Friday, September 22, 2023

The Depth of Sin (Romans 3)

"As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).

A popular “ice-breaker” question in evangelism is “If you were to die today and God asked you why He should let you into heaven, what would you say?” The most common answer to this question is “I’ve been a pretty good person.” This answer presupposes that the standard of our behavior is ourselves. The Bible, however, teaches something else—our standard is God’s holiness. Those who think they can enter heaven on the basis of their “good works” have a wrong view of their own sinfulness and of God’s holiness. If they could see themselves for the sinner that they are, they would be able to grasp why they cannot enter into heaven on the basis of their own “good” works. We can only come to that realization when we grasp the perfection and holiness of God.

When God created man, He made him holy—in His own image. Sin destroyed that holiness. And as the Scripture tells us “Without holiness, no man can see God.” If we are stripped of our holiness, then we cannot enter into eternal communion with God in heaven. The question, then, is how can we regain the holiness we lost. First of all, the Scriptures tell us that we cannot gain it through our own works. That is because sin has corrupted us to the core. Romans 3 tells us that no one is righteous, and no one seeks God. According to God’s standard of perfection, “no one does good” (Rom. 3:12; Luke 18:18–30; Mark 10:17–31).

People can be deceived into thinking they have been good because they have conformed to the externals of God’s law. But as Jesus proclaimed on the Sermon on the Mount, God requires the law to be kept internally. We must love God with all our heart and all our soul. We must also love our neighbor as ourselves. We cannot even understand what it means to love God with all our hearts, much less act on that love.

The only way we can receive the holiness necessary to commune with God is through the person of Christ. Only He is truly righteous and sinless. Through faith in Him, we are clothed in His righteousness and thus able to see God. And by His Spirit we are being renewed every day, transformed in holiness, until the day we are transformed into glory.

Read Mark 10:17–31. What was Jesus trying to show the young man in this passage? What did the young man assume he had to do to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven? Examine yourself carefully. Do you, in any way, consider your works as means of gaining God’s favor? Self-righteousness is very subtle. Consider carefully.