“There is none righteous, no, not one…” Romans 3:10 (KJV)
“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (NIV)
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Romans 7:15 (NKJV)
When believers move toward holiness, the first thing that they need to understand is the radical nature of our sin. You know, we are not very good people. Some people think that we are born into this world good. That is a lie. We were born with a bent towards self. And that means that we are not bent toward God.
In fact a shallow and superficial view of sin will cause us to search for shallow and superficial solutions to our sin problem.
No amount of education, social reform or positive thinking is going to change the fact that mankind is no good. That is why we need a Savior. We need someone to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Let me add this: Even after you are born into the family of God, you still have the same old bent towards self and sin. We call it the “old nature” or “the flesh.” And it will be with you until you die.
Why do we need to know this? Because true believers understand the radical nature of their sin. And we need to honestly face that fact.
A 92 year-old priest was venerated by everybody in town for his holiness. He was also a member of the Rotary Club. Every time the club met, he would be there, always on time and always seated in his favorite spot in the corner of the room. One day, the priest disappeared. It was as if he had vanished into thin air. The townsfolk searched all over and could find no trace of him. But the following month, when the Rotary Club met, he was there as usual, sitting in his corner. “Father, where have you been?” everyone asked. “I just served a 30-day sentence in jail.” “In jail! Father, you couldn’t hurt a fly! What happened?” “It’s a long story…I bought myself a train ticket to go into the city. I was standing on the platform waiting for the train to arrive when this stunningly beautiful girl appears on the arm of a policeman. She looked at me, turned to the cop and said, ‘He did it. I’m certain he’s the one who did it.’ Well, to tell you the truth, I was so flattered I pleaded guilty.”
When I get honest, I admit that I am NOT a very good person. And left to myself I could do anything. There is not a single sin that I am incapable of committing.
As my wife once said, “Joe, you wouldn’t be so shocked by your own sin if you didn’t have such a high opinion of yourself.”
Please read the following ancient prayer slowly. Spend some time with it. It will serve you well.
Pardon all my sins of this day, week, year,
all the sins of my life,
sins of early, middle, and advanced years,
of omission and commission,
of morose, peevish, and angry tempers,
of lip, life and walk,
of hard-heartedness, unbelief, presumption, pride,
of unfaithfulness, to the souls of men,
of want of bold decision in the cause of Christ,
of deficiency in outspoken zeal for his glory,
of bringing dishonor upon thy great name,
of deception, injustice, untruthfulness
in my dealings with others,
of impurity in thought, word and deed,
of covetousness, which is idolatry,
of substance unduly hoarded, improvidently squandered,
not consecrated to the glory of thee, the great giver;
sins in private and in the family,
in study and recreation, in the busy haunts of men,
in the study of thy Word and in the neglect of it,
in prayer irreverently offered and coldly withheld,
in time misspent,
in yielding to Satan’s wiles,
in open my heart to his temptations,
in being unwatchful when I know him nigh,
in quenching the Holy Spirit;
sins against the light and knowledge,
against conscience and the restraints of thy Spirit,
against the law of eternal love.
Pardon all my sins, known and unknown, felt and unfelt,
confessed and not confessed,
remembered or forgotten.
Good Lord, hear; and hearing, forgive.