Does your soul have rest? What is the determining factor? The Bible says that we are created in the image of God, but we would be hard pressed to say that many of us are actually good “image bearers.” Why is that? Why is there evil seemingly everywhere? Continue reading to find out.
The sin of Adam (Genesis 3) has reached the entire human race. We are all morally corrupt beings, hostile toward God, and unwilling to submit to His will (Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18). We are capable of unspeakable sins and perversions, and are, therefore, worthy of the just condemnation of a holy and righteous God, an eternity in hell (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8). The Bible is clear: because we have broken God’s commands and violated His Law, we stand condemned before Him without excuse or alibi, and we can do nothing to change our circumstances or reconcile ourselves to God. This is a dreadful truth, but it must be believed and accepted if we are to comprehend the great salvation which God accomplished for His people through Jesus Christ.
The truth about man is devastating to anyone whose conscience has been awakened by the Holy Spirit. As the apostle Paul cried out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). The answer to Paul’s question and the solution to man’s dreadful predicament is found in Christ alone—the Gospel, or Good News of His saving work on behalf of those who believe.
The Psalmist tells us that if the Lord should keep a record of our iniquities against Him, there would not be a single man on earth who could stand before Him in judgment (Psalm 130:3). Our iniquities have gone over our heads and as a heavy burden their weight is too much for us to bear (Psalm 38:4). Sin is mankind’s greatest problem and the singular source of all the maladies that ruin us as individuals and as collective societies. Therefore our two greatest needs are salvation from the condemnation of sin, and deliverance from its power; both of which are provided for in the person of Jesus Christ and in His saving work on behalf of those who believe.
The Bible declares unequivocally that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (Exodus 34:6-8). Therefore, He does not take delight in the death of the wicked, but rather that they should turn from their ways and live (Ezekiel 18:23). Regardless of the depth of your sin or the extent of your rebellion, you are offered both pardon and cleansing if you will forsake your ways and turn to the Lord. The Psalmist even goes so far as to say that God will forgive his lawless deeds, cover his sins, and no longer take his iniquities into account (Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 4:6-8).
This is astounding news, but it does present us with something of theological or philosophical dilemma: How can a good and righteous God grant pardon to wicked men? “Won’t the Judge of the whole earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25)? Can a just God be apathetic toward sin or brush it under the rug as though it never happened? Can a holy God bring wicked men into fellowship with Himself and still be holy? The Scriptures themselves declare that, “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the just—both are detestable to the Lord.” (Proverbs 17:15). How then can God forgive the wicked without compromising His own character? Again, the answer is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
According to the Scriptures, man has sinned and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). God is just and the demands of His law must be satisfied before the guilty can be pardoned (Proverbs 17:15). In the fullness of time, the Son of God became a man and walked on this earth in perfect obedience to the law of God (Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 4:15). At the end of His life and according to the will of the Father, He was crucified by the hands of wicked men (Acts 2:23). On the cross, He stood in the place of His guilty people and their sin was imputed to (transferred or put on) Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). As the sin bearer, He became accursed of God, forsaken of God, and crushed under the weight of God’s wrath (Galatians 3:13; Matthew 27:46; Isaiah 53:10). Through His death and resurrection, the debt for sin was paid, the demands of God’s justice were satisfied, and the wrath of God was appeased. In this manner, God solved the great dilemma. He has justly punished the sins of His people in the death of His only Son, and therefore, may freely justify all who place their hope in Him.
Through the death of His Son, God may now be both just and the justifier of even the most vile sinner who places his trust in Him (Romans 3:26). However, the Gospel is more than liberation from the condemnation of sin; it is also deliverance from sin’s power. In his first epistle, the apostle John tells us, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God…” (1 John 5:1). This new birth which enables a man to repent and believe unto salvation also enables him to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, the believer’s heart of stone, which was spiritually dead and unresponsive to God, has been replaced with a heart of living flesh that is both willing and able to hear His voice and follow Him (Ezekiel 36:25-27). Though he was once a bad tree bearing bad fruit, he is now a good tree planted by streams of water, yielding fruit in its season, and with leaves that do not wither (Matthew 7:17-18; Psalm 1:3). Thus the believer is not only justified, but is also the very workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10). In fact, this ongoing moral transformation in the believer’s life is the basis of his assurance and the evidence of true conversion.
As stated before, the Gospel is astounding news, but the question remains: “How may it be obtained?” “What must a person do to be saved?” The answer is clear: you must “repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). There are many Scriptures that refute any argument or suggestion that you can be saved by your own virtue and merit. In ourselves, we are destitute of both, and even what may be called “righteous deeds” (or good works) before others, are nothing but filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, to be saved, to obtain the salvation promised in the Gospel, you must reject any and all confidence in yourself, and trust in Jesus Christ alone (Philippians 3:3). A Christian is one who has agreed with God concerning their sinful state, has renounced all confidence in their own virtue and merit, and has placed all their hope for salvation in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” (John 3:16-21)
“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)
(Adapted from The Truth About Man by Paul Washer)