How can you be a good person and still be a sinner?

Dear Pastor Charles: I attend church regularly and enjoy being a part of a church family. However, I have a problem that I do not feel comfortable in expressing to my Pastor. I hope you can help me. My problem is that when my Pastor is preaching, he often mentions that we are all sinners. I consider myself to be a good and moral person. I believe in God and try to do my best to help people and to do what God wants me to do. So why does my Pastor think that I am a sinner? Is he just generalizing or do you think he specifically means everyone, including me? Please help. Moral Mary.


Dear Moral Mary:
  

    The next time you see your Pastor, give him a hug and thank him for having the courage to preach the whole truth of God’s Word from the pulpit. We are living in a time when it is getting harder to find preachers who give the whole counsel of God to their congregations. The reason for that is the essence of your question. Our human nature desires to hear good and pleasant things said about it. It wants to be gently stroked and told that it is good and pure and wonderful in the sight of God and man. It makes us feel comfortable and cozy inside. We naturally respond to the person who flatters our ego by saying good things about us. That kind of preacher will never make waves in his congregation. He will never stand against evil, especially if it can readily be found in the pews of his own church. The reason is that it might cost him his livelihood because people will not like him for saying unpleasant things. 

    That kind of preacher will one day stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and give a full account of his actions. The Lord might say something like this:“My people were perishing in their sins. I sent you to them to warn them and to lead them in the paths righteousness but you didn’t tell them the whole truth. Oh, you told them, all right, that I love them and that I desire to have fellowship with them and that I want to bless them, but you failed to delivered My message that they needed to repent of their sins and turn to Me for forgiveness. You failed to point out to them that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.(Romans 3:23)” and that “… the wages of sin is death.(Romans 6:23)”Therefore, they are perishing for their sins, but their blood is upon your hands.” My friend, a preacher who does not preach the entire Word of God is worse than a heretic. In fact, he becomes an instrument in hands of Satan, sending the church of God off to sleep with sweet nothings whispered into their itching ears. Thank your Pastor if he loves you more than his job by being willing to tell you the truth, even if it hurts a little bit.

    
    Now Mary, I do not doubt for a minute that you are a good person. In fact, you sound like the kind of person that any Pastor would love to have in his congregation. You may even be so good when compared to others that the difference is as night and day. That is the basic problem that we all have. We tend to compare ourselves to others. If we compare ourselves to someone we consider better than us, then we are tempted by envy, which is sin, and can actually lead to hatred and murder. I’m thinking of Cain who was envious of his brother Abel’s sacrifice. If we compare ourselves to someone who has a very obvious flaw in their character, then we are tempted by self-righteousness, which is pride, which is sin. Now I am thinking of the Pharisee who stood praying in the temple and said, “Oh God, I’m glad I’m not like other men, and certainly not like that wicked tax collector back there.”

    
    The only thing that Christians should compare themselves to is the Word of God. When we take an honest look into the mirror of the Word, we will find out that none of us measure up to God’s standards. The Prophet Isaiah said that our righteousness is like filthy rags compared to God’s righteousness. That means that the very best of humanity will always fall short of the Divine. There is a very good reason for this. It means that in order to be right with God and to have fellowship with Him, we are going to need the help of a Savior.

    
    Mary, even if you could lead a perfect life and somehow manage to avoid all sin (which you can’t), you would still bear the guilt of original sin that all human beings share because of the fall of Adam and Eve. So you see, apart from God there is no perfection. God made very sure in His plan for the ages that we would always need Him, no matter how independent and how moral we might become.

    
    My advice to you is this. Ask God to show you where you fall short of His glory in your life. Ask Him to remove the blinders of pride for a few minutes and to let you see yourself the way that He would see you, without the righteousness of Christ for your covering. Then you will understand what your Pastor is trying to tell you. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” My prayer for you is that God will open your eyes to the truth of His Word and to the glory that is Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

                                                                                                                                              May God bless and keep you always. 
                                                                                                                                                                           Pastor Charles. 

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