This is a much-needed word for a generation of Christians with an inflated sense of self-importance. Apart from God’s grace, even our best efforts are nothing more than “splendid sins.” In my better moments, which are all too few, I realize that even my best efforts fall well over into the “splendid sins” category. Ryle has told the truth about the best of us and the rest of us. This side of heaven, we’re a pretty sorry lot, but that’s where God’s grace comes in. No one will be saved by what they do. Our only hope of heaven is to run to the cross and lay hold of Jesus Christ. And we won’t even do that unless God helps us to do it, and even then he must give us the strength to hang on and to keep believing.
Apart from God’s grace, even our best efforts are nothing more than “splendid sins.” We are all …
Splendid sinners, Lovable losers, Miserable misfits, and Fantastic failures.
Consider the roll call of God’s imperfect heroes:
The talent pool has always been pretty thin when it comes to moral perfection. Noah who got drunk. Abraham who lied about his wife. Jacob who was a deceiver. Moses who murdered an Egyptian. Rahab who was a harlot. Samson who had serious problems with lust and anger. David who was an adulterer. Paul who persecuted the church. Peter who denied Christ.
If God chose only well-rounded people with no character flaws, some of the credit would inevitably go to the people and not to the Lord. By choosing flawed people with a bad past, a shaky present, and an uncertain future, God alone gets the glory when they accomplish amazing things by his power.
In case we don’t understand this, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 makes it abundantly clear. If you want the message of this passage in one sentence, here it is: God won’t tolerate human pride, so he chooses people who have nothing to brag about.
The Reason Given
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (I Corinthians 1:27-29). In these verses Paul makes his teaching even clearer. God chooses “weak things” and “lowly things” and “despised things” and even “things that are not.” These “things” are actually people—weak people, lowly people, despised people, and people who are invisible to the world. In short, God makes a choice, and the choice he makes is to choose the people the world would never choose. The words of Isaiah 55:8 come to mind, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” Here’s a simple way to remember this truth: God is different. Ponder that statement for a moment. God is different from us. He is different in what he thinks and he is different in what he does. He does not do what we expect him to do because his thinking is entirely different from ours. He nullifies the mighty by using the weak instead. He nullifies the proud by using the humble. He nullifies the wise by using the simple. He nullifies the professional by using the blue-collar worker. He nullifies the PhD by using the high school dropout. God’s “nullification” demonstrates how fundamentally different he is from us. This truth—elementary as it may seem—is actually quite vital to a healthy Christian worldview. Our God stands alone. He does not bind himself to do what we think he ought to do. He is holy and he is sovereign and he is absolutely free to do whatever he pleases to do. He can humble the proud any time he chooses. No one has the power to stand against him.
God does it this way for three reasons:
1) To destroy all human pride, 2) So that no one can boast, and 3) So that all would be equal in God’s family.
In Todays Society We look at the outward. God looks at the inward. We value popularity. God values character. We look at intelligence. God looks at the heart. We honor those with money. God honors those with integrity. We talk about what we own. God talks about what we give away. We boast about whom we know. God notices whom we serve. We list our accomplishments. God looks for a contrite heart. We value education. God values wisdom. We love size. God notices quality. We live for fame. God searches for humility. Our view is shallow. God’s view is deep. Our view is temporary. God’s view is eternal.
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