For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:13-14
NOTE: This post was adapted from a sermon I shared for The Fortress’s weekly gathering at Harvest Church on June 16, 2021.
In Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, there’s a scene where the Avengers begin evacuating a city. Quicksilver, one of the Avengers, rushes into a police station and shouts, “We’re under attack! Clear the city! Now!” But not realizing the danger they’re in, nobody pays any attention to him and they all go back to what they were doing. So Quicksilver grabs a machine gun out of a cop’s hands and fires it into the air, demanding that they get going. This stirs everybody to action as they all start moving.
The point is if you don’t understand that you’re in danger, you’ll have little regard for the hero who comes to rescue you.
But when you understand the depth of the danger you need rescue from, you’ll be in awe of your Savior.
The Danger Within
Charles Spurgeon once preached on Luke 7:36-50, saying, “Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore lightly of a Savior. He who has stood before His God, convicted, and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honor of the Redeemer by Whose blood he has been cleansed.”
The great danger we face and need rescue from the most is not any danger that surrounds us, but the danger of sin within us. How deeply we grasp this danger lurking within us will determine how deeply in awe of the Savior we will be.
An Honest View of Our Own Sin
The account of Jesus’ visit to the home of Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7:36-50 provides a clear contrast between Simon the Pharisee, and a woman who, in awe of the Savior who had forgiven her, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears.
In his own mind, Simon thought his sin was little, so forgiveness was of little value to him. But the woman understood the depth of her own sin. She knew she had much she needed to be forgiven for. She was under a debt to God she knew she could never pay. Where Simon compared his sin to the woman’s and thought he came out better, the woman saw her sin in comparison to a perfectly holy and righteous God, which moved her to celebrate the grace and forgiveness she received through Jesus and to worship him in a deeply personal way by washing his feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, and anointing them with ointment.
Like with Simon the Pharisee, an awareness of other people’s sin more than our own is prevalent in our nation today. It seems to be a key ingredient in cancel culture, where people’s pasts are poured through by political or ideological enemies to find embarrassing comments, views, or mistakes that are then used to publicly embarrass and shame them.
But the danger of being constantly aware of everyone else’s sin far more than our own sin is that we begin to think that we’re righteous because everyone else is so sinful. Jesus said, however, that he didn’t come for those who think they are righteous already. He says in Luke 5:30-31, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
If you only focus on other people’s sin, you will miss both the disease devastating your own life and the Savior who has come to save you from it. We must turn away from building for ourselves a false righteousness based on the sins of other people and accept the perfect righteousness Jesus offers to us when we place our faith in him.
A Deeper Awe of Our Savior
Just like with the woman, when we humbly come to God for forgiveness of our sin, a transformed life will be the result. Those who are forgiven much will love much. Those who have little need for forgiveness will love little. (Luke 7:47) Once forgiven, our lives will be filled with worship toward the One who has forgiven us. We will be moved to love Him and also to love others. And we will also find peace with God. As Jesus tells the woman, so too he says to all who come to him in faith for forgiveness of their sin, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
An honest view of our own sin will lead us to a deeper awe of our Savior. And a deeper awe of our Savior will lead us to a life full of worship, love, and peace.