Most people think that there are bad people in the world, but almost nobody thinks that they are a bad person. However, people who are genuinely close to God, are the exceptions. They seem to readily admit that they are bad people.
Paul of Tarsus called himself “the chief of sinners.” He said: “O wretched man that I am,” and “I know that within me, that is within myself, is no good thing.”
Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet said: “I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.”
John Newton, who wrote the song Amazing Grace, said: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
The truth is, all human beings are bad people. Isaiah wrote: “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone one to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him (Christ) the iniquity of us all.”
20th Century Russian author, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, put it this way: “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
We all have evil in our heart and but for moral upbringing, our conscience, painful consequences, societal restrictions, the conviction of God in our heart, and law enforcement, any human being can express evil actions as well as another one. History and the observation of human behavior, show us that unrestrained human desire always leads to evil.
As an example take the looting in Baghdad after the US invasion and New Orleans after Katrina. When the rule of law and law enforcement are removed, the evil in human hearts comes out.
We humans are bad people. That’s why Christianity makes so much sense. It truly describes the human condition. And it gives good news to bad people. “The consequences that your wrongful thoughts and behaviors have earned you, have been inflicted on Jesus Christ. He has taken your punishment and now your guilt is paid for and removed. You can now, as a bad person be forgiven and made whole and enter into a life-transforming relationship with the living, resurrected Jesus Christ that makes you free, not only form the punishment of your wrongdoing and wrongful thinking, but also have the supernatural power to overcome them.”
Wow! Jesus put it this way: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
I recently spoke to a small group of homeless men and women today. I started by asking: How many of you are bad people? Only two people raised their hand: me and one guy. (I wonder how many hands would go up in an affluent group of people.) Then I shared how the Bible teaches that “there is none righteous, no not one,” and that we are all bad — lawbreakers and rebels before the holy God; and that we desperately need Christ to forgive us and to set us free from our badness.
Tears began to run down one man’s cheeks and he cried the whole time I was talking. Afterwards he walked over to a corner, sat down, put his head in his hands, and wept uncontrollably.
I asked if I could pray with him and he nodded. Weeping, he apologized to God for his sin and asked Him to forgive him and Christ to come into his life. It was truly an amazing thing to see!
Where there’s no guilt, there’s no grace. When we make sin acceptable, we reject God’s salvation. “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”