It is truly dangerous to compare ourselves to OTHER fallen people as our standard of righteousness. God says in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is wicked and deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” The only true standard is the Bible and any other source will give us skewed results! Let me illustrate: A favorite song of mine when I was in my teens in Chicago was “In The Ghetto” by Elvis Presley. I bet you know the lyrics. A baby is born in Chicago’s infamous southside ghetto and his mama cannot afford to raise him. He has very little food and quickly becomes street wise. This young man who is full of street savvy becomes involved with peer groups (gangs) who fight, steal, are full of hate and anger, and eventually kill, become imprisoned, and are killed themselves. The last words of the song refer to the process repeating itself again. The point of this story is: “Except for the grace of God, there go I.” I lived literally only a few miles from where this story took place. Repetition drives the point home, so here is another illustration the Lord gave me: The people of Germany submitted to Adolf Hitler in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The erroneous conclusion of many is that because of Hitler’s wickedness, the German people all share in his wickedness. This has undoubtably been the conclusion of many people through the years who were on the outside and looking in. But wait! If you know history, then you realize that the Treaty of Versailles that was forced upon Germany after World War I made them a very poor country. You realize that hyperinflation made one loaf of bread cost thousands of dollars! How can anyone understand what really happened in Germany unless they lived there? So when Adolf Hitler built the German Autobahn Highway and promised a Volkswagon in every garage, people were more than receptive to the assurance of an improved economy. I have met Americans who were from Germany during World War II, and felt as if they needed to defend themselves to me and tell me they had nothing to do with Hitler’s wickedness. If you and I lived in Germany during the scourge of the evil Nazi S.S. and the Third Reich, we may lose our judgmental attitude towards those who suffered in Germany during this time.
Yes indeed! God, His Word and His truth are our standards. …….and we all fall short. Read in Genesis chapter 20 how Abimelech inferred to God that because he was good, he did not take Abraham’s wife for himself. God then told Abimelech in verse 6b: “…I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.” Do you think He has ever kept you and me from sinning? Is that not why in the Lord’s prayer we say: “…and lead us not into temptation?” The mature believer does not equivocate about their trespasses. I have found that hardened sinners often make the best converts. By the way, the Lord insinuates too, that this is the case, when He states that “he who is forgiven greatly loves greatly.” This is what Mary Magdalene is all about. Seven demons were cast out of her, and her trademark is “last at the cross and first at the tomb.” Jesus had to lightly admonish her for clinging to Him because she loved Him so. One of the greatest blessings that God can give a Christian is a total honest understanding of their own sins and a repentant heart to meet the need! When a person has a true understanding of these two themes, then placing their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation will be the natural next step. As the hymn says so beautifully: “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”