Before we can look at the "good news" of God's solution we should take time to consider the "bad news" of man's problem.
"Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" (Proverbs 20:9)
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not." (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:10)
Sin impacts everyone. Sin is not limited by culture, age, ethnicity, or socio-economic position. We are born with a sin nature (Psalm 51:5). A child doesn't need to be taught how to lie or how to be self centered. As a fish is born to swim, so mankind is born knowing how to choose evil (Isaiah 66:4). Not only does God's Word declare this to be the case, but it is a truth universally experienced.
"Whosover committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4b)
". . . for whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Romans 14:23b)
There are several Hebrew words which help us to understand what the Bible means when it talks about sin:
1. "Sin" חָטָא (ḥâṭâ˒) means to miss the target (Judges 20:16); It has the idea of falling short of expectation; of achieving anything less than perfect completion. Sin is failing to fulfill God's explicit will as set forth in the law.
2. "Iniquity" עָוֹן (˓âwôn) The root meaning is to bend, twist, distort, to make crooked, or to pervert (Lamentations 3:9; Proverbs 12:8). Sin twists or warps God's intended desire as expressed in the law.
3. "Transgression" פֶּשַׁע (peša˓) means to create a breach of relationship by rebellion, revolt, or a breaking of covenant agreement (Jeremiah 3:13). Sin is a personal affront to God in which man disputes God's authority, wisdom, and goodness by choosing to live outside the boundaries of the law (God's covenant agreement with man).
The Ten Commandments were never intended to be an exhaustive listing of sin. There are 613 specific commandments enumerated in the Old Testament (248 positive "do" commands and 365 negative "don't" prohibitions). The Ten Commandments focus on relationship. The first tablet spotlights how we demonstrate loyal love to our God and Creator while the second tablet highlights how we demonstrate loyal love to both family and neighbors. God’s law puts a guard on our actions, our words and even our thoughts. Jesus Christ summarized the law in Matthew 22:36-40.
No one will ever be able to use God's law to establish personal righteousness, because no one has ever been able to perfectly keep the law (with the lone exception of Jesus Christ). Who can say they have never told a lie? Who can claim to have honored their parents with complete respect and obedience throughout their entire childhood? While the law reflects on the holiness of God in the purity of its demands, the law also highlights the utter failure of men and women to abide within its boundaries. Coming to realize our inability to keep the law leads us to turn in faith toward God seeking his mercy and grace (Psalm 51:1-4, 16-7; Romans 7:7-13; Galatians 3:22-24).
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Titus 3:5)
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Scripture states, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork." Man's handiwork of sin demonstrates our falling short of that same glorious perfection. Even actions which we consider good are counted as corrupt and spotted with iniquity in the sight of God. Instead of having luscious fruits of righteousness to offer God, we only have dry leaves which the winds of time blow away. The deeds of even the best of men can never demonstrate worthiness to join the presence of God. Instead they only disqualify from enjoying God's fellowship (Psalm 19:1; Ephesians 2:8-9).
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