Bear Grylls is best known for his reality TV program, Man vs. Wild. The basic premise of the show is to show you and I how to survive in the harshest of conditions. Bear is dropped off in a remote or dangerous area, and given the task of trying to survive and find a way to safety. From the Florida Everglades to the Ecuadorian jungle, from the outback of Australia to a remote desert island, Bear's job is to overcome the odds. He does this by jumping waterfalls and eating snakes, alligators, bats, and dead camels.
The show is popular because it plays into our desire to see one battle through obstacles and succeed. We love the overcoming mentality. Motivational speakers, gurus, personal trainers, along with TV personalities drum into us that whatever the odds, we can overcome them through hard work, desire, and pure tenacity.
But there are certain obstacles that, no matter how hard I try, I will never succeed in overcoming. And guess what? I'm confident that you will not be able to overcome these two obstacles either. What are they? The Bible refers to these obstacles as sin and death.
FIRST, you and I can't overcome sin.
The Bible teaches in the book of Romans 3:23 that…“Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.”
Sin not a popular word. Most people think of sin as doing something really bad, murder, assaulting someone, robbery. But the word “sin” has the idea of missing the mark, or not hitting the target. The idea is that God has set a glorious standard and when we fail to live by it, we sin. You and I say, do, and think things that are contrary to God's standard, and the problem is that no matter how much we try and achieve change by ourselves, we just can't succeed.
The Bible teaches that our nature is imprisoned to sin. We miss the mark because we choose creation over the Creator. We look to succeed by our own strength, yet we never shake our own selfish sin. You and I, no matter what our education, what our religious heritage, what our ethnicity, what our financial status, cannot overcome the power of sin by ourselves. This is a problem.
There is a SECOND problem.
You and I can't overcome death.
Death is a reality that we don't like to address. Even at a funeral we love to avoid the confronting reality of our own mortality, by focusing on the deceased's life achievements, funny stories, usually followed by cakes at someone's house. We don't want to talk about death, we sweep it under the carpet, we live for the day and foolishly imagine it will never come our way. But the Bible, in contrast to our imagination, tells us how it is. It says in Romans 6:23:
“The wages of sin is death.”
When I work I receive wages. If I put in 40 hours of labour, my wage is my due, it is my right, it is what I deserve. Here the Bible reminds us that the reality is each of us will face “death” because that is what we deserve because of our rebellion. In the Bible death has the idea not only of physical separation, but always spiritual separation. Because of our sin, we have created a gap between ourselves and God. We have separated ourselves from Him.
The result is alienation from God and physical death. Again here is the problem, you and I no matter what we do, can't avoid death.
But the good news of Christianity is that these two impossible barriers can be overcome. The Bible teaches the solution to overcoming sin and death is not found in ourselves, it is found in the person and the work of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches in Romans 5:8:
“God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
The good news of the Christian message is Jesus achieves what you and I can't because He overcame sin and death.
The wages for our sin that we should receive were placed on Jesus. God couldn't ignore our sin, for that would not be just. A price had to be paid. Jesus, by dying on the cross, pays the penalty for sin that we deserve to pay. Jesus, the Son of God, comes and exchanges His life for ours. He, the innocent one dies, so we the guilty ones might live.
Religion is all about doing. Christianity is about what Jesus has done.
Take time to rejoice today in what Jesus has done on your behalf. Quit struggling to please God and rest in the assurance that your forgiveness is based on Jesus' work, not your own.