Every sincere Christian has probably felt the same emotion the apostle Paul did when he wrote that he was “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8). No one, except God, knows the unholy thoughts, the less than pure motives, and the unrighteous deeds that have stained my life better than I do, and I suspect the same is true in your life as well. Who can remember the total number of such transgressions we committed in the passing of a single week in that period before we became Christians? We can only say there were many.
Some were worse than others. Those of us who were total reprobates may have averaged a sin a minute. Every other word was profanity or a curse. The filth poured out of our mouths in a never-ending putrid stream. We swore and blasphemed all that was holy. We lied, stole, committed fornication, and drank until we were senseless. We swindled, deceived, and cheated those around us. We hated and slandered, and were hated and slandered in return, then we fought those we hated. All this seemed normal, for we were people of the world, and this is the way of the world. It is also the way of death, for our sins piled up to massive proportions.
Lest you compare yourself with reprobates and begin congratulating yourself, you should look candidly at your own life before you were baptized and see the mountain of sins for which you were liable. You may not have been as depraved as some—perhaps you exercised some semblance of restraint much of the time. Still, if one word were chosen which would characterize your life, would it not have to be “selfishness”? Even those good things you said and did were not to glorify your heavenly Father, were they? They were really motivated by selfishness, and, of course, all your actions and words were not righteous. Indeed, can you even give a ballpark figure of the number of times you committed sinful acts, spoke sinful words, and had sinful thoughts? When you add together all the weeks and years you lived in rebellion to God, even a rough estimate of all those offenses is truly staggering!
It should also be remembered that this is true of every human of accountable age. The most polished gentleman, the daintiest woman, the rich, the powerful, the poor, the beautiful, the plain, the celebrity, the professor, the student, the tribesman, the scientist—and you and me; we all alike stand condemned and hopeless because of the sins each one of us has committed.
Facing the enormity of my sins, I forget, at least for a moment, what others have or have not done. Divine justice demands the forfeit of my life as payment for my sins (Rom. 6:23), and though I deserve it, this places me in a completely hopeless position from which I cannot extricate myself. I am not alone, however, for my condition is also the dilemma of every other soul on this planet.
It is only as we comprehend what spiritual death is (separation from God and His blessings), and what our utter hopelessness involves, that we can truly appreciate what Christ did on our behalf. It was not because we were such beautiful people, or so worthy, that the Son of God willingly emptied Himself of His glory and came to this earth. He endured the insults and abuse, the blasphemy and rejection of those He came to save, because He loved His heavenly Father above all things, and He loved man with a perfect love. He was determined to do the will of His Father, because true love for God can only be expressed in this way (1 John 5:3; 2 John 6). He willed that which was good for man to such an extent He was willing to bear the humiliation, the physical pain, and spiritual agony of Gethsemane and the cross to do for man what man was unable to do for himself. He gave His life and shed His blood to pay what divine justice demanded from each one of us.
It is impossible to fully comprehend the depths of such a love, but we glory in it and are thankful for it far beyond our ability to express in words. However, God tells us that men always express true appreciation and love by being drawn to that One who gave so much for them (John 12:32) and submitting, through faith, to the conditions their Savior gave by which they can be saved from their sins (John 14:15).