Here is a quote from an article that I read entitled, “What Is the Gospel?”:
“We may not like the idea of someone identifying us as “sinners,” especially if we use that term to refer only to ax murderers and child molesters. But the Bible says that God is absolutely holy and that all who do not match his perfection are “sinners,” a term that simply means missing God’s standard. If we sin to any degree, we become something other than what God intended (Rom. 3:23; James 2:10). He made us to reflect his holy nature (1 Pet. 1:16). So our faults not only hurt us but also mar our relationship with God (Eph. 4:30).”
I am interested to know what people hear when they read this excerpt. I will give my thoughts about it and would love to hear from others as well.
I see here statements of overall truth, but I am concerned about something that I feel is important. I would ask how bad we think that we “sinners” really are. I agree entirely that all men are sinners, as this statement asserts. However, I do not think it is the best approach to try to prove that by saying, more or less, “If we ever slip up even just the tiniest bit, we are sinners.” That is not really the right message to convey when we want people to realize the sinful nature of man. I hear a little bit too much of that approach in this article, and way too much of it in general. In this article, the contrast is made between the really big sinners (“ax murderers and child molesters”) and the rest of us normal people who are not nearly so bad but are still sinners. We simply “do not match his [God’s] perfection.” We are those who “sin to any degree.”
Now, what is the true condition of the man apart from God who is not an “ax murderer or child molester”? Most people are not these things, you see. Most people, in fact, would consider themselves to be decent folk. And most people would be considered by others to be decent folk. Most people follow a basic morality in many ways. The world is full of “good neighbors” and “good ol’ fellows.” Certainly, we can find those people whom everyone knows to be scoundrels, but that surely does not cover the bulk of people in our society. What do we think about the rest of them, those who follow the law and are generally polite and civil and friendly? Are they really such bad sinners, too? Ok, so maybe they are imperfect and make some mistakes, but don’t we all? And is that really worthy of eternal punishment in hell?
I want to remind us of the actual picture that the Bible lays out for us. The Bible teaches us that those who do not lay down the whole of their lives in sacrifice to God are living in worship of themselves or some other false god. Men might follow the generally accepted morality of society rather well and still be the most selfish and greedy, proud and irreverent men that could be!
What do we think of men who are created by God, sustained every day of their lives through His infinite goodness and mercy, and yet have little or no time to give Him thanks and worship Him truly as He deserves. This is the bulk of mankind. They are not really interested in hearing what God has to say to them and making it their first business to honor and obey Him in what He commands. They are not very interested in submitting themselves to His authority, in humbling themselves before his goodness. They would rather set themselves up against God in rebellion to what He commands. How bad is that, really? This is the condition of mankind.
The Bible teaches us that men are in rebellion against God. They are unwilling to honor Him as God and give Him thanks. And let me suggest to you that this is a heinous and terrible crime.
Consider a young man or woman who grows up in a loving and caring home with excellent parents. That young person then begins to reach a bit more maturity of age and decides that they really have no use any longer for their parents and the home in which they were raised. They decide not to listen to their parents any longer, nor to speak with them or communicate with them. They set out on their own and reject the home that raised them. They do not even show any gratitude for the many years of affectionate care and provision given to them. But, as they enter the world on their own, they show decency and respect towards other people. What kind of a person is this? Is it not rather a wicked person? They scorn and reject the greatest kindness and love that they have received.
Let me assure you, the rebellion in which most men live towards God is as great of a crime as you can name. Men are in rebellion against their Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. God has even sent His very Son to die on the cross on our behalf, and men still live in callous coldness towards all of God’s goodness. It takes a very wicked heart to continue to ignore God’s love the way men do. The only response that could be fitting at all is to give our whole lives to God in loving obedience and service. This is what the Bible calls us to do. Most men, even those “decent folk” that are so abundant, do not do this by a far stretch. And that is the nature of the wickedness that is common to man. All men truly are “sinners,” and that not merely because they make a mistake here and there. Let’s not make the mistake of minimizing and watering down just how sinful the human heart of fallen and rebellious man really is.