Trying to be a Christian?
May 1, 2016
TIRED OF YOUR OLD LIFE?
Did you ever come to the realization that you didn’t like the direction your life was headed? Maybe you decided that you needed to change for the better, perhaps by getting rid of certain habits in your life or attending church. Whatever the case, you felt the need to straighten out your life. Perhaps recently you have realized you don’t like the way things are in your life, and you want to change. How successful have you been in this endeavor? Has it been frustrating? How does God look at your attempts? How good does God want you to live? Today we will find the answers for a life of true freedom, joy, and peace. So let us get on with it!
TRYING TO DO RIGHT
Imagine coming upon an old, rather ugly looking garbage can. With great reluctance you ever so slowly open its lid. Immediately you are hit with the most nauseating stench; it causes your entire body to recoil. Now picture an artist painting the most astoundingly beautiful picture onto the outside of this trash can. Would you open the lid now? “Oh, yeah, right! Not in a thousand years!” you respond.
This is what so many of us have been trying to do with our own lives. The garbage in the trash can represents the sin in our lives. The painting of the garbage can represents our attempt to better ourselves. I trust you see that this is a failure on a grand scale. For in no wise is the all-knowing God going to be fooled by a little spray paint. Indeed, the stench of sin can easily be sensed through that beautifully painted shell. No wonder our Creator says, ...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). No doubt, this is a blow to the human ego.
GOD IS HOLY
Therefore I ask, how close to this garbage can would you like to be, painted or not? “Ah,” you say, “I want nothing at all to do with it!” This is just how God sees your sin. From the beginning of time God said, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:17). This death speaks of separation—separation between humans and God. We know that the first man and woman God created did in fact disobey their Creator-God and eat from this tree. Therefore, all of mankind was plunged into sin and ruin. For we read, Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12). Indeed, God recoils at the stench of sin in our lives and must separate Himself from it, for He is holy.
We must come to understand that God is one hundred per cent holy. It is written of Jesus Christ that He is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26). Just like there is a separation between you and the trash can, so there is a separation between our holy God and sinful humanity. We must conclude that we are like a stinking trash can! We can do nothing to make ourselves attractive to our Creator-God from whom we have been separated because of our stinking sin.
We find in Exodus 20:3-17 things that are sinful, things that are like the filth in the trash can, things like using God’s name as a swear word, bowing to other gods, murder, adultery, stealing, coveting. In Matthew 5:21-22 and 27-28, Jesus expands on this by saying that even if we entertain the thought of wanting to murder, we are guilty as if we had done the sin. Even if we lust after another in an inappropriate way, we are already guilty as if we had done it. There is no doubt about it; our lives are filled with sin, with filthy trash.
NO ROOM FOR PRIDE
We must understand that we are filthy, stinking sinners, and are utterly incapable of saving ourselves. We can do nothing to beautify ourselves before God. Adam and Eve attempted to beautify themselves with fig leaf garments. God did not accept their efforts, for they still stank of sin. Therefore, God provided the remedy—animal skins—to clothe them. From this point on in the Scriptures, we see our Creator-God constantly using animals, especially lambs, as a most striking visual illustration. Time and time again, God shows that there must be death as a consequence of our sin. Time and time again, an animal, in particular a lamb, dies in place of the guilty one who sinned; yet the Holy Bible says that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).
Elsewhere in Scripture we read of a group of people who made it their supreme goal in life to better themselves by following the Ten Commandments plus many other man-made rules. Jesus had this to say to them, Woe to you…hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which OUTWARDLY APPEAR BEAUTIFUL, BUT WITHIN ARE FULL OF DEAD PEOPLE’S BONES AND ALL UNCLEANESSS. SO YOU OUTWARDLY APPEAR RIGHTEOUS TO OTHERS, BUT WITHIN ARE FULL OF HYPOCRICY AND LAWLESSNESS (Matthew 23:27-28) (emphasis mine). Indeed, this is the danger with self-improvement. We can pretty ourselves up by making ourselves appear beautiful outwardly, and yet inside we are still like a trash can full of putrefying filth. No wonder God had such words for these religious ones. For it is also written, For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Heb. 4:12-13). For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7b). You may fool man by looking all spiritual, but you won’t trick God!
A GOD OF MERCY
So then, if fig leaves, animal sacrifices, and efforts to change ourselves are of no use whatsoever, then what are we to do? How are we to be reconciled to God if we have been estranged from Him by our sin? For we must understand the severity of the penalty of our sin. The Bible says, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 14-15). It is written, And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
We have come to see that we deserve the judgement of God for our sinfulness. However, our God is also a merciful and loving God. The Lord is…longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). As we saw earlier, God provided the remedy for Adam and Eve. However, it was not for them alone, but for many throughout the Scriptures, that He Himself was going to supply the remedy. This mercy is offered to us so that we can be reconciled to God once and for all.
At last we come to this Scripture: The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.(John 1:29). Like Adam and Eve and the religious hypocrites, all we can do is try to cover up our sin. However, Jesus came as the Lamb of God to take away our sin. So what did Jesus do? He went to the cross to die. Why did He have to die? The Bible says, The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus went to the cross to pay the full penalty for our sin. In fact, He endured the complete wrath of God for all our sin that we may be pardoned. For it is written, Without shedding of blood there is no remission [forgiveness] (Hebrews 9:22b). This is what Jesus does for all those who place their trust in Him as their Savior, and not themselves. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions [sins] from us (Psalm 103:12). This is good news! Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6). We understand then that none can become Christians by trying to clean up their lives, because their sin has not been dealt with. This is why we need to trust Jesus to be the one who can take care of all our sin and sinful habits. He not only removes our sin from us by paying its penalty by death on the cross, but He also liberates us from being slaves to sin. For it is written, our old man is crucified with Him [Jesus], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:6-7).
EVERYONE WHO CALLS
Let’s briefly sum this up. You need to see that trying to clean up your own life won’t work, for even your best attempts at being good are “filthy rags” in God’s sight. You need to admit that you are still a sinner in need of God’s cleansing. The Bible says, But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Don’t pretend to be righteous or good enough, for God will never be fooled by your fig leaves. Instead, acknowledge to Him that you have failed. Simply do as this verse instructs: For WHOSOEVER calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). Then relax, trusting that what Jesus has done is enough to save you. For God’s Word says of Jesus, Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25). Remember also, Jesus did not stay in the grave, but rose the third day as was prophesied. When we trust Him as our Savior, He comes to take up permanent residence in us by His Spirit. He comes to live the Christian life we could not live. He says that He is the vine and we are the branches. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:5). So then, trust Jesus to cancel your sin-debt, give you victory in your Christian life over sin, and save you from the very presence of sin in Heaven in the future.
So, there’s the good news! You don’t have to try and be a Christian. Rather you actually become one when you trust Jesus, and not yourself, to save you from your sins. You don’t have to try and paint up the garbage can filled with filth. You trust that Jesus will get rid of the garbage and stench. Then, most amazingly, Jesus comes to live in you by His Spirit. This makes you beautiful inside and out. This is amazing grace! Stop trying to better yourself, and let Jesus save you and transform you from a sinner to a saint. Remember, FOR WHOSOEVER CALLS UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD, SHALL BE SAVED. You can count on Him.
To learn more about Victor Reimer and his ministry, you can visit his website by clicking HERE.
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