I can’t recall where I came across it, but it’s something I’ve found true in my life of faith. Someone once told me, or perhaps I read it somewhere, that the more you grow in faith the more you recognize the depth of your sin. As we grow in our understanding of the Word of God, as we grow in our understanding of the gospel, the greatness of our sin is better realized.
As we encounter the gospel for the very first time, the reality of our sin is acknowledged. After all, it’s our sin that has brought condemnation upon us. We are in need of a Savior because of our guilt.
However, and it seems this is largely the state of Christians in our nation today, we don’t think we are all that bad. Overall, we think of ourselves as pretty good people. We tend to think that, although we sin, our desires and intentions are basically good.
We look at our outward adherence to the Ten Commandments as the measure of our sin. If we haven’t stolen, if we haven’t killed anyone, and if we’ve remained faithful to our spouse, we think we’re doing pretty well. Even though we may acknowledge that fact that we’re a sinner, we don’t believe our sin is all that great.
We learn in time that, even if we haven’t outwardly broken God’s commands, we have done so internally. We've done so in our heart. We find that our heart desires not to obey the Lord, but to disobey.
Although we haven’t physically murdered anyone, we haven’t desired their well-being. In fact, we’ve often desired their harm. We may not have taken what doesn’t belong to us, but we haven’t sought to preserve our neighbor’s wealth and property. We may not have cheated on our spouse, but adulterous desires have filled both our heart and mind.
We then run across the words of Scripture that describe our true condition. For example, in Ephesians 2:1, Paul says that we were dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once walked. In Colossians 1:21, he says that we were alienated and hostile in mind. And in Romans 5:10, Paul says that we were enemies of God.
We learn that we’re not a mostly innocent people who occasionally slip up. We're not a mostly good people who make the occasional mistake. Our natural state is one of hostility and enmity toward God. It not only resists the will of God, but actively opposes it.
Although this may seem discouraging, it makes the gospel that much sweeter. It reveals to us the greatness of God’s love. It shows the immensity of the grace he has lavished upon us.
Completing Paul’s thought in Colossians 1, he says: “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him…”
Our sin is greater than we can imagine. However, despite our condition, God has reconciled us to himself by the death of his Son. In this way, and in this way alone, are we counted holy and blameless before him.