Are you a Christian? Were you brought up in a Christian home? That does not make you a Christian.
My mother always went to church. That does not make you a Christian.
I believe in doing good and helping others. Quite right, too, but so do most people.
I was baptized and confirmed. So are thousands who care little about Christ. That does not make you a Christian.
I believe in God. So does the devil. That does not make you a Christian.
Many people say and think they are Christians yet rarely bother about Christ. What is a Christian, then?✞
In the beginning, when God makes human beings, he makes them perfect and good and sinless. He wants them to be his friends and look after the Earth. God does not make them robots or machines. He gives us a precious gift, free will, to choose between right and wrong, good and bad. God does not want to force us to love him. God wants us to love him freely. But when we choose to disobey God, we choose wrong. We prefer to please ourselves rather than God. And so, sin enters the world. It is a disease we all have, as Saint Paul writes in Romans 3.23, "for all have sinned."✞
We all fail in our human standards and are now, therefore, unable to reach God's perfect standard. Evil, wrong, and sin are present in the life of everyone born into the world. We see this in all the hatred and violence, greed, and selfishness around us. We see this as we look at our own lives. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we have failed human standards. It is part of our very nature. I sin when I come short of God's standard. Romans 3.23 tells us, "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."✞
Suppose the pass mark for an exam is fifty percent. If you get forty-nine, you have failed. If someone else gets five marks, he or she has also failed. It is no good saying, "I did much better than the one who got five." You have both failed. You may think you are not so bad, better than most. But that's not the point, for not one of us comes anywhere near God's perfect standard, which is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. We may not have done anything, especially wicked. We are sinners because we are just not good enough.✞
Human beings have a deep inclination towards a self-centered life. I sin when I do what I want. The Bible says in Isaiah 53.6, "We have turned every one to his way." Doing what I want is the cause of all trouble, unhappiness, and quarrels. Sin is not just killing, stealing, or telling lies. I sin when I live a selfish life rather than a life given to God. I sin when I can't be bothered with God or with other people. I sin when I say, "I'm my own boss; it's my life; I can do what I like with it." SIN is "I" in the middle, me first. I sin when I do not love God with all my heart.✞
Jesus says in Matthew 22.37-38, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." Mark 12.30 adds, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Not one of us has loved God like this. We have all broken the great commandment. We are all naturally self-centered rather than God-centered.✞
The removal of sin is to remove the barrier to God and open the way to full life in Jesus. Sin is like an ugly blot on a clean page. Being selfish, lazy, thoughtless, and telling lies ruins our character. Sin destroys the happiness of a home or a friendship.✞
Sins are like the weeds in a garden. If weeds are not rooted out, they will soon overrun it. Little acts of dishonesty and disobedience soon become habits we cannot break.✞
Sin is like a thick cloud that blots out the sun. That is why God seems miles away. He is pure and holy and hates sin. He cannot and will not look on wickedness. We need to remove the barrier to God that blocks the way to him. Sin cuts you off from God in this life and in the life to come. Be quite clear about this. Hell is a grim and dreadful reality for all who reject Jesus Christ in this life. What are you going to do about it? You cannot remove the barrier to God yourselves. You cannot save yourself. Trying to help others and doing good cannot remove this barrier, either. If sin results in separation from God, is there no hope for us? Has God washed his hands of us?✞