I’ve been reading the book of Romans as of late. I’m reading it in the Message translation, and I really like the way it’s phrased here. You should check it out.
It focuses much on the state of depraved sinfulness that we find ourselves in and God’s grace coming into restore us to a right relationship with him. To break the curse and let us find forgiveness and grace.
All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.
Romans 5:20-21 (Message)
Even sin, in all it’s sinfulness, cannot compare to a fraction of the grandness of God’s grace. His love and mercy are so big and wide and deep that when placed side-by-side with the full magnitude of the evil of sin, the sin isn’t even visible. His love is so far beyond any evil we can dream up or do. When he sees us, in right relationship with him, he can’t even see the sin. All he sees is the grace. The mercy. The love. The forgiveness. He sees Jesus.
It reminds me of something I read in CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce. The story goes that a group of people get on a bus from hell to travel to the shores of heaven. Upon ascending from darkness, the bus flies over this huge cliff miles and miles and miles across and just as high as it was wide. It seemed to take forever to get to the summit of this cliff, but once there, those hellish people were faced with the most beautiful countryside one has ever beheld and in the distance a great glowing and shining kingdom. The story progresses and the main character is talking to a citizen of the kingdom:
Why, where we all came from by that bus. The big gulf, beyond the edge of the cliff. Over there. You can’t see it from here, but you must know the place I mean.’
My Teacher gave a curious smile. ‘Look,’ he said, and with the word he went down on his hands and knees. I did the same (how it hurt my knees!) and presently saw that he had plucked a blade of grass. Using its thin end as a pointer, he made me see, after I had looked very closely, a crack in the soil so small that I could not have identified it without this aid.
‘I cannot be certain,’ he said, ‘that this is the crack ye came up through. But through a crack no bigger than that ye certainly came.’
‘But–but,’ I gasped with a feeling of bewilderment not unlike terror, ‘I saw an infinite abyss. And cliffs towering up and up. And then this country on top of the cliffs.’
‘Aye. But the voyage was not mere locomotion. That bus, and all you inside it, were increasing in size.
‘Do you mean then that Hell–all that infinitely empty town–is down in some little crack like this?’
‘Yes. All Hell is smaller than one pebble of your earthly world: but it is smaller than one atom of this world, the Real World. Look at yon butterfly. If it swallowed all Hell, Hell would not be big enough to do it any harm or have any taste.’
It’s an amazing thought… All hell, in the full magnitude of its evil and rebellion isn’t enough to cause even an atom’s worth of damage to heaven. It’s not even detectable. And I think that’s how God’s grace and our sin are compared. The size differentiation is so great that you cannot even see sin in the presence of grace. And for one living in the grace of God, sin can hold no real or lasting effect upon them. Incredible.
May grace and peace be with you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.