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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
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 can not 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 can not
change the heart; they can not 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 can not 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; 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 he 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,
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 redemption.
O, 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 degradation of 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.
Translate more chapters:
- Faith and Acceptance
- The Test of Discipleship
- Growing up into Christ
- The Work and the Life
- A Knowledge Of God
- The Privilege of Prayer
- What to Do With Doubt
- Rejoicing In the Lord