To tell you the truth, if everyone were good in God’s sight, nobody would need Jesus and we wouldn’t be spending our efforts making web sites like this one.
The psalmist long ago said that there is no one that does good, not even one.”1 Oh, to be sure, most of us aren’t murderers or thieves or anything like that. We like to think of ourselves as respectable, with no need for major changes in our lives. Yet the picture the Scriptures present is that even the best of us is desperately sinful, deeply alienated from God, from each other and even from ourselves.
The problem of mankind, according to the Bible, is precisely that we are “happy with our own religion,” “happy with what we believe.” Usually what we believe is not what the Scriptures teach. We’re happy to think that we’re good, that surely God will overlook our “little” mistakes and shortcomings and that He isn’t really serious about our sins. We’re happy to place our own wills and desires at the center of our private universe, rather than making the will and the desires of our Creator primary.
But God is serious about our sin. As Jews we tend to think that sin is exclusively a matter of committing individual acts. But sin is much more than that. The Scriptures show us that sin is a condition of human existence which does not pertain to a particular act, but rather to an attitude, one of arrogance and rebellion. The best of men, like Abraham, Moses and King David, all committed acts of sin. The prophet Isaiah said, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”2 This righteous prophet indicated that it is only human for each man, himself included, to seek self-fulfillment rather than to seek to fulfill the precepts of God. King David said that his sin was a condition from birth.3 Sin is universal–that’s why the Day of Atonement is universally observed among Jewish people as the most solemn of all holidays. And that’s why God provided a way of forgiveness, beginning with the Old Testament animal sacrifices and culminating in the death of the Messiah. Our responsibility is to respond in faith and to place our trust in Jesus as our atonement. We must return to a view of life centered in God’s way of looking at things, rather than in our own preferences.
We really are sinful in the depths of our being, and all the education, affluence and technology in the world hasn’t changed that; it’s only enabled us to express our rebellion in a more sophisticated fashion. Jesus really did come in history, really did die and really did rise from the dead. All the objections in the world and all the ignoring of the evidence won’t make that reality go away. Perhaps your attitude is that of the skeptic who said, “I won’t believe–and don’t confuse me with the facts!” But God really does hold us responsible for facing the facts about ourselves, and accepting His offer of forgiveness through Jesus.
In a word, you should believe in Jesus, not because it will make you happy, but because it’s true.
- Psalm 14:3
- Isaiah 53:6
- Psalm 51:5