Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
~ 1 Timothy 1:15-16 ~
Why did Jesus come in the flesh to earth? Was it because we were living good lives? Was it because we had finally reached spiritual perfection? Was it because we donated enough time, money, and resources to others? Was it because never lied, cheated, stole, coveted, or lusted? Was it because we were already righteous and sinless? Do we not need God because we are already perfect? The answer is obviously ‘no’, and yet often the phrase “I’m a good person” or “they are good people” is used. This can be used interchangeably between either christian or unbeliever, yet both are equally sinful. The Psalmist says this:
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth int he inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
~ Psalm 51:5-6 ~
We are by nature sinful and unclean as children of Adam. Those who do not know Christ should not be expected to know this. As we were, they are dead in their sins and trespasses and God desires for them to also have a knowledge and faith in Him. But this is to us as well, dear friends in Christ. Why should we call ourselves, or anyone, good? We know that we are explicitly not good. Here, the Psalmist asks that he be cleansed and washed of his sin, that a pure heart to be made within him, and for the Holy spirit to remain with the hope of salvation (Psa. 51:7-12). We are by nature sinful and unclean. Why, then, would we claim to be sinless?
It is a false idea that without Christ we can be ‘good’. Indeed, what did the opening verse state? That Christ came to save sinners. Thus, if we claim to be without sin, then the truth is not in us and we negate the Lord’s sacrifice and salvation for our souls, a salvation that is desperately needed. We say that He did not come to save us.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinner, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in out lives.
~ 1 John 1:8-10 ~
Are we to think that we are any better than the ungodly? We are sinners saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). All mankind is under sin, both Jew and Gentile. Again I say: all people are under sin.
What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are under sin. As it is written, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understand, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
~ Romans 3:9-12 ~
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
~ Romans 3:22-24 ~
I make this point because, although we have been made perfect in Christ, we must not think of ourselves more highly than we ought; we should not try to justify ourselves (Rom. 12:3). I say this because we have been saved by God’s grace and justified freely in His love. We did not have to do anything. We have been made, we did not do the action. Just as we are baptized and do not baptize ourselves, so too do we neither work to be good but are being made holy. It is Christ who justifies; we neither need to nor should try to justify what we do. After all, any good work that might be counted as good is evil in God’s eyes without Christ. It is He who works good through us. Christ came to call and save sinners (Mat. 9:12-13).
And this is not a bad thing! Yes, we are sinful and unclean and we sin daily. But how much better is it that Christ came to save sinners! He did not leave us to be dead in our trespasses and sins, which we daily ask forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer, but GOd “who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ” out of His love for us! (Eph. 2:1-5)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
~ Ephesians 2:8-10 ~
This is why we need to neither worry nor be boastful. Christ made His atoning sacrifice for us. We are His “workmanship”; He is not ours. Because of this great work He did in us and for us, our response should be to serve Him with our works. Not because they save us or make us ‘good’, but because we do so out of love and praise for our Savior, Creator, Lord, and God. And among these works, we should go into the world to tell others of the Savior who came to save all people and bring them into His kingdom.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteousness man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
~ Romans. 5:6-8 ~
This is our blessed mystery. We were dead, broken, worthless – sold as slaves to sin. And yet, Christ, rich in mercy, took it upon Himself to redeem us, buy us, and adopt us to sonship so that we might share in the riches of Christ with Him eternally. He loves us enough to die and then rose again that we might live (John 3:16). Jesus came to save sinners, and that is what we are. He made us holy, good, and pure in God’s eyes. This is a good man, our God. This is love.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
~ 1 Timothy 1:17 ~
Blessings to you and yours,