This week at Youth Group we resumed our series, “Think About It: Christian Cliches… what’s this even mean?!”Other messages in the series include: “How to be a Strong Christian,” “What’s it Mean to Invite Jesus into Your Heart?,” “It’s Not My Gift,” and “Let Go, Let God.”
If you were to measure the people on the scale below, where would you place them on a ‘goodness scale?’
Why would you put them there? What makes the Pope “better” than Bieber? How do you decide if Taylor Swift belongs? Really think about it… what does it mean to “be good.”
It all depends on how you’re measuring!
What is Sin?
The biblical word for “Sin” came from an archery term, meaning, “to miss the mark.” If you didn’t hit what you’re aiming for, then you sinned. You missed it.
God’s standard is holiness. The Bible teaches, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We’ve all blown it. We’ve all done things we know we’re not supposed to do. At the same time, we’ve all not done things we know we should be doing.
If life is a competition against other people and God is going to take the top 10% then sure, measure yourself against other people. But if that’s not how God words (hint: it’s not), then we need to measure ourselves the same way God measures.
The Gospel of Grace
The message of Christianity is good news. It’s an announcement that God has taken our punishment and shame away through Jesus Christ, and he’s made adoption as sons and daughters of God possible through faith.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8, ESV)
Some people think they need to clean themselves up before God will accept them, but the only people God saves are sinners. You need to admit that you aren’t good enough, you can’t clean yourself up. Instead, God sent his Son to take the punishment you deserve… and he did this while you were still a sinner. While you were still an enemy of God. He didn’t want for you to clean yourself up. He didn’t wait until you asked him to! He took the first step.
If you deserved it… it wouldn’t be grace!
How to be Good
Here are some questions for you to honestly consider.
1. “Am I trying to earn God’s love?” If this is your motivation behind your goodness, then you’re never going to feel secure. You will always fear that you haven’t done enough. Instead, the Christian’s goodness is our way of showing the world how great our Savior is (not a way of “proving” ourselves).
2. “What am I doing that I know is wrong?” This is easy. You probably already have a list of sins you know you need to overcome. Greed, gossip, lust, anger, cheating, stealing stuff, etc.
3. “What am I NOT doing that I know I SHOULD be doing?” This is more difficult. We can sin just as easily by sitting on the sidelines or by being lazy if God is calling you to get in the game and get to work. Do you see people in need around you but continue to ignore them? Do you overlook your responsibility to share the gospel with the lost? Do you let your faith habits (Bible reading, prayer, etc.) get crowded out by other priorities?
4. “With God’s help, what one thing will I start doing this week?” Where will you start? Instead of thinking about what you want to STOP, think about what you’re going to replace it with. The goal of the Christian life isn’t to “not sin.” When we walk around constantly telling ourselves what sins we’re NOT going to do, then we’re still focusing on sin instead of focusing on godliness. The goal is to worship God by living in a way that makes much of God. Have you mind fixed on things above, not on things below (Colossians 3:2).
It all comes down to this: God saves sinners. He doesn’t save good people… they don’t think they need saving. But you can become a child of God if you admit that you’re a sinner, believe that Jesus has done everything needed for your salvation through his death and resurrection, and confess that Jesus is your only hope for salvation. God saves sinners, and gives new life.