again and that answer would be true for them. However, the believers among them also classified themselves as SINNERS. It seemed, both groups needed to hear the GOOD NEWS again. The SINNERS for salvation and the RIGHTEOUS (who called themselves SINNERS) for realization of what they had received in Christ.
Undoubtedly, the focus that the Christians in the group had was on their behavior rather than on their pardon for sin and new identity in Christ. And, the non-believers probably had a blurred grasp of the GOOD NEWS. Using the above verse I again explained the good news, only in this instance I took the time to show them what the verse really meant to them PERSONALLY. I showed that Jesus who hadn’t sinned actually became SIN, that all of our personal sin and that of the world was put upon Him. And, that He did this, so that we could be called RIGHTEOUS and not SINNERS anymore. That’s GOOD NEWS!!!
Three Men Crucified
Then, to bring it home, I spoke of the three men who had been crucified (Jesus being one of them) and how the whole message of the GOOD NEWS for mankind is seen played out through what happened. In the middle was Jesus, having been charged as a criminal along with the other two criminals. Yet, we know that Jesus hadn’t ever sinned. One of the criminals scoffed at Jesus, not realizing who He was. The other one, realizing who Jesus was, turned to Him and said, “Remember me when YOU come into your kingdom.” We agreed that he had been a bad man, a SINNER, as he even said of himself. And yet, despite this, Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”
What happened at the cross then was that three died. One, a criminal, a SINNER, and he died a SINNER. In the middle was Jesus who was RIGHTEOUS, but who was made to be SIN and He died as a SINNER. Then on Jesus’ other side was another criminal, also a SINNER, who recognized that through Jesus, God was offering pardon for sin and a new life. Through faith in Jesus he was made RIGHTEOUS.
Will Good People Go To Heaven
The general idea that most of the 11-12 year olds seem to have had is that although we all do wrong, “good people” will go to heaven. This is typical of how many people think. Yet, “good people” are also SINNERS and as such don’t qualify. What everyone does qualify for is God’s wrath. Not wanting to pour this out on us, God instead poured it out on Jesus, so that we could be freed. The response of these two criminals (with Jesus in the middle), in a way, represent everyone.
It seems that entrenched into many church members is the idea that as Christians we are SINNERS, but the message of Christianity is that through believing (realizing and receiving) who Jesus is, and what He did for us, we are made RIGHTEOUS.
Concerning remedying your sinful behavior, don’t focus on being right-and-wrong-conscious, but rather be sold out to God with all of your heart and mind. Being right-and-wrong-conscious can put the emphasis on behavior where you might try to rectify things yourself and not fix the real issue of living from the wrong source. You see, when living from the Spirit, you won’t be occupied with wrong things anyway, because He automatically does what is right.Now, while it has been said that sin and addictions are best resolved by replacing the negative activity with better ones, unless I am living from Jesus as my source, it’s inevitable that I’ll succumb to further sin or addiction. Ultimately, there’s only one satisfying and meaningful way of life and that is living in a Spirit-filled relationship with God.
In believing in Jesus, the issue of righteousness (standing acquitted before God) is settled at the cross once and for all and no amount of error on my part can untangle that. Not only am I acquitted for life, but I am placed into Christ’s death and resurrection, immediately dying to sin and to God’s law, and rising again to a new life. I am born again and made into a new person. And, what’s more, I am joined irreversibly to Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to live in me, giving me the ability to do what I used to fail to do. He also comes teach me and enable me to live the life that Jesus has planned for me.
Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension have made forgiveness of our sins, re-birth to a new life and His empowering of us possible so that we can have productive lives for God’s kingdom. Only, I need to remember that I cannot live apart from Him as my source. In actual fact, living from Jesus as my source is my sole purpose in life. It’s in Him that I get His vision for my life and His strength to carry it out.
So, focus on building your relationship with God as your new source of life. Then, if you should sin, and you probably will, simply recognize that you have lost touch with God as your new source of life and start relying on Him again. Remember, as far as our sin is concerned, both God’s wrath and the law have been satisfied through Christ’s death so that we can be free to enjoy life by the Spirit. No matter how often you fail don’t let your errors stop you. Rather relish in the abounding mercy and grace that there is to pick you up and empower you to succeed again.
So, living in the Spirit is the Bible Code for Life. “…we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom 7:6 ).
(If you haven’t yet, THE GOOD NEWS is that you can receive Jesus as your savior. He is God’s free gift to acquit you from sin and give you a new life in the Spirit. This, despite the life that you have led, because He loves you! You see, the Bible says in 1Timothy 1:15, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …” Go to God and ask to be forgiven and for a new life in Him).