A recent meme on a popular atheist’s website read as follows: “Your religious tradition has been guilting you into believing you’re a bad person, as if you are somehow a sinner since birth, that you inherited your ancestor’s guilt and have to worship and apologize to God to make up for that. You are NOT born evil. We ALL make mistakes. You are accountable only to yourself.”
Not only is this a false portrayal of what the Bible teaches, it actually isn’t as good it sounds. For those who trust Jesus Christ, the news is actually better, even though at first it might not seem to be.
Romans 3 tells us that we are all on a level playing field: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV). And that’s not all; the description gets worse. Essentially, there is a nasty, worldwide sewer of a mess called sin, and every single one of us is neck-deep in it. Here comes the good news though: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24 NIV). All are indeed sinners, but there is a hope available to all of us.
The truth is that God and His Word are not guilting us into anything. God is our Creator and the One who knows us intimately and sees clearly who we really are, and He knows that we are sinners. Furthermore, God does not demand that we worship and apologize to make up for our sin. God is a realist and He knows there is nothing we could ever do to make up for what we’ve done.
So, why is this good news? We are accountable not simply to ourselves, but to a God who is more compassionate and merciful than we can imagine. This is a God who, as Romans says, has justified us by his grace, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. He has generously offered us new life and a new identity, by trusting in what He has done for us. That is much greater news than simply patting myself on the back and telling myself I’m okay.
If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ, walk with confidence today. You are a sinner, but you are eternally and unbreakably loved. Let that love be your reality.
- Look at the meme at the beginning. Which of those things do you find yourself believing or wanting to believe? Why?
- God’s words in Romans 3:10-18 say some pretty harsh things about how we are as sinful human beings. Read that entire passage, and then discuss how have you seen this reflected in your own life, the lives of those around you, or in the things happening in our world today?
- Romans 3:24 talks about God’s grace that has justified us freely, “through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” What is grace? How does grace justify us? Why is it important for us to have a complete understanding of grace?
About the Author
Johnny Cabrera is a Mexican-American guy who was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. His parents introduced him to Jesus and taught him God’s Word from a very early age, but it was not until his early 20s that he made a personal and life-changing commitment to Christ. Since then, he has been a theater actor, singer/guitarist for a band, and junior high teacher. He now serves as Associate Pastor of Youth and Outreach at Trinity Church of the Nazarene, in Monterey Park. He lives in Arcadia, CA, with his lovely wife, Gloria Heejung, and their two kids, Elise Gibbeum and David Seunggi.
About the Artist
Christine Hwang graduated from UCLA with a BA in Art History. She loves art and wants to glorify God with the gifts that He’s given her. She is currently pursuing further education at a community college and hopes to build a career in either illustration or animation. Currently, her time is spent in Northern California, where she is building her art portfolio and developing her skills in animation.