Admitting Our Lostness – (Romans 5:1-12)

I admit it. I’m that guy who never asks for help finding something in a store. Even if I’m having trouble locating an item and a clerk perceives my lost condition and asks to be of assistance, I’ll still not admit I need help and will continue trying to find it on my own!  Is that a little bit crazy?  Probably. But real men don’t ask for help … or directions!

I told the story in church on Sunday that I’m sure I’ve written somewhere else in the thousands of devotionals I’ve written over the years, about how my family visited the Berkeley Springs castle on our way from New Jersey to Texas about 30 years ago. Not wanting to retrace the roads north to 70 and then east to 81, I sought to trust my sense of direction and just southeasterly drive on country roads until I would eventually hit 81-South somewhere in Virginia. (This was long before GPS systems on phones or devices.)  About an hour later, thinking I was surely below Winchester and near to I81, I found myself driving back into Berkeley Springs on another road. I had simply made a wide circuit, thinking I was going straight.

And that is the way a lot of people are: lost without knowing it or admitting it. They think they are driving straight through life, when in fact they are going in circles – often experiencing the same failures over and over.

It is both frustrating and fearful to find oneself in a lost condition in a strange place.

But here’s the great good news that can come even out of the bad news: before one can be found, or seek to be found, or be open to being found, one has to acknowledge that one is lost. And facing the sinful mess we are in because of Adam is a first step toward a solution and finding life.

And again, as we’ve seen in so many of the passages we’ve referenced this week, though very dark statements are made about the sin problem, the answer is in the broader context. And so it is with the primary passage this week from Romans 5 about how we sinned in Adam and a death sentence has passed on to us. But here are some of the preceding verses …

Romans 5:1-2 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

Romans 5:6-9 – You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The situation resultant from Adam and our participation in Adam’s sin was as bad as it could possibly be. Verse 6 shares an additional descriptor to all we’ve highlighted this week. It says were powerless. Totally dark!

Often when there is a heinous crime reported in the newspaper of a murder or severe child abuse, readers will leave remarks like, “Lethal injection would be too nice for this scum!”  The outrage is largely understandable. But let’s not minimize mankind’s rebellion against the perfect Creator-God who put man in a perfect environment. Yet man rebelled. Who would show mercy to anyone so undeserving of it?  The answers is nobody!  But in that condition, at our worst, God showed his great love by sending his own Son to die for us and take the penalty that we deserved, and that justice demanded. This is indeed the greatest love.

2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

We’ll talk tomorrow about exactly how this transaction takes place.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

3 thoughts on “Admitting Our Lostness – (Romans 5:1-12)

  1. Hey Randy,

    I don’t know if you ever thought of this. There is rough parallel to all this “lostness” in scripture that you are talking about. We can never get to God without a deep realization of our immense problem — the “gravity” of it as you mentioned.

    We must be or become humble or we can’t be used by God or come to him. Many scriptures cover this principle.

    Here is one. “Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:41 NIV)

    Three times in scripture we also can read the following. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” And then Jesus gave a parable illustrating this concept in his story of the Pharisee and the tax collector going to pray at the temple.

    God may in his kindness to us, start revealing us more about his perfection. While many Christians unfortunately stop there with some proud contemplation that God doesn’t want us to strive for perfection — Jesus does though call us to perfection, saying “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48 NIV) However in this context, if we are seeking him and confessing our faults he will extend the perfect and increasing grace to match the new ways that we see ourselves failing —— constantly.

    Paul wrote, “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 5:20-21 NIV)

    God’s spirit, Jesus spirit in us DOES work to bring about a higher level of obedience or RIGHTEOUSNESS in us. This is hard to understand but Peter referenced this very difficult concept when he wrote about a common misunderstanding that was taking place when people were reading Paul’s writings.

    Peter wrote, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Pet. 3:15-16 NIV)

    In some circles of Christianity Peter’s comment just before he wrote what he wrote about Paul, gets overlooked.

    Just prior to what Peter wrote about Paul he wrote the following. “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Pet. 3:14 NIV)

    Randy, in your decades of teaching the word of God how often have you noticed churches that don’t make a real call to holiness and personal service to God? I mean admittedly this a very hard thing to discuss and openly teach about too much. Paul does a very good job of urging people to use their various gifts for service to God in various ways. But, (on the flip side of not urging people to serve God) churches can easily fall into the role of setting arbitrary benchmarks for all their attendees to follow. Jesus warned about how this was done in the Jewish tradition, where a certain group of students of scripture would lay out difficult demands, (heavy burdens for people to bear) and then these religious authorities when people were struggling to keep these onerous rules, merely replied, “Not my problem.” to the struggling souls. Or as Jesus specifically said, they would not lift one finger to help people comply with the onerous interpretations of righteousness that the scribes or lawyers decided was mandatory.

    Love and wisdom are needed in teaching helpful and not onerous things when it comes to God’s perfection and his call for us to follow.

    Jesus was VERY SENSITIVE to others. Scripture records that Jesus prior to his death told the apostles, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. (John 16:12 NIV)

    Jesus also was very sensitive towards struggling folks as you might detect from this passage quoted from Isaiah in Matthew.

    “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matt. 12:18-21 NIV) It is so easy for us humans to run over those who get in our way.

    If I want to write about the sensitivity and compassion of Jesus (the Perfect reflection of the Father) there is no obvious ending point for such a discussion. I could write at length about the sensitivity that Jesus displayed.

    Bottom line is do you have any thoughts on all this? I mean our call to perfection and the total humility and reliance on him that we need to earnestly seek as we struggle? And yet the balance that we have as people to not be endlessly yammering about do’s and don’ts and losing God’s grace in an endless chatter about how think it is best to serve God?

    One of the things I appreciate about TSF is that it doesn’t try to micromanage people’s lives with seemingly good things … “everyone needs to read this book” or “everyone needs to sign up for this class” …

    Consider Paul’s analogy about the body. Some parts are the hand or the eye or the foot. An instruction that we “all need to hit the pavement” is great for the feet, but less so for the hand, and certainly we don’t want our eyeballs hitting the pavement.

    This blog comment of mine has gone on so long, that you might find it difficult to give a little a response to it.

    • Shortly … yes … I feel the tension you write about all the time. I don’t want to be legalistic about expectations of attendance and involvement, yet I also feel responsible to call out to people that they’re dropping the ball all over the place by not making God and his church family a big enough priority in their lives. Daily struggle.

  2. Ever write something and then find a whole lot wrong with it? I feel that way now. A bit tired now after having worked all night. Yet, I’m uncomfortable with how much I wrote, about “many Christians”.

    So, though I might have brought up good points, … it can’t be assumed that I’m very good at being sensitive like Jesus and all that. Or even if I was or am good at the sensitivity of Jesus, I’ve made countless errors in the past where I’ve been way out of balance. To assume that now suddenly I’ve got it all right … that would be a fearsome risky belief to hold.

    Maybe I just need to get off the keyboard…

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