God's Diagnosis

But first we have to face the diagnosis of our condition. God's word for our shortcomings is sin, and He is painfully clear about how serious sin is. He warns us that sin is a deceptive power that will destroy us if it goes unchecked in our lives (Romans 1:18-32). He points out that sin is also an enslaving power that soon controls us and leads us to repeated failure (John 8:34; II Peter 2:18-19). Even more painfully, he tells us that sin is serious enough in His eyes to break off our relationship with Him (Isaiah 59:2). At its root, sin is rebellion against God, and He will not tolerate rebellion (Luke 19:11-14). In fact, sin is so serious that it dooms us to spend all eternity banished from God's presence (II Thessalonians 1:8-9).

Worse still, every human, including you and me, deserves this fate, because all of us have sinned and continually fall short of the glorious life God wants us to live (Romans 3:23). If that's news to you or if you have trouble accepting it, I understand. As I mentioned before, I recognize that this whole discussion is pretty disconcerting. The diagnosis of a serious illness is never pleasant. But let me urge you not to react hastily to anything that may be putting you off about all this. We have to admit that God's diagnosis of our condition has the ring of truth, even though it is unsettling. Besides, the way we respond to this diagnosis will have eternal consequences (Matthew 5:3).

There is a way

Like the stubborn old man who refuses to go to the doctor to get his "little lump" checked out, so we sometimes deny the seriousness of our "little imperfections." As is so often true in the case of the tumor, however, so it is with our relationship with God: the situation is far more serious than we like to think about. The unadorned truth is that we are in dire straits spiritually. We desperately need help. We need someone to deliver us from the destructive power and eternal consequences of our sin.

Thankfully, though, there is a way for us to be rescued from our dire predicament. The Bible speaks of this rescue in terms of being "saved." If we are willing to humble ourselves and admit the truth about our spiritual poverty, we can be saved (rescued) from the power and consequences of sin.

But how? How can a person be saved from the controlling power, the devastating consequences and the eternal aftermath of sin?

Next:  The Starting Point