Why we need divine help in this human tragedy.
by Bob Hostetler
A Roman playwright named Horace lived and wrote in the days of Julius Caesar. Horace criticized the other poets and playwrights of his day who, every time a problem occurred in their plots, brought in one of the many Roman gods to solve it and save the day.
“Do not bring a god onto the stage,” Horace said, “unless the problem is one that deserves a god to solve it.”
The biblical writer, Paul, understood this. He revealed a problem of alarming proportions in his letter to the first-century church in Rome. This problem has plagued men and women throughout the centuries and still exists today: sin. If it is true, as Shakespeare wrote, that “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” then the plot of our play has a monumental problem — one that deserves a God to solve it.
Our problem is extensive. “There is no one righteous,” Paul wrote, “not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). The problem in our play is so extensive, it influences every player in the program! There is no human walking the earth who is not affected, for we all “have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
Our problem is also intensive. Paul’s Roman letter goes on to describe each of us in the most unflattering terms:
“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:13-18).
The problem of sin is not just so great as to affect all humanity; it is so thorough as to affect our whole being. We are not good; we are not even mostly good. The human heart “is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). But though our problem is extensive and intensive, it is not without solution. Our play possesses a problem that deserves — even demands — a God to solve it.
Our deliverance is comprehensive. Paul writes:
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known . . . This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-24).
God saw that our play had spun out of control, so He became a member of the cast in the person of a new character, Jesus Christ. He entered the stage of human history and grew up among us. He lived a perfect, sinless life and died a horrible, sacrificial death.
But that did not end the play. Instead, Jesus, having conquered sin in life, buried it in death and resurrection. He rose from the grave and freely offered salvation from sin and deliverance from death to everyone.
Paul points out that this salvation is comprehensive. It is “to all who believe” (v. 22). Though the sin problem that infects us all is extensive and intensive, the salvation that solves the problem is comprehensive. Because all have sinned, all can be saved. Everyone who tries out will pass this audition; everyone who believes will be saved.
That salvation from sin can be your experience today, if you acknowledge your sin and turn away from it, trust Jesus Christ for the strength to follow Him each day, and commit yourself to His service. To the problem of sin, God has come on the stage and provided a solution: His Son, Jesus Christ.
Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
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