I have some good news, and some bad news. Which do you want to hear first? You are familiar with that dilemma right… Which way would you proceed. Some want to start good and end with the bad – hoping the good news will be so good that the bad news will hardly matter. Others say give me the bad news, and then end with the Good News.
Paul David Tripp’s (PDT) devo this morning reminds us that the story of Christmas is definitely a “Bad News,” then “Good News” situation. The angels said they had come to “bring good news of Great joy that will be for all people.” (Luke 2:10) The story of Jesus Christ is good news. Heck, it is great news as Jesus is the best gift ever. It is the bad news that actually makes it such good news though. So let’s remember the bad news and fully embrace it. The more we can reckon with the bad news, the more power and impact the Good News has on us. So, are you ready?
The Bad News: we are born sinful, rebellious, self-loving idolaters. We are born into this world lost in sin, dead in our sin, enslaved to the very power of sin. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:1-3). Truthfully, you are far worse than you have ever imagined. Okay, are we still friends? Humanity does not like to hear and admit the truth of our sin. We tend to justify ourselves believing we are actually “good people,” just not quite perfect. This is such a dangerous view of self because it causes us to look within to help and change ourselves. Jesus then becomes a “self help guru” in our journey to enjoying the good life. We really do not become convinced of our desperate need for help and rescue.
Jesus did not come for good people who need a few touch-ups. He came for a hostile, lost, and broken world that had been devastated through their sin and rebellion to God. Christmas is so sweet to celebrate, but PDT reminds us that this season should humble us. The message of Christmas is that we were in such desperate need of rescue that God entered the world in a personal way to intervene for us, otherwise we were stuck and dead in our sin. It is humbling to acknowledge that another had to come on our behalf – to live a life we could never life, to die a death we should have died, and to rise from the dead having defeated sin and death. Christmas came not because humanity needed another holiday. No, Christmas came because humanity was plunging head first over a ledge of destruction, separation, and judgment.
Jesus offers the only hope for the bad news of our core problem of sin. So we must see and embrace this terribly bad news of our sin and self before we can truly receive the Good news. Paul David Tripp shares 5 words that help define the brokenness of our sin: separation, inability, delusion, judgment, and hopeless.
5 Effects of Sin
- Separation – We are born into the world completely separated from God due to sin (Psalm 51:3-5, Romans 3:23). Our separation from God keeps us from our true purpose, and leaves us with a God-shaped vacuum that we constantly seek to fill. Sin cuts us off from the presence of our God.
- Inability – The power of sin leaves us unable to please God, to obey God, to honor and follow God. Sin has damaged our hearts so fully that are unable to live for God and His glory.
- Delusion – The sinful nature is so deceptive in that it makes us spiritually blind to our true need. Sin has a way justifying ourselves as better than we are. It is why the great hymn proclaims, “I once was lost, but now I am found; was BLIND but now I see.”
- Judgment – This is a subject that is not mentioned much in this day and time, but the due sentence of our sin is death and eternal separation from God. Our sin deserves God’s judgment to an eternal hell. I can’t put lipstick on a pig. Sin is that bad in the eyes of a holy God. Jesus did not come merely to make good people better. He came to bring dead people to life, and save sinful people from certain judgment.
- Hopeless – This is where sin brings us. There is nothing we can do to help ourselves, no way to save ourselves. No education, positive thinking, self help tool, or any other human measure can fix our hopeless situation.
BUT, He can do something…
He Came down for us…
He gave his life for us…
He defeated sin, death, hell, and the grave on the cross and through the power of His resurrection.
For those of us who can humbly confess our sinful, broken nature to God,
for those willing to repent and turn from their sinful, self willed nature and instead turn to Christ,
For those who gratefully embrace and receive Jesus Christ as our great and only hope…
Well, for those people who trust Jesus, the bad news becomes good news of great joy! We will find forgiveness and reconciliation. Goodbye separation, and hello to intimacy with God.
So long to inability, as we are given the Spirit of God. Holy Spirit will change our hearts and empower us to live lives pleasing to Christ.
We are no longer blind, but now we see. The evil one no longer deludes us, but our eyes are open to the glory of Christ.
We not longer fear judgment, for Jesus has taken our punishment. The hammer of God’s divine judgment fell upon Jesus Christ at the cross. Thank you Jesus.
Hopeless no more, we are a people filled with great hope. We know God will always get the last word. Our life is in his hands. We know there is much more to this life, but we have the promise of the world to come. We will bow our knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
I close with this reminder.
You are far worse than your ever imagined – hopeless, lost, sinful, rebellious and broken.
And yet you are for more loved than you ever imagined. God has gone to great lengths to rescue you and bring you home to Him. Thank you Jesus.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ~ 1 John 3:10
Father in heaven, I humble myself before you. I am aware that I often make excuses for myself and my sin. I constantly want to think that I am better than I am, that somehow I am above my sinful mistakes and decisions. The truth though is that I am a sinful, broken person who is capable of far worse than I have imagined. Father, I was born a sinner, born wanting my own way, constantly fighting against you for control of my life. I have chosen my sin over you time and again. I have been blind to my own pride and sin.
Lord, my sin put me in a state of being cut off from you, unable to please you, blind to truth, and eternally hopeless at the judgment that I rightfully deserve. I own it all God. I make no excuses for my sorry, sinful, rebellious, self-loving, self-righteous heart and nature. You owe me nothing but judgment.
Now Lord, have mercy upon one such as me. Let Christmas come to me this year as sweet rescue to my broken life. Jesus I thank you for entering the darkness of this world for people like me. In amazing love, you died for sinners like me. The cross settled the score, where you more than paid the price for my sin. One precious drop of your blood Lord Jesus is enough to set the foulest sinner clean. I claim your blood over my life. Thank you for the blood of Jesus that washes me and cleanses me now as white as snow. Your resurrection releases the power of life over death, and brings hope into hopeless hearts such as mine.
I believe in you Jesus. I receive You Jesus. I surrender to you Jesus. Forgive me for my stubborn refusal of your will. Holy Spirit, I repent of quenching your work and your voice in my life each time I choose my sin instead of God’s grace. I am far more broken than I have ever realized… And you are far more gracious than I have ever imagined. I receive your forgiveness and grace today. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for coming for me, and for receiving me even now. I invite you into my heart and life fully Jesus. Come in and have your way. Come in. Welcome. Thank you.
I love you. I want to love you more, because your first loved me. Praise to you Almighty God who has ransomed the hearts of his people, who has defeated death, hell, and the grave. Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain and purchased men for God. Worthy is the Lamb to receive blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, forever. Amen!!!
- I encourage you to soak in the prayer above. Do not rush through it, but sometime over the weekend spend 10 to 20 minutes slowly praying and reflecting on these words of humble petition to God. Give the Spirit permission to search your heart for any long ingrained sins of rebellion and withholding of self to God. Talk to God honestly about your sinful nature. He knows about it, and it doesn’t scare Him. As you become honest to the bad news, He can more easily free you through power of the Good News.
- Reflect on this – “I am not a person who sometimes does bad. No, I am a dearly loved child of God that is being rescued from my wicked, selfish, idolatrous, sinful and hard heart. Isn’t my God amazing?”
- Remember: The Gospel reminds us that sin is far worse than we ever imagined, and we are not nearly as good as we think we are. Yet Jesus loves and cares for us more than we have ever hoped was possible.