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
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
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!