This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
In the first Constitutional Convention four men—Roger Sherman, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris, and James Madison—spoke a total of 637 times. Were I, with all wisdom and eloquence, to speak ten times 637 times on “Sin and the Sinner’s Saviour,” I could not describe the ruinous ravages of sin and the greatness of the sinner’s sinless Saviour.
What am I to believe about God? Man? Sin? Salvation? Life? Death? Hell? Heaven? The future life? The Bible answers. The Bible teaches that—
Sin Is A Reality
Listen! “Jews and Gentiles … are all under sin” (Rom. 3:9). “All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Rom. 5:12). “Let not sin reign in your mortal body” (Rom. 6:12). “God sending his own Son … [a sin offering], condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). “Sin hath reigned unto death” (Rom. 5:21). “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas. 1:15).
These Bible statements show that sin was and is in the life of all men—except Jesus Christ, in whom was no sin. Every man must say, “I have sinned.” And unpardoned sin, ever a terror, disturbs hardened souls. Lady Macbeth dreams that she sees “the damned spot” of sin upon her hand and that she cannot get it washed off. King Macbeth, in his guilty imagination, thinks he sees the airy phantom of a dagger. Both confirm Shakespeare’s belief and your belief that conscience hath one thousand different tongues, that every tongue brings in a separate tale, and that every tale condemns you for your sin. And sin is in you as surely as in Adam, who ruined a whole race; or David, who said, “My sin is ever before me”; or Mary Magdalene, who had seven devils; or Peter, who denied Jesus; or Judas, who betrayed Jesus; or the rich young ruler, who would not give up earthly wealth for heavenly riches; or the swine herdsmen of Gadara, who asked Jesus to “depart out of their coasts”; or Saul of Tarsus, who “destroyed them which called on Jesus’ name” (Acts 9:21).
Ghastly great among life’s factors is the fact of sinplague and tragedy of the world, death’s-head set amidst life’s feast, quintessence of all horrors, cause of all world suffering. And we know that—
Sin Is Ruin
Though many relish sin with impenitent hardness of heart, still sin is the nightmare of the human race.
Though certain scientists tell us that sin is an upward stumble in man’s progress, still sin is the evil that subverted the constitutional order of man’s nature and destroyed the harmony of his powers.
Though some philosophers teach that sin is goodness in the making and that modern “prodigal sons” are only expressing themselves into a higher experience, still “the wages of sin is death.”
Though some tell us that sin is just a disagreeable hindrance to the smooth ongoing of the social machinery, still sin is no light discord but a thunderbolt that crashes life’s organ into splinters.
Though some psychologists say sin is egotistic abnormality, still sin is madness in the brain, poison in the heart, frenzy in the imagination, leprous pollution in the blood, blindness of eyes, deafness of ears, prostitution of tongues, palsy of feet, withering of hands—the black darkness that invests man’s whole being.
Though some theologians lighten man’s sense of the enormity of sin, still sin is the curse of all curses.
The only thing true about the teaching that makes sin “the backward pull of outworn good” is that it is a lie—because sin abuses the authority of God interposed in his law; abuses God’s justice as though he would not punish; abuses God’s power as though the sinner’s breath was not in God’s hand; abuses God’s wisdom as if God’s laws were not right and reasonable; abuses God’s omniscience as if he did not see all our ways; abuses God’s threatenings as if they were not to be feared; abuses God’s promises as if they were lies; abuses Christ as though he were a deceiver and a devil; abuses Christ’s death, blood, righteousness, salvation.
Whether we say sin is transgression, overstepping the divine boundary between good and evil—or iniquity, an act inherently wrong whether expressly forbidden or not—or error, departure from the right—or missing the mark, failure to meet the divine standard—or trespass, the intrusion of self-will into the sphere of divine authority—or lawlessness, which is spiritual anarchy—or unbelief, insult to divine veracity, still we know that sin, which originated with Satan (Isa. 14:12–14) and entered the world through Adam (Rom. 5:12), was, and is, universal, Christ alone excepted (Rom. 3:23 and 1 Pet. 2:22).
When sin reigns, deadly is your soul’s state. Sin, insidious like disease, ruins like rot. Sin darkens your understanding, defiles your conscience, ossifies your will, hardens your heart, disorders all the affection God wishes you to maintain. Sin puts your soul under the sentence of God. But from sin’s ruin you can get—
Sin incurs the penalties of spiritual and physical death. Where is relief to be found? In God’s forgiveness.
Sin is debt; God’s forgiveness and God’s acceptance of the crimson coin of Christ’s blood the payment for that debt.
Sin is a cloud; God’s forgiveness the sun which does away with the cloud.
Sin is strain; God’s forgiveness the fire which burns out the dross.
Sin is darkness; God’s forgiveness the light which dispels it.
