I’m not really that bad -am I?

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“We’re all sinners.”

We’ve all heard it. And we all believe it -well, we mostly believe it.

Sadly, we usually hear this as an excuse: “I’m a sinner, you’re a sinner. What are we going to do about it? Stop judging! No one is perfect after all.”

The Bible is pretty clear regarding our sinfulness. Here’s one of the most often quoted Scriptures (Romans 3:10) in context:

“as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.’ ‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’

‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’

‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;

in their paths are ruin and misery,

and the way of peace they have not known.’

‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.'” – Romans 3:10-18

Shocking, isn’t it? And there are many many more sad descriptions of humanity’s sin just as shocking as this one.

“Well, wait a minute,” we protest. “That doesn’t sound like me! After all, I tip my server. I return my shopping cart -even in the rain. I pick up litter. I hold the door for the person behind me. I let people into my lane.”

Wait a minute. Who are we arguing with? Our Creator gave us a diagnosis and our first reaction was to justify ourselves.

God knew we would do that. It’s for this very reason that He inspired the next verse:

“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” – Romans 3:19

He is telling us that at least one purpose of His law is to reveal our sin and stop our excuses on Judgment Day.

Just take a look at the 10 Commandments and see how you measure up. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; the Bible has much more to say.

“Well yes, but God knows my heart.”

Yikes! And that’s supposed to comfort us?! Yes, He does know your heart. He knows every evil thought. He knows every bad and selfish motivation. He even remembers what we’ve thought of and then forgotten. He’s not fooled by our righteous veneer.

And it gets even worse. He even counts good deeds that we should have, but didn’t do against us!

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17

As pastor Charles Spurgeon said,

“If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him. For you are worse than he thinks you to be.”

So why be such a downer?

Because I want to frustrate you. I want you to give up.

I want to frustrate your plans to depend on your own righteousness for your salvation. I want you to give up on trying to earn your way to Heaven.

I want you to to depend wholly on Jesus.

The more we realize our failures, the more we long for the perfection that comes only in Christ. Or as Galatians 3:24 says “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

Trust me, friend; awareness of our sin is a blessing if it leads us to faith.

The old Puritan pastor, Richard Sibbes encouraged us not to shy away from awareness of our sin. As he said,

“There is more mercy in Christ then sin in us.”

An appreciation for, acceptance of, and passion for the Gospel actually requires a deep awareness of sin.

After all, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

As Tim Keller has said many times,

“The Gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

And again,

“The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.” (from The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism)

At the age of 82, John Newton, author of the hymn Amazing Grace said,

“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner — and that Christ is a great Savior!”

When our memory is nearly gone, may we remember these same two things so that we may still find grace amazing indeed.