Lately I’ve been thinking about how sinful we are (read “I am”), and in my time in God’s word, a couple thoughts came to mind…
I lead a bible study at our church on Sundays. We finished the book of Job not too long ago (a great book!) and it occurred to me that there are no examples in the Bible of Satan or other demons actually disobeying a command of God. For example, God tells Satan in Job 1 not to hurt Job physically, and Satan doesn’t. God tells Satan to spare Job’s life in chapter 2, and Satan does. In the New Testament, the Legion demons don’t suddenly “jump ship” and possess the herd of pigs when they see Jesus approaching… they ask for Jesus’ permission first! Satan and the demons submit to God.
Now, compare that with the quality of our (read “my”) submission to God. God draws a line (the Law for example, or anything else He directs me to do or not do), and I step over it. Maybe I didn’t murder, but did I hate my brother? Yes. Did I lie? Yes. Did I drool over the latest technological toy that someone else has? Yes. In one way, this makes me worse than Satan. … and yet the incomprehensible thing is, God still died for me (not the demons), while I was His enemy. God loved, loves, and continues to love me, even though I still say “no” to Him at times! The demons will get what’s coming to them, but I am spared!
Another example of the depth of my sin… God created man in His own image. I believe the refers primarily to man reflecting the character of God (although it also applies in other ways, such as creativity). Someone could look at Adam (before the fall) and know something of the character of God. At least, that was the intent. When Adam sinned, that image was distorted, but was still there somewhat. As a descendant of Adam, I also am a bearer of the image of God, somewhat like an effigy. When I sin, it is like God sinning. This has got to be utterly repugnant to God!
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Then taking the members of Christ, shall I make them members of a harlot? Let it not be!”
– 1 Corinthians 6:15 (Green)
In a sense, my sin is the character assassination of God. Yet, God still shows mercy to me!
One more example… It’s easy to give mental assent to the fact that a sin is a sin is a sin, but I still act like some sins are better or worse than others. It’s easy to take advantage of the freedom I have in Christ (i.e. assert my “rights” as a child of God) and cause someone to stumble (i.e. inadvertantly lead them to sin). But Jesus said it would be better for me to hang a millstone around my neck and be cast into the sea rather than cause a little one (immature believer) to stumble (Mark 9:42). In other words, contrary to what some believe, suicide is not the worst sin! I know I’ve said things in the past (hopefully not lately) that caused some to sin…
I can only comprehend God grace to me in as much as I comprehend the depth of my sin. The more I see how bad I am, the more I’m in awe of God’s love and mercy towards me!
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”
And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
– Luke 7:41-48 (ESV)