Recently, I came into contact with two sources, both of which expressed their opinions that Christians appear to believe that they are morally superior to non-believers. This actually makes me rather sad, because it basically misses the entire point of the Christian faith, or of the moral codes in the Old Testament: the Ten Commandments.
You see, I’m not a perfect Christian, and if the question is whether or not Christians are free from sin, well, I must be a bad example. I am tempted as much as every other man, and sometimes I fail to resist temptations. What is more, I know I am not alone. I have never met a perfect Christian, and even the best, most moral believers I have ever met must admit that they are in the same condition.
I don’t know where this mistaken belief originates. Perhaps it comes from Christians who do not fully explain the gospel (as I term it, “They only discuss the first chapter of the Christian experience”). Perhaps it is because some claim to be believers, yet they do not fully understand the gospel. Or, it could be due to the fact that Christianity has taken certain stands, which are not fully understood by those outside of the faith. Whatever the reason may be, this is a tragic misunderstanding of Christian teachings.
Christians believe that the point of the Ten Commandments is not to provide a code that man can use for self-reformation, or a set of rules for man to live by. Rather, God’s purpose in the Ten Commandments is to demonstrate that we cannot live morally. In the age-old debate of whether man is basically good, basically evil, or morally neutral: Christianity is solidly on the “Man is basically evil” side of the fence. When we say man is a sinner, this is what we mean. In short, Christianity of the heart always begins with a simple admission: “I am a failure who has not lived up to God’s standards, and my inability to keep the Law proves that point.”
Yet, as I noted, this is only the first chapter. When we tell you, “God says what you are doing is wrong”, we aren’t judging you — because it isn’t the Christian’s judgment to make. Instead, we are telling you the very thing that we have already learned for ourselves: that God is a Judge, who has a perfect standard, and we don’t live up to it; neither do you. There is still hope, however, as encapsulated throughout the Bible.
The center of Christianity is Christ, Himself. He is the second person of the Trinity: God who became man; who lived a perfect life. Just as the Law judges me guilty and therefore deserving of death and hell, it judged Him to be totally perfect, and deserving therefore of Life. Yet, Jesus chose instead to die, paying the price for my sins — the debt that I can’t pay, so that I gain the benefit of His perfect life. The fact that God accepts this sacrifice is proven by His Resurrection from the dead, as we are discussing on our more technical site.
The intended purpose of this site is apologetics (explaining/defending the faith), and usually I focus, to a certain degree, on the formal issues of the Christian faith. Yet, this answer is as important as any other. Perhaps, if you bristle at Christians when they discuss morality, what you are really feeling is the pricking of your conscience. I understand the desire, as do all believers: we all want to think of ourselves as “good people” and it is conceivable that you are, in comparison to others. Yet, compared to God’s standards, we all fail to pass the test. There is an old saying that the first step is to admit that we have a problem. When it comes to sin, there is ultimately hope if we are willing to admit the ugly truth: God’s moral standards prove me imperfect and in need of Jesus as my Savior.
John 3:16 says, “For thus God loved the world, and the result is that He gave his beloved Son, that whoever will trust in Him will not be destroyed, but will have eternal life” (translation mine). Christians come to Jesus by simply trusting in His sacrifice as the final sacrifice for sin; by prayerfully asking Him to save us from destruction; to give us eternal life. Following that, the Christian life is lived, not because we are morally superior, but because we seek to honor and love the Lord who saved us. And He can — and will save you.
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are working, and carrying a heavy burden, and I will give you rest.” If the burden of your sin; if the pricking of your conscience warns you of God’s judgment, remember that He has promised to receive those who will trust in Him.