The Book of Colossians states, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (2:6). When I first came to Jesus, I realized I was sinner without a way of making myself right. Even now, nothing much has changed. Sure, I have lived a generally good and decent life. I’ve been married over three decades to the same woman and haven’t cheated on her. I’ve raised my kids to love God, and I’ve worked honestly for my pay.
Despite all these good things, I can’t lay claim to any real righteousness before God. When I look just a bit too long at a woman who is not my wife, I have sinned. Jesus calls that committing adultery in my heart. When I am angry at the guy who cuts me off in traffic and call him an idiot, I am similarly guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-28).
I’m not saying that every sin is equal with the flippancy I’ve heard some Christians demonstrate. There are certainly levels of sin with differing results.
Actual acts of adultery and murder certainly bear more serious consequences than my internal sins. I won’t contract any venereal diseases from adultery in my heart, and, at least in the short term, I haven’t torn apart my marriage and family or anyone else’s. (However, Jesus made it clear that adultery does indeed start with this heart sin, so we better not dally with anything like lust. Thoughts usually precede the actions that result in disaster. )
Cursing a fellow commuter from the privacy of my own car won’t land me in jail or leave anyone a widow or orphan, but when it comes to my right standing with God, any act of sin is an affront to His Holiness.
The Bible indicates that even my righteous deeds are like filth before the Lord (Isaiah 64:6), so as far as my acceptance with God goes, I can never look to my own conduct for any sort of merit. I must only trust in the sacrifice Jesus made for me and be assured that His righteousness, and not my own, is more than enough.