You have a profile. In fact, we all do. Facebook users will have some idea of what this means. On Facebook your ‘Profile’ is a web page that tells your friends all about you. Such as your education, for instance. Perhaps what university you went to. What your job is. Your current status. Your recent ‘Likes’ – and so on. There are a number of ways you can describe yourself on your Facebook ‘Profile’.
The other ‘you’
We all like to appear at our best when other people are concerned. Facebook gives us control over what information we disclose and enables us to present to others a good impression of ourselves. But what about those details of our lives we would prefer not to share? Things we really don’t want others to know about? Things we normally hide away that would reveal our personal history of immoral choices? 1 Samuel 16:7 reads,
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”.
Whilst others might know only those things about you that you choose to share with them (an outward appearance), God on the other hand knows the real you. He knows what goes on in your inner life. He see’s the whole picture. He knows the things you think. He knows what you do when you are alone. To use the ‘language’ of Facebook, He knows your personal preferences, your current status and all your recent activity. If God were to reveal these things, what would the profile of your heart really look like?
Your true profile revealed
The Apostle Paul in Romans 3:9-18 presents a pre-written profile of humanity. Here we have God’s assessment of us in a nutshell. It’s a real honest appraisal of the spiritual condition of humanity. It reveals our essential moral character, how we tend to behave, how we think and what our subsequent position before God is.
God’s first description of how we appear to Him comes in verse 10 of Romans 3:
“There is no one righteous – not even one.”
Similarly, Psalm 143:2 reads;
“No one living is righteous before you.”
A typical reaction to these statements is to conclude that since we are all in the same boat when it comes to having done things wrong, we are in good company. We are not the only ones who are not righteous before God. After all – everyone sins and nobody’s perfect.
But therein lies the problem. Because we are not perfect, God – who is perfect and demands moral perfection according to His righteous and holy standard – cannot justify or accept a person or simply forgive a person who is not morally clean. God sees all people as fundamentally unrighteous and this matters to Him. It should matter to us also, since elsewhere in the Bible, God declares that without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:4). In other words, no one can enter into heaven when they die since God will not allow the unrighteous into His kingdom:
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9)
Pushing God out
Verse 11 of Romans chapter 3 builds upon this foundation that we are fundamentally unrighteous. It says:
“No one understands or seeks God. They have turned away and become worthless. There is no one who does good – not even one.”
Instead of turning to God, we naturally turn away from Him. We turn Him off in our thoughts. We don’t understand God because we instinctively refuse to embrace God’s own revelation of Himself in the Bible. We suppress the truth of what can be known about God in all His creation and instead of worshiping the Creator, we worship what He has created. Instead of walking in ways of truth and righteousness, we make up our own rules and our own standards to live by whilst breaking God’s laws every day. At the same time, we refuse to believe that God will one day actually hold us to account, preferring to believe that He will somehow forgive us all anyway and allow everyone into heaven despite what we think, say and do. Yet the Bible tells us:
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)
Judged by our words
Our profile, as God sees it in Romans 3:13-17, backs up the charge that we are unrighteous by pointing to all the ways we have offended God in thought, word and deed. We are firstly reminded of what comes out of our mouths in v.13:
“Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit.”
Have you ever told a lie? A person who tells a lie – even just one lie – rightly earns the description and title of ‘liar’. As God is perfect, He demands truth. One of the ten commandments is that we should not bear false witness (see Exodus 20:16). Being deceitful breaks God’s law. Lying may sound trivial to us but it breaks God’s righteous standard. We see how serious this is when in Revelation 21:8 we read that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire – which is the second death. Verse 14 of Romans 3 also refers to the things we say when it announces that our mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. How many times have you blurted out “Oh my God!” or texted ‘OMG’ in order to express disgust? By so doing, we take the holy name of God and apply it the same way we do a swear word. This mistreatment of God’s name is described by another of the ten commandments; “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7).
Judged by the things we do
Verses 15 and 16 of Romans 3 tell us about the unrighteous things we do:
“Their feet are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery mark their ways.”
When we compare ourselves with others, we think we come off better. Remember Hitler? He was a murderer if ever there was one. Most of us have not killed anyone, however, and would not claim to have broken the commandment; “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). But have you ever hated someone so much you wished they were dead? Jesus tells us that hating someone is tantamount to committing murder in your heart. That is how God sees it. And the result of such thoughts and actions is misery. Ruin and misery mark the ways of those who commit these things. Unforgiveness, bitterness, animosity, bullying, hatred, misery and ultimately ruin are experiences one can expect from expressing hatred either inwardly or outwardly.
