Words On The WORD
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Subject: Salvation

Against one of the city’s many storefronts, there he sat. His clothes, worn and torn, were stained and foul. As he mutely sat in partial repose, one pant leg was partially hiked between ankle and knee, exposing angry abscesses, red with infection. To hid the oozing sores, he had placed bits of newspaper over his ugly lesions. But blood trickled down his leg, defeating his feeble attempt to cover his open wounds. Feeling revulsion, I hurriedly turned away, but quickly my feelings changed to compassion. After all, I didn’t know the circumstances that had caused this poor man, who was seemingly without hope, to sit in despair on the crowded and unsympathetic streets of New York City.

Years later the image of this homeless man leaped to mind. What picture, I reasoned, could be more representative of both our sin nature and our need for the saving grace of Jesus Christ? As disgusting as this comparison may be, it is quite accurate! Agreeably, this is a most unflattering portrayal, but, sadly, it is a description of both you and me – a picture vividly presented in the Word of God. “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6). You see, in the sight of God we, too, are soiled and foul!

But we aren’t filthy in God’s eyes because of our outward appearance. It is the ‘inner’ us that God witnesses; the ‘inner’ us that we easily conceal from the world. The world perceives the persona we wish to present; God sees sin; He sees an ungodly heart, a heart blackened by sin! Mark 7:21-23)

Sin is like an infection, eating away at the godliness of man. It dirties the soul, poisons the heart and contaminates the mind. Yet, just as that poor man attempted unsuccessfully to hid his infected sours with it of paper, we endeavor in vain to conceal our ugly sins with works.

By living respectable lives and performing good works, we hope to win God’s approval, but God witnesses only the sin that flows from our hearts. It is our sin, and not our works, that is visible to God. (Jeremiah 16:17) “O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid from thee” (Psalm 69:5). Until and unless we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our works are meaningless!

Just as infection was coursing throughout this man’s body; sin is coursing through outs. Without the cleansing power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we are all unregenerate sinners; filthy to the core (Romans 3:23).

But we need not remain contaminated by sin; possessing a heart that oozes unbelief toward the saving grace of Jesus Christ! Unlike that poor man who appeared to have been defeated by life, we can conquer sin through death – through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Jesus said “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)

We can wave our works before God as a banner for salvation, but works neither hide sin, nor earn us eternal salvation. Salvation comes only through the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; not through our meager efforts. Our works rather big or small signify nothing to God unless we have accepted His Son as our personal savior! (Proverbs 28:13)

What befell that homeless man, I don’t know. I do know, however, that according to Scripture unless our sins are washed as white a snow (I John 1:7; Hebrews 9:22; Psalm 51:7), we will remain as filthy rags, soiled and foul, in the sight of God!

Nancy Hamilton

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