When I was in school it was popular to ask a teacher after a test: “Will you grade on a curve?” The hope was always that since it was unlikely anyone would get a perfect score, the brackets would be moved downward.
Very few of us like absolutes. We prefer to be judged one against another instead of against an unbendable standard.
It’s no different with morality.
If you asked me to judge myself on a scale from Hitler to Mother Teresa, I would definitely put myself closer to her rather to him.
As long I measure myself against other humans, I am comfortable saying I fall in the top 50 percent.
Trouble is, that’s not the standard.
The standard against which my actions and heart attitudes are measured is unchangeable and inflexible.
It is perfection itself-the holiness of a holy God.
And when I place myself next to that measuring rod, I am woefully short.
Jesus shocked His followers by telling them that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the Pharisees (considered the most upstanding and holy in that day) they would never enter the kingdom of God. He expounded on every aspect of the Ten Commandments by addressing not only outward conformity (which, in truth, was impossible) but also motive and intention.
By that standard, even my “good deeds” are inadequate because they are often done with a wrong heart attitude.
I give because I want someone to think I’m generous.
I volunteer because I am a people pleaser.
I work hard because I want a raise.
Paul wrote in Romans “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
I can never “measure up” to the perfect standard of a perfect God. And while my flesh may be happy with “good enough” the holiness of God demands absolute perfection.
Truth is, I am a sinner-I miss the mark, I step outside the boundaries, I do what I shouldn’t do and don’t do what I should do.
Just like our first parents, I listen to my flesh and the evil one and question God’s goodness and His wisdom. I want to plot my own course, captain my own ship.
And also like our first parents, I find that I cannot do it.
I fall woefully short.
I am naked and ashamed, exposed in my sin and without hope for redemption by my own efforts .
In any other story, this would be the end-no hope, no second chances.
Two of the most beautiful words in the world!
God has not left me without hope.
He has not left me in my sin.
He has not abandoned me in my desperate state of alienation from my Creator.
He Himself has provided the Sacrifice,
the Perfect Lamb,
the propitiation for my sin.