Boston Herald sports headline, Sunday, July 24, 2016: “Suspension rules leave little wiggle room for Tom Brady.” The article discusses whether NFL quarterback Tom Brady will “keep his sanity” during four weeks of suspension from his team. He is supposed to have no contact with the team. No going to the stadium. No practicing passes with teammates. No discussions with teammates. Some have been hunting for loopholes, but there seems to be no wiggle room.
In the last post I did a short meditation on the significance of Adam’s one bite of forbidden fruit. for the smallest infraction, consequences both now and for eternity are enormous and certain. God leaves no wiggle room. Nor is there but one means of salvation that would grant eternal life; it has to be accomplished God’s way. But we don’t like the the terms. What are common loopholes we try? Following are common responses I have heard from both myself and others.
Many people say something like, “I agree that sin deserves punishment, but I do a lot of good deeds. I’m a basically good person.”
By whose definition? According to God Adam was originally “very good”– which is much “gooder” than you or I. Yet when he ate (a merely normal activity) of a forbidden fruit, he was no longer good but corrupted. (It wasn’t even junk food.) If so, then how much worse for us.
On the Final Judgment scales, one sin far outweighs all the good a person does. If you’ve broken the law in one point, you’ve broken the whole (James 2:10). Paul said, “No one does good.”
“No, not one.” Not even you. Read it in Romans 3:10-18. Not one “good” deed done by a person outside of Christ is acceptable to God. Rather, every good deed is to Him filthy, like a reeking filthy rag (Is. 64:6). We cannot bifurcate our deeds from ourselves, and our selves are not good.
Not That Bad
“But really, I don’t think God would condemn me for one white lie, especially when my intentions were good.”
A lie with an adjective attached is still a lie. The adjective proves our lack of goodness. Rather than admit the truth, it seeks to avoid conviction and minimize the offense. It holds a low view of God’s perfect holiness.
While there are degrees of sin and punishment, when it comes to life or death a sin cannot be measured on a qualitative continuum as if a bank robbery is condemnable but taking a forbidden cookie is no big deal, as if vicious lies deserve hell but a white lie should be excused. No sin is insignificant because the issue, even in the smallest of offenses, is that God is King and we reject His rule.
“But everybody messes up.”
Proverbs 16:2 is right, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes.” We justify ourselves rather than looking at it through God’s eyes. What we call “mess up” God calls “sin.” Sin is a violation of God’s command, either actively or passively, either overtly or inadvertently. Leviticus 5:17 says that even unintentional sin merits guilt. Any failure to do absolutely everything God commands exactly in the way He commands it is a sin.
“But I have faith.”
The demons believe and yet do not know God. Of the Ephesian Christians Paul wrote, “By grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9, emphasis added). Oh, what right have we to boast about what is a gift? Would we thereby steal even faith? See the deceitfulness of sin!
“But I’m really sincere about what I believe.”
A suicide (homicide) bomber is as sincere as you can get, fatally sincere, murderously sincere–and sincerely wrong. Sincerity is not the standard for heaven, holiness is. Jesus said, “Be perfect as My heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). God’s standard is 100% perfection and not a thousandth of a percent less.
So when it comes to our culpability before God, there is no wiggle room.
The good news is, God provided for salvation from eternal punishment. It is abundant salvation and is gained by one way only–Jesus the Christ. One act of disobedience was so abhorrent to God that it required a curse on all men, but one act of obedience by Jesus gave much more. Jesus’ obedient self-sacrifice on the cross paid for not just one sin, but for all the sins of all the men who would trust in Him. One sin cursed all who are in Adam. One sacrifice overruled that curse and abundantly blessed all who are in Christ (Romans 5).
We commonly seek loopholes from guilt and escape on our terms. Impossible! Dear reader, trust in Jesus Christ and Him alone–no wiggle room.
Examine your own life.
- Do you consider yourself to be basically a good person who means well?
- Do you paint your sins white?
- Do you redefine sins as mess-ups?
- Do you have faith in your faith (or in some profession you made back in the day)?
- Do you take comfort in your sincerity?
Change your mind:
- View yourself as God does, corrupted by sin and unable to be good enough to please Him.
- View sins like God does–egregious, having cost the death of His perfect, innocent Son.
- Label sins biblically.
- Confess sins for what they are in God’s eyes and turn from them.
- Trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and grace to follow Him.