When I was younger my understanding of the gospel was that it was for law breakers. God had given his laws, people had knowingly broken them, and God sent his Son to pay the penalty for law breakers on the cross. This is all accurate, but it is incomplete. Now that I’m older and wiser, (though the wiser part is debatable), my understanding of sin and sinners has changed.
Sinners are indeed rule breakers, (I’m one of them), but even more so, sinners are broken. Sinners are people who don’t work properly. Their minds are broken, their hearts are sick, and their entire being is crippled as a result of the Fall of man, (Genesis 3). John Newton said in the hymn Amazing Grace that “I was blind, but now I see.” That wasn’t just a nice sentiment to throw into the song, it was perfectly on target with the Scriptures. Like an Iphone dropped from a twenty story building, sinners are broken.
Like Newton said, a non-Christian is blind. “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” (2 Corinthians 4:4). They cannot understand the things of God. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,” (1 Corinthians 2:14). By their very nature they reject God, his law, and all the things God has given for their benefit, i.e. his Word, his Son, and his people, (just look at how the world treats the Church and the Jews). The non-Christian doesn’t do these things because they are jerks, but because they are naturally bent against God in their hearts. “For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires…The mind governed by the flesh is death…The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so,” (Romans 8:5-7, edited).
We live a world which has collectively lost its mind because the people living in the world, for the most part, are literally crazy. By their very nature they can’t think, feel, or love properly. Now up is called down. Wrong is declared right. What is depraved is applauded while what is good and sacred is condemned. All of this should cause the Christian to grieve, pray, and get angry. The world around us is being burned to the ground and the lost person doesn’t realize they are the ones holding the matches. But we must remember who we’re dealing with. Yes, the actions and belief systems of the lost are destructive and horrible, but they’re simply broken and enslaved to sin, the devil, and his will. They are slaves to the evil one.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind…,” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
The unsaved are law breakers, to be sure, and God will judge all accordingly, but the reason they are law breakers is because they are broken. Sin has made them crazy, blind, and enslaved, just as it did to us before Christ saved us. A non-Christian can no more keep from destroying themselves and the world around them than a forest fire can keep from burning down the home of Smoky the Bear.
So what, I hear you say? (Because I have very big ears and I can hear through the internet). So rather than view the lost merely as law breakers, view them as broken. Rather than view them with antagonism and anger, view them with compassion and pity. They need a Savior who can cause them to be born anew with a new mind and a new heart, (John 3). They need a Savior who can give them a new life which isn’t enslaved to sin and the devil, (Romans 6:5-8). View the unsaved, even as they destroy the world around them, with tremendous compassion and pity. They are, just as we were, lost and broken. We are no better, only redeemed and renewed by the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray for the broken. Reach out them and love them. Share the gospel. Be angry at their stupidity and insanity, but always remember that they are, by their very nature, ruined enslaved to sin and the devil. In many ways they cannot help themselves. They need the gospel. They need new life. They need deliverance, not only from the penalty of sin, (hell), but from the power and enslavement of sin which has ruined their hearts and minds.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” – John Newton.