No peace with God
Possessing a selfish nature, our natural propensity is to behave in destructive ways. This is why the world is always at war and we are at war with each other. Verse 17 tells us:
“…the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
We fight with our spouses. We fight with our children. We fight with our families and even our friends. We choose not to forgive. We avoid reconciliation. Because of these things we also lack peace, forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Remarkably we don’t see this as a problem. This is because we naturally have no fear of God. We dismiss His warnings in the bible about repentance thinking that He will simply go away and leave us alone. We don’t consider Him a threat. We don’t think He will have us to account for all our unrighteous thoughts, words and actions. We ignore God’s promise:
“For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.”
Our profile does not look good. We might be able to hide it from others, but God who searches the hearts of men and women knows that we are guilty of breaking His righteous laws. In a court of law, those who are pronounced guilty are sentenced according to their crimes. No good judge can let the guilty go free. The punishment for their crimes must be met in order for justice to be served. Likewise, God who created us will justly judge us according to what we have done (Romans 2:5,6). God must unleash His full wrath on evil because He is good. None of us can appeal to our own goodness or righteousness and none of us can make up for what we have already done wrong. Our profile reads ‘guilty’. We all, therefore, deserve to be punished for breaking God’s holy standard.
The sentence against us is not a welcoming prospect: the bible tells us that the unrighteous will not only be separated from God and not enter into heaven but will experience God’s wrath against their sin and rejection of Him in hell. The bible describes hell as an inescapable place (Luke 16:26) of ‘blackest darkness’ (Jude 1:13), a ‘lake of fire’ populated by all whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 20:10), a place of eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46) where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:28).
At this point, we could be all left with the certain knowledge that we will all face God’s wrath in hell since none of us can save ourselves from our immoral profile. But although our profile reads guilty, there is another profile that does not. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, was sinless. Being very nature God (Philippians 2:6, John 1:1), Jesus walked among us and never did anything wrong (Hebrews 4:15). This testimony was spoken of Him even by those in authority (Luke 23:41).
A well known verse of scripture reads:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We cannot save ourselves from God’s righteous anger against us. And that is why Jesus Christ came. God so loved us that he came in the Person of Jesus to step into history to do what we cannot do. The bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). But physical death is not the end for the sinner, as we have already seen. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. That judgement for our sin leads to what Revelation 21:8 calls the second death – a punishment that is eternal since the unrighteous can by themselves never be justified in God’s sight. But Jesus, for the purpose of saving us from that irrevocable judgement, took the punishment we deserve upon Himself by dying in our place. Jesus died on a cruel cross – a Roman torture instrument – to act as your substitute so that you could be forgiven and restored to God. God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus instead of you. Jesus then rose from the dead, death being unable to hold Him. Now, because of what He has done, the bible says that if we repent (humble ourselves and turn back to God) and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for us, then all our unrighteousness will be removed and we will receive the righteousness of God in Christ:
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)
Repent and come to Jesus for forgiveness!
Today, God graciously extends to you His offer of forgiveness so that you can be declared ‘righteous’ and have the record of your sins wiped clean. But it is not automatic. You must confess your sins to God and trust in Christ as your Saviour. The bible tells us that when we do this, we are ‘born again’ and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (see John 1:12,13 and Acts 2:38,39). The Holy Spirit remains with us to help us walk uprightly in a new and pleasing relationship with God (Romans 8:5-8, 23) as we seek daily to follow Jesus as Lord (Titus 2:11-14).
Those who personally come to Jesus then, receiving Him as their Lord by faith, have their debt of unrighteousness cancelled. The bible says they do not come into judgement but have passed from death to life (John 5:24). But those who refuse to come to Jesus and who do not repent of their sins, will die in their sins (John 8:24) and will not receive eternal life (John 5:39,40). They will die without a Saviour, without a Substitute to represent them. The truth is clear: either Jesus pays the debt we owe for our unrighteousness – or we will – if we stubbornly persist in breaking God’s Sovereign laws and foolishly reject His grace!
In closing, Jesus once told his disciples;
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Knowing these things, what will you do?