I Am Sinful
Advent 2021, Week 2
By Josh Smith
Week Two Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10
One of my favorite parts of winter is the beauty of snow and ice. When ice hugs the branches of trees, they seem to gleam with delight. Gazing across an untouched, snow-laden field is absolutely breathtaking.
The beauty of the ice and snow doesn’t last forever, though. If you’ve been to a Walmart parking lot in January or February, you know what I mean. When the snow plows come through, they create mountains of frozen sludge that lasts until April, in some cases.
If I were to compare God’s created world to a winter snow, it would look like that. When God created the world, everything was as pristine, beautiful, and good as the morning after an eight-inch snow.
But when Adam sinned, the good and beautiful snow was transformed into a dirty, smelly, repulsive mountain of sludge. While everything that made up the original beauty of it originally was still present, something else was added that disgusts anyone who looks at or comes near it.
When holy God created humanity, he created us as perfect, spotless, and innocent. When Adam and Eve added sin to the mix, death took the throne of humanity’s hearts. As a result, every person born into the world was born into sin and death.
This doesn’t mean that we were born with the capacity to sin; it means that we were born as sinners. R.C. Sproul summarizes the sinfulness of humanity in this way: “We aren’t sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.”
In Ephesians 2, we read, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (v. 1). The Apostle Paul pulls no punches here. We are dead in sin while, at the same time, we walk and live in sin (vv. 2-3).
In other words, the sin that we walk and live in is merely a symptom of a greater and more tragic reality: at our core, we are sinners. It’s not that we were drowning in our sin; it’s that we had drowned in it. There was no escape. If we were to be saved, we would need a new life entirely. We can’t take the dirt out of our snow-sludge; rather, we need to become a new snow entirely.
This is why Jesus had to be born: because dead people can’t save themselves. If God is holy, then God has to punish sin. This is why Paul says, “we were by nature children under wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). God has to punish sin. Left to ourselves, left in our sinful nature, God has to punish us. This is why Jesus had to be born.
Whereas, every human since Adam was born in sin, Christ, the second Adam, was born without sin so that he might save humanity from their sin, making them white as snow once more (Isaiah 1:18). All of this happened because God, in his holiness, is also rich in grace and great in love for us (Ephesians 2:4).
This Advent, let’s not forget why Jesus was born: because we are utterly helpless in our sin. God Is Holy. I Am Sinful. The grace and love God shows us in Jesus are that much more beautiful when we see just how ugly and disgusting we are as sinners. Praise God that he didn’t leave us in our sin though! More on this next week.
Until then, spend some time this Christmas season meditating on how much you really need Jesus. Because, in our sin, we are nothing. Jesus Christ is everything. In Jesus Christ, dead sinners are raised to new life.
Reflection Question: If you are in Christ today, what remnants of “sludge” cling to your life?
Prayer: Father, forgive our sin and rebellious hearts and give us the grace to forgive those who sin against us. Let us see our sin the way that you see our sin, as mountains of dirty, disgusting sludge. Teach us to see your ways as truly beautiful.