Written by Elizabeth Mak, Art by Phoebe Ng
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Fatherâ€”Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 1:8-2:2)
Though I don’t often want to admit it, the truth is that I’m a sinner.
The truth of our sin is what we must be willing to admit if we are to truly have hope. I know it sounds paradoxical, but it is this very truth that requires us to place our hope completely outside of ourselves. To do otherwise would be to make us hopeless.
When I was little, I used to love going to the park and playing on the playground. I especially enjoyed climbing up the slide, though I’d often lose balance or strength as I started climbing and would find myself sliding back to the bottom.
Dealing with our sin is a little like trying to climb to the top of an infinitely high slideâ€”a slide that reaches all the way to the heavens. We might get pretty far in our own estimation. But sooner or later, we lose footing or energy and slide back to where we started.
How hopeless it is to live a life of always trying your hardest to make it to a level that is impossible to reach, only to find yourself falling again and again. That would drive anyone crazy. But it sounds awfully similar to what we all try to do when we know we’ve fallen short. The only way we can get to the top is if someone greater lifts us up and brings us there. We cannot do it in and of our own strength.
Another common way of looking at sin can be compared to someone who has driven through a red traffic light. When a police officer pulls that person over, the driver explains that she doesn’t deserve a ticket because she went through ten green lights before going through the one red one. Her good deeds outweighed her bad deeds. Do you think that excuse would fly over well if she had actually crashed into another car and taken the lives of other passengers? No. Those “good deeds” of driving through green lights and stopping at red ones were what she was supposed to be doing and continue doing. They didn’t mark up points for her so they could pay for her one slip up.
Or what if she acted like she didn’t do anything wrong? Could she continue going on in life without any punishment? No, even in a world with what seems like so much injustice, a person who commits a traffic violation would be served a traffic ticket or even thrown in jail if lives were lost as a result. Even if she got away, she would spend the rest of her life running away from the authorities and the truth of what she did. Ultimately, our wrong deeds must be paid for in some way.
When I try to understand how costly sin is, I only have to look at the infinite greatness of our Creator. If breaking a local traffic law incurs a payment, how much more is that payment when we break a law against the most perfect, just, good Being ever to exist? None of us could ever afford to pay it, not even with our lives or even several lives.
The truth is that our hope lies solely on God’s love for us. God loved us so much He gave up His only Son as a payment for the penalty we deserved for the sins we committed. In exchange, He simply asked us to own up to our sinâ€”confess what we’ve doneâ€”stop trying to hide it or act like it’s not there. And run to Jesus, believing with all our heart that He paid the price for our sins to be forgiven. A once hopeless life of sin and despair can now find its hope in Him who paid the ultimate price so that we can be saved from our sins and live an entirely new and abundant life in Christ.
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