Saturday, May 28, 2011

Too Sinful to be Saved?

We have studied how Jesus was able to forgive, cleanse, heal and raise up those who were sinful, unclean, diseased, and even dead (Luke 7,8; John 11) without in any way corrupting or defiling His own holiness and purity (Hebrews 4:15). Before Jesus drove out devils from the demon-possessed man (Luke 8:27-35; Matt. 8:24-32; Mark 5:1-20), this man was in a state of nakedness, which in the Garden of Eden was first a sign of innocence (Gen. 2:25), but then of shame since Adam and Eve sinned (Gen. 3:7).

Man’s attempts to deal with his sin are woefully inadequate. His nakedness was not properly clothed until God covered him with animal skins (Gen. 3:21), which meant that animals had to be killed. There was no death until sin entered in by the fall (Rom. 5:12), but this first recorded death foreshadowed the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, that would not just cover our sins but remove them for all time (John 1:29).

The demon-possessed man was not only naked, but outcast from the city and from society, living among the tombs, which the Jews considered to be unclean. He was possessed by so many evil spirits that they called themselves Legion (Luke 8:30), referring to a Roman army division that would consist of about 6,000 warriors, and they were cast into a herd of about 2000 swine (Mark 5:13).

Interestingly, these evil spirits immediately recognized Jesus as the Holy Son of God (Luke 8:28), with power to cast them into hell (Luke 8:31, Rev. 20: 1-3, 2 Pet. 2:4). This shows that salvation comes not by believing in God alone (James 2:19), but by repenting of sins (2 Corinthians 7:10) and trusting Christ as Savior (John 3:16).

Can someone be too sinful to be saved? The recent capture and execution of Bin Laden gives the civilized world cause to rejoice that he will no longer commit evil acts of cold-blooded murder and terrorism. Yet as Christians, we should be saddened, not necessarily by his physical death, but by the absence of any outward sign that he had repented of his sins and trusted Christ, which would have kept him from being doomed to hell.

Even Bin Laden or Hitler or Stalin were not beyond the all-cleansing, all-forgiving, gift of grace and eternal life so freely given by Jesus as He died on the cross to pay the sin debt, in full, of all sinners, past, present and future (1 Cor 15). Yet that gift must be accepted to be valid, and, although only God knows the heart (Ps. 44:21), sadly, there is no evidence that any of these did so.

The apostle Paul, who was Saul before he trusted Christ, described himself as chief among sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) because he zealously persecuted, imprisoned and even executed Christians (Acts 22). Yet God used him to write a large part of the New Testament, to evangelize the Gentiles, and to plant many churches. Thank God that no one is beyond His saving grace (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13), and that no matter what our past before we repent and trust Jesus, He can use us for His glory. As we saw in the case of the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, dried them with her hair, and anointed them with costly ointment, the person who is forgiven much will love Christ all the more (Luke 7:38-50).

Even a man formerly ruled by 6,000 demons can be restored to his right mind, his sins forgiven and sitting humbly at Jesus’ feet in right fellowship to Him. When Christ changes us it should be obvious to everyone who knew us before. Praise God that by grace through faith we can leave behind our nakedness and be clothed with His righteousness (Rev. 9:7-9; Isaiah 61:10).

Because Jesus paid our sin debt by suffering and dying on the cross and being separated from His Father, in our place, we can leave behind the nakedness of sin and shame and the filthy rags of our own righteousness, which does nothing to counteract our sin or the laws we have broken. Instead, when we come to the end of our own strength and realize that without Him we are nothing, we have nothing, and we can do nothing (John 15:5), He covers us with His salvation and His righteousness (Romans 5:6-21).

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Love in Him,

Laurie Collett

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