A GOOD SINNER
By David J. Stewart | February 2018
Romans 3:22b-23, “...there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
I grabbed an old book off my bookshelf today, authored in 1945 by Pastor Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951). The book is titled, “Illustrations Of Bible Truth.” On page 71, there is an illustration called, “A GOOD SINNER,” in which Dr. Ironside states...
“Are you saved, sir?” we asked a gentleman at the close of a gospel-meeting.
“No, I really can't say I am, but I would like to be.”
“Why would you? Do you realize you are a lost sinner?”
“Oh, of course, we are all sinners.”
“Ah! but that often means little or nothing. Are you a sinner yourself?”
“Well, I suppose I am, but I'm not what you could call a bad sinner. I am, I think, rather a good one. I always try to do the best I know.”
“Then my friend, I fear there is little use seeking to show you the way of salvation. Good sinners, together with honest liars, upright thieves, and virtuous scoundrels are far from being ready to submit to the grace of God, which is only for poor, vile, hell-deserving sinners, who have no merits to build on, no goodness to plead, but who are ready to be saved alone by the work of Another, and that One the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Further conversation but elicited the fact that the gentleman was far from being ready to be saved and would, according to his own declaration, rather take “his chances” as he was.
SOURCE: Pastor H.A. Ironside, “Illustrations Of BIBLE TRUTHS,” A GOOD SINNER, pg. 71; © 1945, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.
I often tell people that the hardest part about getting somebody saved is to first get them lost. As Dr. Ironside stated, salvation requires submitting to the grace of God. We read in Romans 10:3-4, “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” That's really what repentance and faith are, that is, submitting to God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ because you have judged yourself as being a guilty sinner.
Whether you esteem yourself as being a good sinner or a bad sinner, or no sinner at all, it doesn't matter, because YOU ARE A HORRIBLE SINNER in God's sight. Romans 3:22b-23, “...there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” I am a woeful sinner too. 1st John 1:10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Anyone who claims not to be a sinner is calling God a liar. Pastor Ironside is making the crucial point in his earlier illustration, that a person MUST realize they are bad enough of a sinner to deserve to be punished in Hell, otherwise why would you need a Savior? If someone argues that they are a good sinner, and don't think they deserve to burn in Hell, then they are not ready to be saved. To be saved you must realize that you are a guilty sinner, deserving of God's wrath. Romans 5:9, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
A Proper Understanding of Law and Grace Makes the Gospel Simple
It is important to understand that people were not saved in the Old Testament by keeping the Mosaic law. The Bible plainly teaches that the law was given for the purpose of revealing to men their sinnership, that “sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:13). The Bible contrasts the LAW and GRACE. The intent of the LAW is to give mankind the knowledge that we are guilty sinners in the sight of a holy God; whereas, God's GRACE offers forgiveness through His righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ...
Romans 3:19-24, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Two of the major reasons why so many people are being led astray concerning the Gospel, is either because they have an incomplete understanding of the Holy Bible, or because they wrongly divide the Scriptures:
INCOMPLETE VIEW OF THE BIBLE — God has made two great divisions of His Word: LAW and GRACE. The Old Testament presents God's law, or Mosaic law. The New Testament presents salvation solely by God's grace. Many churchgoers do not grasp the purpose of the law. Most people errantly think the primary purpose of God's commandments is to keep them, but this is NOT their primary intent. Romans 3:219-20, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” God's primary intent in giving man the law is to show all humanity our sinnership. Galatians 3:24-26, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” If you understand the Scriptures I have just shared with you, then it should be very clear that turning away from sinful behavior, or a desire to turn away from sinful behavior, has absolutely no part in salvation. The purpose of the law is not to compel men to reform, nor to make them “feel” anything, but to give them the KNOWLEDGE that they are guilty sinners in the sight of a holy God, to bring them to Christ (grace) to be saved. If you understand this basic truth, then the role of repentance (thinking differently) in the Gospel becomes very clear.
