I recently had a conversation regarding sin. It started with one person relaying a conversation he had with a lifelong church member. The church member had defined his Christian faith as follows: “I am affirmed and not judged.” That’s nice said the other man, but is that the sum total of your faith? Where does Jesus come in? The first man doubled down. For him, the sum total of his faith was to be affirmed and not judged.
After relaying that conversation, the three of us talked about the loss of sense of sin that currently permeates so many of our churches. I relayed seeing a baptism, where the person being baptized said no more than that she had committed her life to God. The name, Jesus, was not mentioned. Her sins also were not mentioned. For that reason, the necessity of a savior remained unmentioned. I also remembered a conversation I had with a woman who told me she had abandoned her faith. I asked her, “when you say you had faith, did you at any time think that you were a sinner?” She responded, “Of course not.”
1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” This is the starting place. Perhaps we need to tell God that we have denied in us, that which he has affirmed in us. He has said we are sinful, and we have said we are not. Our culture has told us that we are good, but Isaiah 64:6 tells, us “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Indeed, our disagreement on sin is a disagreement we have had with our creator.
The reason so many don’t understand their need for a savior, is because, in their minds, there is nothing from which they need salvation.
They view themselves as people who sometimes slip up and make mistakes. They even view themselves as broken, from which they need healing. They lack meaning and purpose, and so they need a purposeful life. They have wounds others have inflicted on them, and so they need freedom from the burdens they have borne. But they do not define their problem as that of sin, and so they are not in need of a savior.
In short, we need to rediscover sin, for if we do not, we will not come to Christ for salvation. At present, many churches are filled with unsaved people. They would be shocked to hear themselves described in that fashion. After all, they have not seen their greatest problem to be their sin against infinite holiness.
In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable of two men. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee observed his religion with devotion. He fasted and gave tithes. The tax collector was a traitor to his people. He had used his authority to extort money from others and line his own pockets. There they were. The Pharisee and the tax collector, standing side by side at the temple and in prayer. The Pharisee thanked God that he had not sinned like other men. The tax collector didn’t raise his eyes to heaven, and with trembling lips managed only to pray, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Jesus said, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who found acceptance before God. It is still that way today. Failure to admit our sin and confess our sin makes us Pharisees who will have no place in the kingdom to come. It is time to rediscover our sin, lest we lose sight of the necessity of a savior.