Why is our sin so hard to see?
Seemingly out of nowhere, I was confronted with the same question every Christian genuinely must grapple with when the real-life fact that their mortal life will end soon, and there is an eternally real result of how we live life here and now.
Why do you deserve to go to heaven?
And even though I know the “right” answer to the question in my head and in my heart- I instinctually gave the wrong answer.
“Well, I’m a good person, I try to live my life like the Lord commands, I try to do the best with what He’s given me in this life,” cue the feeling of YIKES. Back away slowly from this response. Or run away. And grab your Bible because alone we are not good enough and never will be.
If you can’t spot the HUGE problem with what my first instinct was in my response, I’ll look to the Psalms (and Romans) to help break it down for us. Not necessarily because you need it, friend. But because I still do.
“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.” Psalm 14 & 53, Romans 3
This psalm is so important to humanity it gets repeated by Paul in his letter to the Romans. We cannot see ourselves as good. Nobody is good. We cannot “try” hard enough. Our works are worse than nothing to God, they are as Isaiah calls “filthy rags” before Him.
My idea of “good” works will not get me anywhere good.
In fact, my works are deserving of something wholly opposite of good- eternal separation from God. To quote RC Sproul in his course on reformed theology (specifically on total depravity), “You’re a debtor, and you can’t pay your debts.” Which I know- and believe- but why do I keep going back to myself as the proof of my salvation?
I think we all struggle with this to some degree. The failure to see our own sin as eternally grievous as it is to a holy God gives us the false illusion that we aren’t as bad as we actually are. We sit on our hill of self-righteousness and look down at other sins and sinners, thinking at least we’re not as bad as some other murderer, thief, or adulterer.
In reality, we might sit on a tiny mole-hill of being morally better than another person in one way or another, but we are lost in a vast Grand Canyon of lies and self-deceit, unable to see the depth of our separation from God, surrounded by idols who replace God in our hearts and lives but refuse to admit to ourselves while being murderous adulterers in our hearts and minds.
We cannot expect our own works to save us
Any ideas we have of our own goodness are false, because our perspective is warped by sin. In Romans 1 Paul writes, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
We cannot expect our own works to save us because they won’t. We must look up beyond ourselves to the only person who can. Jesus Christ made the only sacrifice that can atone for any sin we have committed, and He is the only way to heaven and eternity with God.
Without saving faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross I don’t deserve to go to heaven.
Cover photo by Daniel Day Media
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