The Standard July 21, 2022
“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’” (Luke 5:30-32) While we might like to consider our natural spiritual state as healthy, the truth is that apart from God, all of us have a sickness we cannot overcome.
The Apostle Paul describes the universality of sin. “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24) It does not take much introspection regarding our natural tendencies to discover that attitudes and desires often veer towards the trajectory of self-fulfillment.
The wonderful news is that God helps those who can’t help themselves. All of us fall into this category. No amount of trying to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps or attempting to make ourselves clean and presentable ever could put us in right standing with the Lord. Being “good” never could be good enough. Even at our very best, we are unable on our own to meet God’s standard of holiness.
“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone.’” (Mark 10:17-18)
The first three verses of both Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 say almost the exact same thing. Paul quotes them in his letter to the Romans. “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.’” (Romans 3: 10-12)
We are not left without a solution to the problem of sin touching all areas of our lives. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Some liken God’s offer of salvation to a life preserver being thrown our way while we’re struggling to stay afloat in the ocean. They say that all we have to do is reach out and hang onto the flotation device. The reality, however, is more like us being lifeless at the bottom of the ocean floor. We could not grab or hold onto a life preserver. In no position to help ourselves, God seeks us out, scoops us up and breathes new life into our lungs. This truly is the most gracious gift.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them as one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2: 1-5)