“For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s trespass…. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus,Christ” (Romans 5:15-17, ESV).
I have two friends whose backgrounds and Christian experience are completely opposite from one another. One of my friends yielded to God at a young age and has always lived for Christ as long as he can remember. My other friend ignored God and lived a very degenerate lifestyle well into his adult life. His degenerate way of life led him to despair and his despair eventually led him to Christ
Which one of my friends is more guilty before God when he came to Christ? Is it the one whose personal sins are the greatest?
Sometimes, we think that to become a Christian or “get saved” a person needs to repent of all their personal sinfulness. If that is true, then the more sinful you are before you get saved, the more you need to repent, which would mean, conversely, that the less sinful you are before you get saved the less you need to repent.
The fact is that it cost God the same to redeem both my friends. God has the same investment in both of my friend’s salvation–the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.
C.S. Lewis said that improvement is not redemption. As sinful as one may be, that’s not the main problem that needs resolution when we yield our lives to Christ.
Our problem with God–or His problem with us–is not about how many sins we have (or haven’t) committed.
God didn’t send His Son to become a human being and die a terrible death on the cross to improve us! Christ came to to save us, to redeem us, to restore us!
The real issue, then, is where your allegiance is—what you commit your loyalty to other than God. You are either a citizen of God’s Kingdom or a citizen of the rebellion against God’s Kingdom.
So deciding to follow Jesus isn’t necessarily a matter of renouncing your personal sinfulness–though small or great as it may be–as it is a matter of changing your allegiance.
The primary concern of God in your salvation is not how sinful you are but whose side you are on!
Human beings share a common condition–often called original sin–and its resolution is individually transacted by be requesting God to transfer one’s citizenship from the kingdom of this world to God’s Kingdom.
When we come to Christ, we’re renouncing the sovereignty of self and Satan over our lives and pledging our allegiance to our new King–Jesus!
To make God’s redemption a mere matter of forgiving us of all the personal sins we’ve committed, is to minimize it. Salvation is so much more than that! It’s a much, much greater spiritual transaction than just cleaning us up.
It’s about endowing us with eternal life; it’s about transforming us into the beings God intended us to be!
C.S. Lewis also said that fallen humanity “is a rebel who must lay down his arms” and your rebellion ends when what you are becoming is not what you intended yourself to be but what God intended you to be when He made you!
Now, back to my two friends. The path to God with less sinfulness is certainly the better way.
There are consequences to sin–emotional, relational, spiritual, physical, mental. There’s a lot more healing that will be needed by my formerly degenerate friend than by my Christian-all-his-life friend. One will certainly require more sanctification than the other to become the person God intended him to be.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, ESV).