Sin is an overwhelming reality throughout the entire world. Regardless of location, race, ethnicity, or gender, nobody escapes committing sin because all are encumbered with a nature at war with God and thus not subject to His law (Romans 8:7). In fact, mankind commits so much sin that it seems that he is barely able to keep it contained. Satan’s deception is so thorough that most people on earth commit sin without being aware that they are doing it!
The churches of this world have abandoned the law of God and are badly divided by sectarianism. Buried under an avalanche of false doctrines, they give no indication through the witness of their church members that it can rise to offer any effective defense against sin’s pervasive influence. The churches have lost their power.
The world is filled with violence resulting from sin. We are frequently assaulted by lies that are fully intended to mislead us from the truth. Government, business, and individuals try to squeeze every dime out us to increase their profits. We could examine each of the Ten Commandments in this manner, but these few examples give an overview of the undeniable fact that morality – of which God’s laws are the standard – is almost completely swamped by a veritable ocean of sin, with our own among the rest of mankind’s.
That God has not blown up the entire planet is certainly a testament to His confident vision that He can bring something beautiful and good out of what He has made, despite man’s tireless and unrelenting efforts to destroy it. Above all, it speaks superabundantly of His grace. Is there anything in God’s great creation we in our enmity against Him have not attempted to befoul, corrupt, and destroy completely through sin?
This situation cannot get any better unless sinning stops or is stopped. History reveals that life in general can be made marginally better in a given culture for brief periods, which happens occasionally after a devastating war. Early on during a period of peace, when people are too disgusted and exhausted to make war any more, they turn their attention to the far more positive labors of reconstruction. Thus, the quality of life rises because not as many people are sinning so egregiously.
Even so, no government or religion has enough spiritual, moral, or physical power to stop sin in its tracks. Overcoming sin is a very personal problem. It is not just the other person who sins: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In this context, the glory of God is that He, by way of contrast to us, is holy. He does not sin – ever!
Each person must take it upon himself to stop sinning. Nobody can live life for another; the strong godly character of any person cannot be transferred to another. Because of human nature’s deceitful self-centered pull, imitating another’s evil example is relatively easy. All one has to do is to go along with the flow of the crowd. But following true moral instruction and imitating the good works of another so that one does not sin are exceedingly more difficult. Each person must face the truth about his own flawed character, allow himself to be convicted of his need to stop it in its tracks, and then put righteousness into action.
One human cannot stop sin in another, for a person can sin within himself in his lustful thoughts, and no one else even knows it has happened. Overcoming sin is an individual burden each must strive to achieve before God.
Many, having some knowledge of sin, sincerely want to do this. However, the Bible reveals there is a major “catch.” It can be accomplished only in a close, successful relationship with God because the enabling power to overcome sin must be given by God within that relationship.
Once one becomes more thoroughly aware of the exceeding sinfulness of sin within himself – so aware and concerned about what God thinks of him that he wants to do something about its very real existence in his life – it elicits the question, “What must one do?” Notice the word “do.” Does this not indicate activity of some kind? In other words, are we willing to expend some measure of energy – work – to begin stopping sin in our lives?
The person who experiences a deeply felt guilt regarding his sinful nature and broken relationship with God comes to understand from his study of God’s Word – a work in itself – that it frequently appeals to the disciple to keep the commandments of God – another work. Yet, the world so often objects that works are not required for salvation, that one could become confused.
Obviously, something or somebody is wrong somewhere along the line. God’s Word contains no contradictions, and in many places, it definitely commands the doing of works. At least eight times the Bible says we will be judged or rewarded according to our works. Since the Bible does call for works, could people be confused as to precisely when they are to be done?