For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God [ Italics and underlining mine] [Romans 3:23].
What does this verse really say?
For me it says we are all sinners…and it would be best to be honest about it.
Bingham Hunter, in his book The God Who Hears, says this is something we all need…personal honesty. God cannot respond to unholiness in His creatures and not admitting to our sinfulness is one of the worst things we can do.
Yet we do it all the time. A large number of Christians are totally preoccupied by what they call “major sins of society” and they feel they can stand in judgment against people who commit those major sins. I call these people the “Jerry Springerites.” If you are a big fan of that show, I apologize, but reactions to the show serve to make my point about the hypocrisy of Christians. I am not even sure that Springer’s guests are real. They tend to have all kinds of aberrant behaviors. The usual script for the show is people are confronted by some of their friends and family members whom they have hurt by their behavior. It could be the spurned spouse, the out-of-wedlock pregnant girlfriend or the abused family member. The whole show is about being honest and accusatory about bad behavior. I have heard several God-fearing folks say “Wow, I may be a bad person, but at least I have not done that! At least I don’t behave that way!”
My response to this is, are you sure you don’t sin just as bad? How can you be sure?
Thank goodness you can hide your sins; they are not on a television program for all to see.
The Apostle Paul is the best antidote for the Christian who is “holier than thou.” Read Romans 1:18 to 3:18 and you will see Paul confronting all Christians with the fact that sin lives in us just like it lives in the non-Christian. If we want further words about our sin, read [1 John 1: 8-10]: “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 sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.”
Bingham says somehow we emphasize that God’s justification of believers is enough for us to have daily holiness, when it is not. We are deceiving ourselves when we take up the mantle of holiness, forgetting that we have our own daily struggle with sin. For us to have a chance to get in God’s good graces, it is best to have personal honesty about our lives. It is also important for us to acknowledge that God knows our failures: He knows our sins, our hearts, our evil intentions even though we have mastered the art of hiding them from those in the world. God knows our intentions.
I wish I could say I have a life without sin, but that is not the case. I have a sin nature that is very real, a sin nature that goes back to Genesis and the original sin in the Garden of Eden. It is the sin all men have. I will carry this all my days. I need God to help me overcome my sin. I need the power of the Holy Spirit to help me fight my penchant toward sin. As I sin, despite my best efforts, I need God’s grace to forgive me as I repent my sin and ask His forgiveness. I acknowledge I have fallen short.
For me to claim I lead a sinless life is an abomination to God for God knows I will reap what I sow. To make matters worse, for me to claim a sinless life or even a holier life than others is shameful. I am not telling the truth to people around me and God knows of my lies.
Two of the most popular verses from the Bible are “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus says that to the accusers who are about to stone the adulterous woman at the well. He confronts the “holy” people with their own sinful natures and they admit they are sinful by leaving the woman at the well without casting a stone. Judge not lest you be judged is in Matthew as Jesus throws down the gauntlet to the “good folk” again; He says if you want to judge others, you will also be judged by that same standard, implying that this will not make you happy. It is so easy to see a speck in someone else’s eye and you cannot see the plank in your own.
Think about those people you see on The Jerry Springer Show. We might look down at them and think we are better than them. As we compare ourselves to them, we might even feel justified in having a positive attitude about our lives with God.
But let me tell you one thing they have going for them. Their sinfulness is in the open. It is real. It is on display for all to see. It is honest, a lot more honest than the holier than thou Christian who presents the false front.
Maybe it is even refreshing as their sins are open for all the world to see.