July 15, 2011

The Bad News that Makes the Good News So Very Good

We all know that thinking about the doctrine of sin is no fun. In fact, it can be rather depressing to reflect very long on our natural depravity and fallenness. It can even be tempting to avoid talk of sin and neglect the doctrine altogether. But if we do, we do so to our peril.

I find it helpful to think of the importance of listening to our doctors, even when they give unfavorable diagnoses. Many know all too well the pain of hearing the "bad" news from a physician. It brings grief, hurt, and heartache. But we also know that if we do not listen to our doctors, the consequences could very well be deadly. If we are willing to hear the bad news and be honest about it, then we are prepared to hear the good news of the prescription that can lead to health and life. News about medicine or treatment plans are only good news if we are willing to hear the bad news first.

The doctrine of sin is like that. The gospel says that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3). And if we do not face the reality of our sin, then the good news of forgiveness and new life in Christ and through his cross is lost on us. If we aren't real about sin, why would we be real about forgiveness of sin? Just as we must hear the bad news of a doctor's diagnosis to benefit from the good news of his treatment, so also must we hold fast to the doctrine of sin, because sin is the bad news that makes the gospel the really good news that it is. 
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