MIXING LAW AND GRACE — The other main problem in churches today concerning the Gospel is a failure to properly divide law from grace. As we just read in Galatians 3:25, “But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Carefully notice that the believer is NO LONGER UNDER A SCHOOLMASTER. That is, we are no longer under the law. Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The Bible teaches whether Gentile or Jew, salvation is always BY FAITH. Romans 3:28-31, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Please notice in the preceding Scripture passage that the believer, even though no longer under the law concerning salvation, is still expected by God to establish the law in personal righteousness. We are saved by God's imputed righteousness (Romans 4:5-6), but the good deeds produced by the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit is our personal righteousness. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” In other words, we do good works because WE ARE saved, not TO BE saved! Thus, the LAW shows us our need for the dear Savior, Jesus Christ, Who saves us by God's GRACE through faith alone without works. Therefore, with these great truths in view, adding even the slightest requirement to reform one's life, feel sorry (remorse) for sins, change one's sinful ways, or be “willing” to turn away from sinful behavior, utterly perverts the Gospel. The popular teaching in churches today to “repent AND believe” (two actions) is totally unscriptural and a false gospel. The Bible teaches in Acts 20:21 to “repent TO believe” (one action). Repentance is unto the Gospel itself. There is no truth in the universe more important than what I just shared with you my dear friend.
There are many Bible students who get so boggled down in doctrinal matters, that they leave off the basic fundamentals, such as LAW and GRACE. Please keep these two great truths in mind, so you won't be deceived regarding God's plan of salvation for man.
Even the Best Christians Still Sin But Are Completely “Safe” in Christ
One of the most common subjects that my web visitors write to me about is worry over sins in their life. They are concerned that their salvation may be in jeopardy because of deliberate sin in their life. It always rejoices my heart to enlighten them with the Scriptures, letting them know that the only type of life that God offers is “eternal life.” Assurance of salvation is NOT a separate doctrine from eternal security. They are one and the same!
When a believer sins, he or she falls IN GRACE, never FROM GRACE. One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 5:20, “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Thank God for the precious blood of Jesus that washes away every believer's sins.
The Bible teaches about the Judgment Seat of Christ in 2nd Corinthians 5:10-11, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” Notice that the Bible says believers will “receive” for the “good or bad” done in the body. It doesn't mention “sins,” because Christ bore the full weight of our debt of sin on the cross. John 3:18 promises that the believer “is not condemned,” but the unbeliever “is condemned already” for rejecting Jesus Christ. No born-again believer, regardless of how awful sins they may commit as a child of God, can ever be condemned. Romans 8:34, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” I love that Scripture! Who is he that condemneth? That answer is NO ONE!!!
Jesus is our intercessory High Priest, Who is seated on the right hand of the Father, continually interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16). God forbid, a believer may commit murder in one's earthly body, and be condemned by a jury to life in prison, but that believer is spotless in God's eyes as far as their position in Christ is concerned. Dr. Jack Hyles has a wonderful MP3 sermon titled, “How To Be Right With God,” in which he explains the difference between being right with God POSITIONALLY verses CONDITIONALLY. If a believer sins, they will be wrong with God CONDITIONALLY until they repent and get right with the Lord; but POSITIONALLY, a believer is always saved and can never forfeit the free gift of God, which “is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Calvinism is a horrible falsehood, which has infected so many churches these days, and needs to be exposed!
“Is grace truly grace if it cannot be rejected?”
—Dr. Ralph Yankee Arnold, “Calvinism And Grace Are Not Compatible”
For those believers who are afraid to appear before your heavenly Father, let me comfort you with a precious Scripture from 1st Corinthians 11:31, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” If we take care of the problem, then God won't have to. I speak to believers, for there is no way anyone can take care of our sin problem concerning salvation. Galatians 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” When the Bible says in Philippians 2:12 to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” it doesn't say to work out God's salvation. The new birth is completely God's department. Our part is simply to believe the “Good News” of Christ crucified, buried and bodily risen.
But then as a Christian, we are responsible to live right, as we yield to the will of God in obedience to His written Word. We are taught in Philippians 2:12 to have “fear” and “trembling,” that is, taking the things of God seriously. Disobedient believers will face the “terror of the Lord” (2nd Corinthians 5:11) at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and endure God's “hot displeasure” (Psalms 6:1). So, believers who sin are completely “safe” in Jesus, but we do not have God's permission to live in sin, and the Lord will hold us accountable for the “good or bad” (2nd Corinthians 5:10) done in the flesh. What a gracious and precious Savior!!!
“Now you say,
'Brother Hyles, you make an issue.' You dead sure better know I'll make an
—BATTLE OF THE AGES (MP3, Dr. Jack Hyles, “The King James Bible crowd is going to come out on top!”)
Souls Are Dying!
Precious Christian Testimonies
How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008)
of the child of God is that he loves everybody!”
(a quote from Pastor Jack Hyles' classic MP3 sermon, “FORGIVENESS”)
Ye Must Be Born Again! | You Need HIS Righteousness!