So sin condemns us - as The Sheep's Crib writes, "believers must come to understand 'the utter sinfulness of sin.'" When we compare ourselves to each other, we may not look too bad; we're good folks, who God must accept. Problem is, the standard is really perfection, and God - not other sinners. While I may look okay compared to some folks on earth, I look absolutely awful compared to the standard God uses.
Good works cannot restore our perfection anymore than whitewashing a wall can remove stains. Temporary cover-ups are bound to be flawed themselves. Scripture even provides an example of this when it says "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God." Abraham himself wasn't able to save himself through his works - before God they were nothing special, nothing to "boast about."
Fortunately for us, God has a plan that allows us salvation from the curse we incur when we choose to sin, and it starts with Christmas. God's justice, perfect and demanding, can be satisfied by substitutionary atonement. Literally, Jesus came to this world, the incarnation of God Himself, to take our place. We owed God a debt of death; Jesus paid that for us by taking our own sin upon Himself.
So God's justice was satisfied by Christ on the cross. Jesus was born to die to satisfy the justice of a perfectly holy and righteous God who loved us so much that He wanted to provide a way back from our rebellion. But there's more to the story, which I'll cover next time. How do we receive this gift? What is the role of grace? And what does it mean that Jesus died for all?
Until then - God bless!