Proverbs 24:16 (CSB) Though a righteous person falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.
Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into great sins and provocations; God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation.
Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them
Ecclesiastes 7:20 (CSB) There is certainly no one righteous on the earth who does good and never sins.
Romans 3:10–12 (CSB) 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; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.
We must always reset base facts. I do this through my writing and preaching because I grew up in the prevalent Evangelical understand, that, although God along saves us, there has to be something in us that caused us to change our mind and turn to Christ.
You want to know what that small thing was? Nothing from yourself but rather, the Almighty Triune God making his home in you. The moment God moved in by exchanging your heart, giving you his Spirit, and cleansing you from your sin, is the moment that you turned to God and believe and trust his Son.
You and I are born sinners. All humans, born of Adam, were born in sin and sin continuously.
Put it this way, unless God made his home in you, then all the church attendance, Christian school, Bible College, seminary, books, conferences, from all time to all time will never convince any of us to trust in God and be saved.
"But", you might say, "doesn't the Bible say, 'Those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved'?" (Romans 10:13) You might even suggest, "Doesn't Jesus Christ command us to repent from sin?"
My beloved, would you agree that calling on the name of the Lord and repenting from sin are absolute good things in this sight of God? (Not a trick question. The answer is undoubtedly yes.) But we just read in Romans 3:10-12 (quoting Psalms 14) that "No one is good--no not even one."
Make that make sense. How can a wicked depraved sinner who cannot possibly do good does good from within the wicked self?
The logical and reasonable conclusion is that the wicked depraved worthless sinner must be made good in order to do good. That is the only way.
Modernity has it half right. Surely, we can study a subject long enought to be an expert. But most Western thinkers have taken it far too far. They think if they can surround themselves with enough Christian things like culture, politics, music, conferences, books, and the like, that we would be good enough to be saved.
But that is not how this works.
Within the discipline of theology proper, there are many other studies:
- Christology - the study of Christ)
- Pneumatology - the study of the Holy Spirit
- Anthropology - the study of humanity
- Soteriology - the study of salvation
- Ecclesiology - the study of the church
- Eschatology - the study of the end times
Of all the studies within theology, one particular study you will see often overlooked and almost neglected would be the study of sin or hamartiology. I longed to see more theologians tackle this subject. But the older I got, the more I realized, in my own futile perception is that it is because of mankind's indwelling sin prevents us from seeing the full catastrophic effects of sin. Why is that? Sin keeps us from seeing the glory of God, and the glory of Christ, and the power of his Spirit and the absolute truth of God. That much is certainly true. Even believers, on this side of heaven, as Calvin once said, our finite minds cannot comprehend an infinite God. So too, our sin-born selves cannot look upon the Most Holy God.
To that end, because of the chaos and death effects of sin, sin has a way of blinding us from seeing sin for what it is. In other words, to try to approach and exhaust the study of sin is a fool's errand because it is our own sin that prevents us from seeing the full effects of sin and therefore, being able to full study it and explain it.
We can write chapters on sin and I am convinced, we will still have huge blindspots. Let me put it like this: if I wrote about sin, I would pretend to be an expect on every sin but I would "conveniently" say little about the sins I particularly struggle with.
And because our personal infection of sin, what is the only thing we can do?
Isaiah 64:6 (CSB) All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.
Even when we try to do good and righteous, we can only do one thing: sin. Our supposed good works are not for God because God is not served by human hands. (Acts 17:25) Even if we truly and graciously help our fellow man (who really need our good works), those works are always tinctured with sin somehow or some way.
So, that is the very least of our sins.
And because of sins, some of humanity, like myself, have fallen into the most vile and heinous of sins.
Romans 1:28-32 (CSB) And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know God’s just sentence — that those who practice such things deserve to die — they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.
Titus 3:3 (CSB) For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
Do you feel that despair yet? Wretched people that we are? Who can save us?
Ephesians 1:3–14 (CSB)
3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.
5 He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
8 that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ
10 as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.
11 In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will,
12 so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to his glory.
13 In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed.
14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.
For what shall we say to these things! God did not look at us trying hard or doing good or with a soften heart or going to church or raising our hands to come forth for prayer.
From eternity past, before Genesis 1:1, God saw and knew our most wicked hearts. He looked up us and had the most pity for our souls. He saw our heinous crimes against him and he had the most compassion. He knew we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and he had nothing but mercy and grace for us.
How do I know this to be sure? Because he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Son of God who is God, to do one thing: to save me from my sins and save me to himself forever.
He took pity on me.
He knows I am made from dust and had compassion for me.
He knows all of my sins and he had mercy on me.
He knows the most wicked depths of my heart but what did he do? As Corrie Ten Boom so perfectly said, "Chirst is deeper still."
Who is like my God and who dares to compare to him? He alone is pure, holy, love, grace and worthy to be praised and adored.
Luke 22:31–32 (CSB) “Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation.
Romans 8:34 (CSB) Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
Titus 3:4–7 (CSB) But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.
Romans 9:15-16 (CSB) For he tells Moses, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then, it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy.
You hear Christ adamantly proclaim this absolutely truth, "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!" (Matthew 4:17)
You hear the Apostle Peter proclaim this truth, "Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)
You know God commands you to repent. But how can he command you to do something you have no power to do it on your own?
Lift your head, turn your eyes upon the Christ. He is the author and perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12:2) He is the one who gives you the faith to repent. (Acts 11:18) He is the one who gives you the faith to believe. (Ephesians 2:8-9) He is the one who gives you the faith to trust. (Romans 10:17)
You are deep in your sins? Take your eyes off yourself because you cannot save yourself! You are a vile and wicked sinner. You need someone good and holy outside of yourself to save you. Every time you want to look to yourself to save yourself, you will only find more sin and more wickedness.
But just like Moses lifted the brazen serpent into the air for the Israelites to be saved from the venomous results of their own sin, so too the Son of Man will be lifted up so that his people can be raised from life, indwelt with God himself, and cleansed from all unrighteousness. It is only then can we turn our eyes upon Jesus and be saved!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace
Helen H. Lemmel