|AZARUS HAD BEEN dead and rotting in the grave for days. His sister told Jesus, "He stinketh." (And who says there's no humor in the Bible?) But Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave.|
When He came upon a funeral procession, Jesus raised that man to life, too. Then there was the little girl he brought back to life. She had died only moments before Jesus arrived at her home.
Which of these three people was more dead? Lazarus had been dead the longest and smelled the worst, so would you say that he was the "deadest?" No, there are no degrees. Dead is dead.
It's the same way with sin. A sinner is a sinner, period. Sinners are law breakers. They've broken God's laws and their own moral laws. All sinners look the same to God. Because He's perfect and just, God can't have anything to do with sin. Sin separates us from Him.
Sin is a killer. Whether it's the sin of murder or just a little lie, the result is the same. It kills relationships.
Like death, sin has no degrees. Wrong is wrong and we've all done wrong. No one is better or worse than anybody else. We've all missed the mark or goal God had in mind for us. Check out the list in Galatians 5:19-23. It includes behaviors like jealousy, outbursts of anger, and envy. Who isn't guilty of these? We're all in the same sinking boat, and we need a lifeline.
According to the Bible, all who sin (or fall short of what God expects) will earn the wages of their actions, which is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). That's eternal separation from God.
Our sins have grieved the One who created and loved us. They've put up a barrier between us. We are dead to God in the same way that a family may say of a relative, "He is dead to me."
We are like walking dead people. We "stinketh" and we need a new life. But there's hope, because Jesus built a bridge to span the separation between God and people. He made it possible for us to be raised (spiritually) and "walk in a new life." This new life begins when we become Christians. (John 3:3 and 1Peter 1:23) How can we know for sure that we have been "born again" to this new life? Opinions vary, but only one opinion matters. That's God's.
Some folks say, "I'm a good person and I do good things, so that makes me a Christian." But don't many Muslims, Buddhists, and even atheists do good things? Doing good doesn't make you a Christian (Romans 3:20). And the Bible clearly says that nobody could ever be good enough to work his way to heaven, anyway. "There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10).
Some believe that because they attend church every week, they must be Christians. But if I spend each Sunday in my garage, does that mean I'm a car? If I take my dog to church every week, does that make him a Christian? People of many denominations attend their worship services regularly, but they are not all Christians; so attending church doesn't mean you're a Christian. In fact, the Bible even refers to people who worship God in vain. Apparently attending weekly worship services can actually be a waste of your time, if your heart isn't right. (Matthew 15:9)
Where does that leave us? It takes more than going through certain motions, knowing certain religious facts, or attending the correct church to be in good standing with God and saved from the consequences of sin. In Matthew 7, Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him "Lord" will get to heaven. On judgment day, He will say to many, "Away from me. I never knew you."
To cross the chasm that separates us from God, the dividing wall must be removed. Our guilt must be erased so we'll be seen as righteous in God's sight. Hebrews 9:14 says, "the blood of Christ cleanses our consciences" and "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."
Jesus provided the way to wipe out our guilt and make us righteous. We can be forgiven and not held accountable to pay the penalty for our crimes.
When Jesus died, he paid the price that we owed for our unrighteousness (sin). Jesus is the bridge spanning the canyon between God and us. Through Jesus, we may connect again with our creator and be right with Him once more. Salvation without Jesus is not possible. (John 14:6)
Marsha Jordan is a disabled grandmother, author, and shower singer who began her writing career on the bathroom walls of St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary School. Now her writing appears in restrooms throughout the country. Jordan has two boys, ages 30 and 55. She's been married to the 55 year old for 31 years.
She's been held captive for a quarter of a century In the north woods of Wisconsin where she shares an empty nest with her rocket scientist husband and their badly behaved toy poodle, King Louie who rules the household with an iron paw.
After her grandson was badly burned, Jordan created The HUGS and HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to cheering critically ill and injured children.
Jordan's inspirational and humorous essays are available in her new book, "Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter." The book is illustrated with drawings by kids who are battling for life.
More columns by Marsha Jordan