Most us of have said, thought, or at least heard someone else say, “Why do I need a Savior? I’m not such a bad person. I try to do the right thing.”
The Christian who thinks that by answering this question once they have answered it for all time is at great risk.
Betty, a long-time Christian, after a decade of marriage counseling, told her husband, “I’ve had an affair. I’ve quit, but it made me realize I don’t love you. I want a divorce.”
Sam, a successful Christian businessman, got into a cash flow problem. He started “double” charging the charge cards of a few wealthy customers. He’s in jail.
And then there are George, Bill, Linda, the other Sam, Joe, Susan, and all the rest.
HOW DO WE GO ASTRAY?
Most of us have an idealized picture of ourselves – focusing on our strengths and overlooking our weaknesses. Few men could bear the weight of seeing themselves as they really are. That we actually don’t should perhaps be considered a kindness from God.
On the other hand, unless we attempt, at appropriate moments, to remember how much we have sinned we will come to see ourselves as “small” sinners. Small sinners, of course, will only need a small Savior. Or if we forget completely we will see ourselves as “tiny” sinners, perhaps able to save ourselves. Either of these views will eventually lead us astray.
For this reason, it would seem worthwhile for all men – especially those who seem most righteous on the outside – to remember not only who they were, but who they still are. Jesus said, “The time is coming when everything will be revealed…what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from housetops for all to hear.” I hope not. I hope He was using hyperbole to make his point. At least I am glad he didn’t say, “Your thoughts will be revealed to everyone.”
How will this “revealing” happen? We do not know. But I’m sure grace will superintend it so that it is bearable. And let us not forget that everyone else’s secret will also be shouted, so no man will be left standing. We’ll all be knocked to our knees.
THIS IS YOUR LIFE
You may still be asking, “But am I really so bad? I’ve been a Christian for a long time. I’m faithful. I study the Scriptures. I pray. I do good works. I remember the poor. I serve God. I love God.” Of course, you may not be able to say this much, but suppose you can. Now consider that a devil has been assigned to write a newspaper article about you. Could not every one of us be destroyed today with only 300 words?
What if your spouse could read every word that you said about him or her to others? What if your thoughts were exposed? What if your sexual lusts, or merely the temptations you bring upon yourself, were written out for all to see? Would you still want to say, “I’m not so bad.”
What if your children knew how you talked on the job or handled taxes? What if your friends from church heard how you talked about them on the way home after services? What if your best friend knew your private habits? What would your work associates say if they knew how you speak to your mate? Would your reputation be ruined? Of course it would. But it gets worse. If those we love the most knew what we actually thought and said about them, those who didn’t commit suicide would move very far away from us!
Notice that we have only been talking about the present. Let’s consider the past. If the article recalled your ten biggest sins, which of the Ten Commandments would be left untouched? Would you not be humiliated beyond repair? We would see stealing, cheating, adultery, every manner of sexual experiment, addictions, abortions, desertions — but let us stop before we reach the point of despair.
The point is that even the holiest among us has a past and present so riddled with unrighteousness – no matter how hard one might try – that we should have no doubt that we need Something or Someone external to save us from not only the devil, but from ourselves.
So far we have only discussed sins against each other. What about our sins against God? If you attend an “R” rated movie today your ears and eyes will likely be assaulted by a lewd litany from potty mouths who love to discuss and perform sexual acts for their voyeuristic viewers. I fear the devil has had his way with us. We who are Christian become incensed and outraged because they fornicate and use the “f” word, and of course it is repulsive, yet we often have no allergic reaction at all to the vain use of God’s name.
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All of this, though, is not reason to despair. Instead, we should see it as merely the evidence of why we need a Savior.
AS BAD AS YOU COULD BE?
Are you as bad as you could be? Of course not. That is not the question. The question is, “Am I bad enough to bring about my own destruction?” The answer of any reasonable thinking person after imagining his or her own expose must be a resounding, “Yes.”
Does it resonate with you that only when we see ourselves as we really are can we see how much we really need deliverance? When we see that we are not a tiny sinner or even a small or large sinner, but a great sinner, then we will be humbled to look for salvation outside ourselves.
No, I am not as bad as I could be, but I am far worse than I can manage on my own. And that’s now, not just then. When we reach this point of humble despair we cry out, “What must I do then to be saved-today?”
The answer, ironically, is that nothing you “do” will ever make you good enough to be saved. Instead, it is to say, “I cannot. But Christ said he can if I will believe, so I choose to believe by faith.” We need to turn to our Savior every day.
Now one last crucial question: How often should we try to remember how sinful we are? There are two answers. For sins “past” that have been repented, not very often, but occasionally as a gut check. While they have been “forgotten” by God they remind of us of how far we have come and evoke gratitude, humility, and awe of God.
For sins “present” we should remember every day. When we see ourselves as we are, we need not despair. Big sin, big Savior. Remembering is good. Remembering every day is even better. Daily sin, daily Savior.
- How long has it been since you have been made aware of the depth of your sin? Is that hard for you to face? Why or why not?
- On a daily basis, what do you expect from God? Are you looking for him to add some benefit to your nice life, or do you understand your desperate need for a Savior? How could you consider these things on a daily basis?
- Why not say the Lord’s Prayer thoughtfully each day?
We are pleased to offer his book, When Good Men Are Tempted, on the subject of sexual integrity. $10
Bill Perkins is a pastor and well-known speaker, conducting business and leadership seminars across the country. He is a member of the faculty of Man in the Mirror, has spoken at Promise Keeper rallies and appeared on nationally broadcast television and radio shows.