Why do Christians talk about sin all the time? Isn’t that just discouraging? Isn’t it negative? Someone from outside the faith might think such things. Of course, the world makes fun of us for talking so much about what is wrong with us (see Ned Flanders).
But have you ever stopped to consider how understanding our sinfulness helps us? There is actually a tremendous joy in grasping just how messed up we are. Without it, we cannot grasp grace.
In Luke 7, a woman came to Jesus in great sorrow over her sin. A religious leader looked down on Jesus for allowing himself to be in the presence of such a sinner, but Christ rebuked the man. Jesus pointed out that the woman was loving God much because of how great was her forgiveness.
Luke 7:47 – Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.
So, the question is: How much have you been forgiven? That will help you to know how much joy you should have over grace. If you have not come to Christ for forgiveness, you have no reason to rejoice over grace with the exception of being grateful to God that you are still alive, and thus forgiveness is still available.
But if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, consider how great is your forgiveness. At this point, you may be tempted to go over your life and think of the worst sins you have committed—a very unpleasant task. Or, it is even possible that, if you have nothing major in your past, you will wonder if you are bad enough to love much as Jesus said. But both of those are the wrong direction for thinking of how great is your forgiveness.
Start your thinking with the Lord. God is perfect. God is endlessly, eternally, infinitely perfect. It is not that my goodness is a 2 and God’s is a 10. God’s goodness is infinity times infinity as the kids like to say. So, regardless of how good or bad I have ever been, the difference in measure between my goodness and God’s goodness is infinity. Now, sin is to fail to live up to God’s level of righteousness. So, my sin is equal to the gap between my goodness and God’s: infinite. Regardless of whether I am a former murderer or a lovely little church kid, my sin before God is an infinite gap.
Now, add in the justice of God. WE all know that the proper punishment must fit the crime. But our crime against the Lord is infinite, as we have fallen infinitely short of God’s perfection. Ponder that, let it sink in, and you will start to understand some majorly important things. Because of my sin, I deserve infinite punishment. No matter how big or little my sin is, my failure to live up to God’s perfection merits infinite wrath from God. This, of course, is why hell is a forever punishment for sin.
With that understood, I can now go back and reflect on how much I have been forgiven. Jesus, God the Son, the infinitely perfect one, came to earth to pay for my sin. Jesus took upon himself the proper penalty for my wrong. Jesus, because he is God in flesh, could successfully bear the wrath of God on my behalf, a wrath that would have cost me forever in hell. Jesus died and rose from the grave to prove that he fully paid the price for my sins and now I am forgiven by God’s grace alone through faith alone in the finished work and person of Christ alone.
When I recognize that my sin merited hell, no matter how bad it was or was not, and when I recognize that Jesus took a penalty I could have never finished paying for all eternity, I have reason to love much. I have been forgiven much. I have been forgiven just as much as any human being with any past. I have had an infinite judgment lifted from my record because of the grace and mercy and love of Jesus. And that should make me respond to Jesus with incredible, life-changing, soul-rejoicing gratitude.