YOU ARE LIKELY IN THE WORST POSSIBLE TROUBLE AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT
Jesus Christ painted a picture in Matthew 13:47-50 that tells the tale of the trouble in which a vast majority of the earth’s population right now finds itself. You should consider whether it could be you too. In Jesus’ illustration, people are portrayed as objects in water around which a fisherman’s net is being drawn. The net closes in on both good and bad until finally it is cinched up, pulled tight, and captures everything inside of it. Before that, everything within the net either swims or floats completely oblivious to the sure end that approaches. Here are those Words of Jesus:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Most people don’t even consider this approaching judgment. They are also entirely unaware of the offense they are to God and what that means for now and eternity. The worst trouble for people has nothing to do with economics, politics, or material things—it is the trouble they are in with God. Perhaps you either do not think that you are sinful enough, that God will simply overlook your sin out of some false understanding of the Lord’s mercy, or that sometime in the future you’ll still be able to take care of your sin problem. What is true is that most men are experiencing the mercy of God right now as they live, since God is giving them further opportunity to be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 makes this point when it says that God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Ezekiel 33:11 adds this truth about God: “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” So you’ve not tasted the wrath of God already only because of His mercy.
You are right now wicked enough to deserve God’s punishment. Just one sin is enough. James 2:10 states: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” And everyone has offended in at least one point, even as Romans 3:23 tells us: ” For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Consider the following further evidence of your sinful condition. Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Romans 3:10-12, “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Ecclesiastes 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” 1 Kings 8:46, “There is no man that sinneth not.”
Even though you might admit you’re a sinner, you might still think you’re a good person. Both Matthew 19:17 and Mark 10:18 record Jesus saying, “There is none good but one, that is, God.” You can’t be both a sinner and a good person. No sinner (and you are one) is a good person.
God is offended with your sin. Psalm 7:11 says, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Habbakuk 1:13 reveals about God: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” It’s in the nature of men to be deceived about their own sinfulness and the consequences of their sin. Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” 1 John 1:8: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Galatians 6:7: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
God will not overlook your sin. When people think of death, most often they think of physical death. Yet, because of your sin, you are already dead spiritually, separated from God because of your sin. Ephesians 2:1, 5 says you are “dead in sins.” To God you are already dead spiritually even before you ever die physically. You already know you’ll die physically. Hebrews 9:27 says that “it is appointed unto men once to die.” Romans 6:23 reminds us that “the wages of sin is death.” But what’s even worse is after you die physically, when your sin continues to separate you from God, and then forever in Hell. Revelation 21:8 explains: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” 1 Corinthians 6:9 asks: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” Because “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), you should “prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). You are in far more trouble than you likely think, even if you look around and think that life is going well for you. You are deceived and hopeless, if you do not have peace with God. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked (Isaiah 57:21).”
So how do you get out of the trouble you’re in? God has provided a way of escape for you! Your penalty for sin is death, but there is good news! Jesus died for you! That’s right—in your place! Romans 5:6 and 8 say: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 Corinthians 15:3 states that “Christ died for our sins.” 1 Peter 2:24 reveals concerning Jesus: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” And Isaiah 53:5-6: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” These verses teach that even though we deserve punishment for sin, Jesus substituted for us and suffered for us the punishment for sin that we deserved. God is just and must punish sin, but Jesus paid the penalty for sin when He died on the cross. Hebrews 10:12 says “he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever.”
You may wonder how that one man’s death by crucifixion over 2000 years ago could pay the penalty of your sin. The truth is that Jesus wasn’t and isn’t only a man. He is God. 1 Timothy 3:16 reminds us that “God was manifest in the flesh” in Jesus Christ. Speaking of Jesus, John 1:1, 14 say, ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Jesus was God and was made flesh and dwelt among us. Since Jesus, as God, was Himself without sin, He didn’t Himself deserve a penalty for sin. Jesus could die for us, which is why 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”
That’s how you can get out of trouble, but how do you get out of trouble? First, you can’t just ignore the trouble you’re in. That’s what most people do. They want to assume that everything will still work out for them, even in their sins. That’s not true. Scripture says you must believe in Jesus Christ. John 3 says this three times—in v. 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” in v. 18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” and in v. 36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” In those verses, God’s Word says that if we believe in Jesus Christ, we won’t be punished for sin and we will have everlasting life.
Sin is the problem, but through faith in Christ our sins are forgiven and we are declared righteous by Almighty God. This is called being “justified.” Romans 5:1 say that “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we believe in Jesus, we are declared righteous before God, that is, justified. Our works cannot justify us before God. Galatians 2:16 makes this very clear: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Salvation by faith in Christ is free. Ephesians 2:8-9 read: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” To believe in Jesus, we must not depend on our works to be saved. Romans 11:6 says that “if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” We can’t be saved, except by the grace of God, works excluded—by faith alone.
What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ? There are two parts to believing in Jesus. First, He must be Jesus, the only Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. That Jesus is God, Lord, and Savior. If you believe in Him, it must be Him. Second, it must be true belief. There is a kind of faith that will not save, that is only intellectual. It is more than knowing that Jesus is God, Lord, and Savior. We must believe in Him. We see part of what it means to believe in Luke 13:3, 5, where Jesus says in both verses: “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” John 3:16 says that if we believe, we won’t perish. Luke 13:3, 5 say that if we don’t repent, we will perish. Part of what it means to believe is to repent. “Repent” means “to turn.” Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” We must turn from going our way to going Jesus’ way. Jesus describes it this way in Matthew 16:25: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it..” We must give up our life, our own temporal life, in order to get eternal life. Jesus also said in Matthew 10:38, “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”
One last place that we can learn what it means to believe in Jesus is Romans 10:9-10, 13, which says: ” That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Believing in Jesus Christ means confessing Jesus is your Lord and calling on Him to save you from sin and hell.
2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” When you understand your true condition and your need for salvation, you will be ready to receive Jesus Christ. For more information about salvation or for answers to other questions from the Bible, call Bethel Baptist Church in El Sobrante, CA at 510-223-9550.