Walk into most churches and you will find a plethora of euphemisms to describe our condition before God and our need for Jesus. Missing the mark, stuffing up, falling short, making mistakes.
These, and other catchphrases, all describe a very real sense of our insufficiency and need before God. Yet while they paint our condition, they fail to identify the reason for our predicament.
The longer we continue to use these euphemisms, the further we not only drift from biblical teaching, the further we also lose sight of the essence of our very Christian faith.
The Reality of Sin
Throughout his letter to the church in Rome, Paul expressly identifies this need and where it places us before God. In Romans chapter 3, verse 23, he states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
As Paul draws on this language of ‘falling short’, he attributes the cause down to the very issue of sin.
Sin is one of those terms that so easily identifies our need for Jesus, yet holds such wide-spread theological baggage that some churches have avoided the term altogether.
Sin, simply put, describes not only our engrained condition before God, it also reflects our persistent rebellion against Him and that which is right conduct and holy living.
Emphasising the moral depravity and insufficiency caused by sin, in Romans chapter 5, verse 12, Paul states, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”
When we overshadow sin, we begin to lose sight of our very need for Jesus and what He did on the cross. This is tragic. It keeps us from coming to terms with our need for salvation and what it means to be saved by grace through faith.
The Sinning Christian
If this were not enough to deter us from neglecting teaching on sin, the toll it takes on our understanding of grace and the Christian faith should. As Paul progresses in his letter, he begins to speak of the Christian experience of sin, describing the internal conflict prevailing in his every action.
In Romans chapter 7, verses 17-19, he cries,“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
Paul paints this dire image of the unceasing tension in his inner being, where He has received the knowledge of that which is good, yet his desires, actions, and thoughts all wage war against his desire to do good.
This experience is not unique to Paul, it is the common experience of every Christian. While the death of Christ removes the penalty of sin and the Spirit of God liberates us from the power of sin, we cannot escape the presence of sin in our lives.
In response, Paul celebrates the redemption we have from this dilemma in Romans chapter 7, verse 25,“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Speaking practically of the everyday reality of this, Jerry Bridges writes, “Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace” (1994, p. 19).
Our ‘worst’ days are easy to identify. Those are the days littered with the sins we can’t seem to shake, the frustrations we fail to overlook, and the peace we never seem to grasp.
All the more, the beauty of these days reminds us that we are utterly abandoned to the overwhelming sufficiency and satisfaction of God’s grace. For while we are secure in our station as children of God, we are still tainted by our sinful condition.
Our ‘best’ days are harder to realise and deceive us more easily, but they speak equally of the magnitude of grace. Those are the days where we find ourselves more aware of God, more inclined to obedience, and more at peace with the world around us.
Nonetheless, our ‘best’ days are equally utterly dependent and only made possible, not by our doing, but purely by the outpouring of God’s grace. For our ‘good’ days can never be attributed to our own strength or capacity, but any semblance of good solely emanates from God and God alone.
There is no escaping this utter dependence we have on Him, no matter the circumstance. Rather, with the psalmist in Psalm chapter 3, verse 5, let us simply proclaim, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord”. sustains me.”
Hailing from North Auckland, Blake Gardiner sounds American, looks Swedish, but grew up in Laos. As an introvert, Blake lives life on the edge by socialising. When he isn’t putting his life at such risk, he enjoys reading theology and debating whether Interstellar is truly the greatest movie of all time.