You don’t need to stop sinning, be forgiven, or do more good

You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need. Psalm 16:5

PEOPLE OFTEN PUT UP A MASK AND SAY “I’M FINE,” BUT IN OUR MOST HONEST MOMENTS WE KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT AT ALL FINE. Worst of all, we don’t even know why. For all of our attempts to look like we have it all together, we are often forced to admit that we don’t. For all that we’ve tried, happiness seems to be out of reach or momentary at best. We ask ourselves, “Do I need to work harder? Earn more money? Spend less? Exercise more? Spend more time with friends and family? Start a new hobby? Achieve something spectacular? Read more books? Break some bad habits? Become more religious?”

We live in a needy world. We all need stuff, lots of stuff; or at least we think we do. Maybe most of what we think we need today is just stuff we want, but we all have needs. God made the world that way. Cars need gas. Companies need employees and customers. Homes need maintenance. Children need parents. The dishwasher needs to be loaded, then unloaded, then loaded, then unloaded, then loaded… People need oxygen which plants exhale. Plants need carbon dioxide which people exhale. The earth needs water and sunshine. We need food, clothing, and maybe shelter. But people have more important needs than these. Have you ever noticed the tendency of people to desire a path to follow — a way? We need real and reliable answers to our deepest questions — truth. We need to live — no healthy person wants to die. We need to be loved and appreciated, to belong to someone — nobody wants to be alone. What do you need? Are your deepest needs met? If something is missing in your life, may I have your attention please? The “something” you’re missing might actually be “someone.”

I’m not just talking to people who are not Christians. I’ve met many religious people suffering from a deep void in their life. I’ve been that person. I was doing religious things and looking pretty good on the outside, but on the inside, something was still missing. Jesus told the Laodicean church, the church who thought they had everything, that they were poor, naked, and blind (Revelation 3:17)! Yes, even Christians who seem to have it all together sometimes have deep and desperate needs. Here are several deep needs of man that, while important, are not the end game. Pursuing these alone will leave us coming up short again and again.

I need to stop sinning. It’s true. We all struggle with sin. We often tell ourselves to stop, yet for some unknown reason we keep finding ourselves in that familiar pattern of messing up, feeling guilty, carrying shame, and struggling to overcome the fear that always accompanies a door opened to darkness in our souls. Sin wrecks our lives. It hurts ourselves and everyone around us, even when others don’t know we’re sinning. Sin is a dark cloud over our heads. When sin is lurking in our lives, things are gloomy. So why don’t we stop it already? Why is it that so many of us — all of us — keep sinning even though we’ve declared we would stop so many times? As it turns out, stopping sin, while an important goal, is not our deepest need. If our goal is merely to stop sinning, we will find that we cannot achieve it. Likely, we will slip deeper and deeper as though mired in quicksand.

I need forgiveness. Forgiveness gets us off the hook; it frees us from the guilt, shame, and fear that weigh us down. Forgiveness leaves us feeling great! But only for a little while. Then we start to wonder what’s next. We ask ourselves, “How long will it be until I mess up again? How many times can I be forgiven?” Life seems to become a meaningless cycle of messing up and begging for forgiveness. Pretty soon we stop asking God or others to forgive us because we don’t feel like we deserve it. We isolate ourselves once again and fall prey to hopelessness. As it turns out, merely being forgiven is not our deepest need.

I need to do more good things. Our schedules are busy, but we’re sure we can and should fit a little more in. After all, good Christians attend multiple church services per week, read their bibles daily, study it weekly, evangelize, participate in small group, volunteer in the community, work 40+ hours per week, start their day right with quiet time, end it with family time, help their neighbors, keep up all the household chores, eat healthy, exercise, and engage in at least one good hobby for the sake of sanity, right? If we could just get by with less sleep, or use better time management, or have better priorities, or drink more coffee, or grow younger, then we could get it all done and meet all our needs. While many of these activities are part of a balanced lifestyle, they’re not the purpose of life. Just checking all of these boxes will leave us exhausted, disappointed, and feeling continually behind schedule.

I need Jesus. Who and what we need — all we need — is Jesus. I have heard preachers proclaim that the deepest need [problem] of man is sin. It’s not. The deepest need of man is the Man that sin keeps us from — Jesus (Romans 5:17). The good news is that Jesus lived and died to meet our deepest need. No, Jesus did not die merely so that I can be forgiven of my sins and go to Heaven (translation: get off the hook and escape the flames of Hell). Why did Jesus die? So we could be forgiven? Yes. So we would stop sinning? Yes. So we would do good things? Yes! But that’s not all; it’s not even the half. Jesus died so that we would be His bride forever (Ephesians 5:25-27). Jesus doesn’t merely demand our holiness, He desires us — just to be with us. Do we desire Him? The soul of man will not be satisfied until it is intimately connected to the spirit of Jesus, and there we will find the answer to our deepest need.

 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6

But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. Psalm 73:28

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