Sin is a burden; God’s forgiveness the removal of it.
Sin is a corpse—the “body of death” (Rom. 7:24); God’s forgiveness the burial of that corpse in the depths of the sea.
Sin is poison; God’s forgiveness the antidote.
Sin is captivity; God’s forgiveness freedom.
Sin is a blotted and blurred record; God’s forgiveness the erasure of that record.
Sin is death; God’s forgiveness Christ’s meritorious life substituted for your forfeited life.
What relief to experience the truth that “where sin abounded grace doth much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20–21), “set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins … that he (God) might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25–26). Think of the—
You have no remedy for your sin except in the sacrificial death of Christ who “appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26) and to whom is given the only name “under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And this remedy in Christ is available by faith, because through Christ “is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38–39).
“Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3). “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). God “hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
From sin’s death, how is the sinner, “dead in trespasses and sins,” made alive? From bondage so galling and servitude so severe, how is the captive made free? Jesus said, “He that heareth my word and believeth … is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). That’s how. John said, “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). That’s how. Paul said, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). That’s how.
Jesus Christ, the everlasting source of human salvation, is your Saviour, through faith in him. He only, by a work consistent with the character of God, can break the power which holds you in chains, avert the punishment which threatens you, fortify with fresh sanctions the law which you have broken and, reconciling justice with mercy, open to you the fountains of grace. Through Christ the law is vindicated, the holiness of God is doubly honoured and mercy is offered to you because “Christ receiveth sinful men.”
The sinner’s Saviour received the wages of sin which he never earned that you might have eternal life which you never deserved. Christ went to the pit that you might sit on his throne; went into awful gloom that you might enter into glory; was sold that you might ransomed be; was unjustly judged that you might escape the severity of God’s judgments; was scourged that by his stripes you might be healed; became for you, on the cross, all that God must judge, that you, through faith in Christ, might become all that God cannot judge.
The sinner’s Saviour, the perfectly righteous One, was judged as unrighteous that you, the unrighteous one, through faith in him, might be judged as righteous.
The sinner’s Saviour stood before God with all your sins upon himself that you might stand before God with none of your sins upon yourself.
When the Squalus crew realized that they had taken their last dive and that they were lying helpless at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, two hundred and forty feet below the surface, they sent up smoke flares and a buoy. Would one of the sister ships find them, and if so could they be rescued? Their help must come from above. In agonizing silence they waited.
Soon after that fatal dive the submarine Sculpin set out in search. The red smudge was found, then the buoy. But twenty-four hours passed before actual rescue work could be started. A giant ten-ton diving bell dipped and rose again and again, each time taking several men alive from those awful depths, until all thirty-three men alive in the submarine had been rescued,
When that huge diving bell came down for the Squalus crew, not one sailor refused to be rescued, but all gladly accepted the way to safety.
When the Sculpin sent down the ten-ton diving bell, not one of the thirty-three men said, “I will think it over,” or “There are hypocrites on the Sculpin and I want nothing to do with them” or “I will wait for a more convenient season.” Not one said, “I am in good condition as I am” or “I will wait until I get married” or “There is too much to give up.” Not one said, “I am waiting for a loved one or friend” or “I do not understand the workings of the diving bell” or “Sometime I will” or “I don’t feel like being rescued” or “Tomorrow I will ask rescue.” Not one of them found fault with the Sculpin crew—as some find fault with the preacher. Not one of them said, “I can hold out” or “Next year will be soon enough.” All gladly accepted the way to safety.
Christ is ready to forgive—to save. Highest willingness has he. Will you be wise today to get rid of your sin? Would you continue as an impenitent sinner and “nourish your heart as in the day of slaughter?” Will you treasure up wrath “against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God?”
The day of wrath is not yet come. This day of grace is yours. God acquits—through Christ Jesus. God declares you free from guilt through your trust in Jesus “whom they hanged on a tree” (Acts 10:39), “who bare our sins in his own body … that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Who, then, can condemn you? You are eternally safe—against the day of calamity coming, the day of judgment coming, the day of death coming, the day of Christ’s coming.
O young sinner, come to Jesus. God says, “They that seek me early shall find me” (Prov. 8:17). Quicker than a speeding wheel turns on its axle, quicker than swiftest wing ever moved in flight, come to Jesus. He says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). And you who are older, who have long been dead in sin, come quickly out of your grave. The Lord Jesus calls you. Come! Come now! Come more quickly than ever wounded man cried for a doctor. Come more quickly than ever drowning man reached for a lifeboat. Come today, even while I speak. And Jesus will glorify his name in your salvation.
Robert G. Lee stands at the climax of a lifetime of service in the Southern Baptist Convention, which he served as president from 1948–51. Since 1927 he has been pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn. and has won a national following as a pulpit orator. He is author of 23 books, many of them being volumes of his sermons.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more