So, Jesus came ‘to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10). That’s you and me. But what does Jesus mean by describing us as ‘lost’?
The Bible tells us that rather than live for God in the world, humans have chosen to go their own way. This has led us into a spiritual wasteland—we are lost without God in the world.
The problem of sin is at the heart of this dilemma. It’s not a popular thing to talk about ‘sin’ today. We seem to prefer to either overlook sin altogether, or to minimise it as part and parcel of being human. Actually, that is the case, for ‘all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory’ (Romans 3:23)*.
Sin isn’t just doing, thinking or saying wrong things—it’s an attitude of rebellion against God that sees us run our lives without reference to his standards and laws. Left unchecked, sin leads to misery, hurt and confusion. It can also leave us unsure of our place in the world. Disconnected from God we don’t have a true sense of our identity as God’s loved children. And neither do we have access to God’s help as we journey through life.
There was a time when we shared an open, unbroken friendship with God. Adam and Eve (the first humans) loved God and obeyed him. But they turned from God, choosing to make decisions without regard to his rule over their lives, even acting in deliberate opposition to what God had told them was right.
There is no way sin cannot come between us and God. Habakkuk 1:13 explains why sin creates such an insurmountable barrier, saying of God: ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.’ Because God is holy, he must sit in judgement on sin. He cannot simply look the other way.
Romans 6:23 says, ‘The wages of sin (the payment we deserve) is death.’ The sentence handed down for sin is the spiritual death of being cut off from God in this life and eternally separated from God after we die.
The good news is that Jesus made a way for us to come close to God again by dealing with the problem of sin.
When Jesus was crucified, he died in our place, as our substitute. Our spiritual debt is now paid in full. When we trust in what Jesus did on the cross, we are saved from both the power and the penalty of sin.
Colossians 2:13 says: ‘You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God’s people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins. God wiped out the charges that were against us … He took them away and nailed them to the cross.’*
Human nature is to turn away from those who wrong us, ignore us or simply don’t get us. But that’s not God’s way. God’s way is the way of love and forgiveness. And he longs to see us turn back to him.
By Christina Tyson (abridged from War Cry, 17 December 2011, p14)
* Contemporary English Version