The Sinner's Need of Christ
MAN was originally endowed with noble
powers and a well-balanced mind. He was perfect in his being, and in harmony with God. His
thoughts were pure, his aims holy. But through disobedience, his powers were perverted,
and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened through
transgression that it was impossible for him, in his own strength, to resist the power of
evil. He was made captive by Satan, and would have remained so forever had not God
specially interposed. It was the tempter's purpose to thwart the divine plan in man's
creation, and fill the earth with woe and desolation. And he would point to all this evil
as the result of God's work in creating man.
In his sinless state, man
held joyful communion with Him "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge." Colossians 2:3. But after his sin, he could no longer find joy in
holiness, and he sought to hide from the presence of God. Such is still the condition of
the unrenewed heart. It is not in harmony with God, and finds no joy in communion with
Him. The sinner could not be happy in God's presence; he would shrink from the
companionship of holy beings. Could he be permitted to enter heaven, it would have no joy
for him. The spirit of unselfish love that reigns there --every heart responding to the
heart of Infinite Love --would touch no answering chord in his soul. His thoughts, his
interests, his motives, would be alien to
those that actuate the sinless dwellers there.
He would be a discordant note in the melody of heaven. Heaven would be to him a place of
torture; he would long to be hidden from Him who is its light, and the center of its joy.
It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they
are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to
them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the
face of Him who died to redeem them.
It is impossible for us, of
ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and
we cannot change them. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one."
"The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be." Job 14:4; Romans 8:7. Education, culture, the exercise of the
will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may
produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot
purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from
above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace
alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.
The Saviour said,
"Except a man be born from above," unless he shall receive a new heart, new
desires, purposes, and motives, leading to a new life, "he cannot see the kingdom of
God." John 3:3, margin. The idea that it is necessary only to develop the good that
exists in man by nature, is a fatal deception. "The natural man receiveth not the
things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned." "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye
must be born again." 1 Corinthians 2:14; John 3:7. Of Christ it is written, "In
Him was life; and the life was the light of men"--the only "name under heaven
given among men, whereby we must be saved." John 1:4; Acts 4:12.
It is not enough to perceive
the loving-kindness of God, to see the benevolence, the fatherly tenderness, of His
character. It is not enough to discern the wisdom and justice of His law, to see that it
is founded upon the eternal principle of love. Paul the apostle saw all this when he
exclaimed, "I consent unto the law that it is good." "The law is holy, and
the commandment holy, and just, and good." But he added, in the bitterness of his
soul-anguish and despair, "I am carnal, sold under sin." Romans 7:16, 12, 14. He
longed for the purity, the righteousness, to which in himself he was powerless to attain,
and cried out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of
death?" Romans 7:24, margin. Such is the cry that has gone up from burdened hearts in
all lands and in all ages. To all, there is but one answer, "Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29.
Many are the figures by which
the Spirit of God has sought to illustrate this truth, and make it plain to souls that
long to be freed from the burden of guilt. When, after his sin in deceiving Esau, Jacob
fled from his father's home, he was weighed down with a sense
of guilt. Lonely and outcast
as he was, separated from all that had made life dear, the one thought that above all
others pressed upon his soul, was the fear that his sin had cut him off from God, that he
was forsaken of Heaven. In sadness he lay down to rest on the bare earth, around him only
the lonely hills, and above, the heavens bright with stars. As he slept, a strange light
broke upon his vision; and lo, from the plain on which he lay, vast shadowy stairs seemed
to lead upward to the very gates of heaven, and upon them angels of God were passing up
and down; while from the glory above, the divine voice was heard in a message of comfort
and hope. Thus was made known to Jacob that which met the need and longing of his soul--a
Saviour. With joy and gratitude he saw revealed a way by which he, a sinner, could be
restored to communion with God. The mystic ladder of his dream represented Jesus, the only
medium of communication between God and man.
This is the same figure to
which Christ referred in His conversation with Nathanael, when He said, "Ye shall see
heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
John 1:51. In the apostasy, man alienated himself from God; earth was cut off from heaven.
Across the gulf that lay between, there could be no communion. But through Christ, earth
is again linked with heaven. With His own merits, Christ has bridged the gulf which sin
had made, so that the ministering angels can hold communion with man. Christ connects
fallen man in his weakness and helplessness with the Source of infinite power.
But in vain are men's dreams
of progress, in vain all efforts for the uplifting of humanity, if they neglect the one
Source of hope and help for the fallen race. "Every good gift and every perfect
gift" (James 1:17) is from God. There is no true excellence of character apart from
Him. And the only way to God is Christ. He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the
life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." John 14:6.
The heart of God yearns over
His earthly children with a love stronger than death. In giving up His Son, He has poured
out to us all heaven in one gift. The Saviour's life and death and intercession, the
ministry of angels, the pleading of the Spirit, the Father working above and through all,
the unceasing interest of heavenly beings,--all are enlisted in behalf of man's
Oh, let us contemplate the
amazing sacrifice that has been made for us! Let us try to appreciate the labor and energy
that Heaven is expending to reclaim the lost, and bring them back to the Father's house.
Motives stronger, and agencies more powerful, could never be brought into operation; the
exceeding rewards for right-doing, the enjoyment of heaven, the society of the angels, the
communion and love of God and His Son, the elevation and extension of all our powers
throughout eternal ages--are these not mighty incentives and encouragements to urge us to
give the heart's loving service to our Creator and Redeemer?
And, on the other hand, the
judgments of God pronounced against sin, the inevitable retribution, the
our character, and the final destruction, are presented in God's word to warn us against
the service of Satan.
Shall we not regard the mercy
of God? What more could He do? Let us place ourselves in right relation to Him who has
loved us with amazing love. Let us avail ourselves of the means provided for us that we
may be transformed into His likeness, and be restored to fellowship with the ministering
angels, to harmony and communion with the Father and the Son.