Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Chasm of Self-deception

I John 1:8–10
“If we claim not to have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, then, since He is trustworthy and just, He will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing.” 

In order to be in a right relationship with God, we must understand who we are and who God is. Compared to the holiness and awesomeness of God, we are blackened by selfishness, pride, deceit, malice, bitterness, greed… need I go on? The Bible says there is absolutely nothing we can do to make ourselves right enough to enter into the presence of holy God. It is only by God Himself that we are made pure through our trust in Jesus, our redeemer. 

For any Christian, this is not news. It is the very foundation of our faith. 

But do we really understand it? Do we understand how much we have been—and are being— forgiven? Is it for a little or for a lot? It’s so easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that we only need God to help us smooth over a few rough patches. But thinking this way only reveals pride. And that’s no small thing. I am convinced that pride is a far greater sin than the obvious culprits—sins of the flesh—because it can so easily mask itself as a virtue. 

Jesus addresses this in Luke 7:37–47. He is the special guest at a meal with a Jewish leader named Simon. A prostitute, desperate for forgiveness, bursts into the room, finds Jesus, and falls down at his feet, weeping and washing His feet with her tears. She surrenders any false dignity she may have had and makes a complete spectacle of herself. She is well aware of what a great sinner she is, but she also knows what a great savior Jesus is, so she bares all to him and trusts Him to love her and give her grace.

And Jesus does not disappoint. He forgives her and loves her. He communes with her at the deepest possible level, and her life is forever changed.

Simon, on the other hand, is disgusted and shocked. Not only has this filthy sinner entered his house and embarrassed him in front of his guests, but Jesus is allowing it! Doesn’t Jesus realize that she’s a sinner?

Simon, you see, is deceived by pride. He thinks he is righteous already because of his title and his respectable standing in the community. He probably even follows the Torah better than most other Jews. But he has no compassion or love for this woman, only disgust. His pride has blinded him to his own desperate need for Jesus—the only one in that room who could forgive him for his stony, self-righteous heart. But Simon doesn’t see his need for a savior. He thinks he’s doing just fine on his own. 

Jesus’ response to him is crucial:
“Someone who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little.”

The truth is that we all need to be forgiven for much—and that doesn’t stop after the sinner’s prayer. If we truly want to abide in Christ and walk with Him through this life, we must be able to see our need for Him daily, hourly, minute by minute.

Don’t be blinded by self-righteousness and pride. Understand that the chasm of sin that separates all of us from God is massive, but God’s grace and love for us through Jesus Christ is deeper still!

“God made this sinless Man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with Him, we might fully share in God’s righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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