In this passage, at the very beginning, it is shown the Lord’s willingness to save any who call upon Him in the sincerity of their hearts, and that he has the strength and sovereignty to accomplish it. It goes on though to describe in detail why it is that we are separated from Him and what keeps us from being saved. Of course the easy, textbook answer is that our sin has caused that separation. But expanded and reflected upon, the blame is clearly placed on us, not on God deciding or not deciding to save us. He does choose who He will save, but He cannot be blamed for your sinful actions. In no way will He ever be blamed for whether or not you were saved in the end. That’s the point of this passage, to show where the blame lies and why. It describes the condition of our hearts before the Lord and why it is a person is not saved. Indeed, in the first verse, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save you. But after that truth is stated, it then shows what holds us back from salvation: to put it bluntly, it is all our fault; and more specifically directed to you, the reader, it is all your fault. “For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness,” the passage states. This is all of us, not just the “worst” of us from the world’s perspective. We all have blood on our hands, we are all guilty of murder before the eyes of the Lord. In our hearts, when we are simply indifferent toward another person, we have committed murder in our hearts. Men, Jesus stated that if you even look at a woman lustfully, you have already committed adultery with her in your heart. It states in God’s word that if you break one law, you are guilty of breaking the entire law. It’s all or nothing, you keep it all, or break one law and you are done for. What’s the point? We are all spiritually bankrupt, and until you see the utter desperation of the human condition (more specifically, your own personal desperation and inability to anything right[eous] in the eyes of the Lord apart from His grace, you will never understand, appreciate, or attain salvation. To be poor in spirit is to rightly understand your spiritual condition before the Lord and mourn because of that condition. You have no hope in and of yourself. To be really honest, this passage is quite a downer to man apart from the grace of God. It is extremely negative and no one wants to admit their condition to be this bad. In fact that world takes the opposite approach, attempting to build up self-worth within you, which only lasts for a time and is dependant upon your actions. If we view ourselves as anything better than this state, we’ve missed the mark on understanding where we stand before the eyes of the Lord. All of us have blood on our hands. We are all murderes, adulterers, liars, filthy, wicked sinners. All of us have broken the law of God many times over, more than can be counted. All of us speak lies everyday, and our tongues are always muttering wickedness. It may not be the type of wickedness people consider wickedness in the world (like a serial killer, rapist, child molester, etc.), but other people’s opinions don’t matter in this context, only the Lord’s decree matters here. He defines the reality of right and wrong. When it all comes down in the end, it’s between you and the Lord and what He deems righteous in His eyes. And He has deemed that before His eyes, all of us, even you, are so desperately wicked that if you were to see the rottenness and decay of your soul, it is my speculative opinion you would die from shock. So again, what’s the point here? You cannot save yourself by any willing of your volition, or rolling up your sleeves and “gettin’ it done (morally speaking) for Jesus.” God does not help those who help themselves because we can’t help ourselves, scripture is very clear on this; this is what it means to be dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1, speaking about the state of believer’s prior to their conversion); we are totally morally unable to do anything right before the Lord. To express the attitude toward Christianity that, “God helps those who help themselves,” is to show a complete lack of understanding of the Biblical nature of man (morally dead and decaying) and the Biblical nature of God (sovereign, just, righteous), and what it cost God to save anyone at all; namely the precious blood of the Father’s Son. So where’s the hope for any of us? What do we see here? We are at out wits end before God, we have nothing to offer Him, so what can we do? Nothing, that’s the point. God has to change us first before we can even see or hear God spiritually. The hope comes in though with Jesus Christ. He is calling, even commanding everyone to believe in Him for salvation. Because everyone is so desperately wicked, and being that no one can save themselves, someone has to do it for us with the strength to carry it out. That person was Jesus, God in the flesh. Jesus, being God, became one of us, putting on flesh just like the rest of us, living as we do. The only difference here is that Jesus was both fully man and fully God. In order for us to be saved, someone had to live the life we couldn’t live. Jesus lived that perfect life, fulfilling all righteousness before the eyes of the Father. Because of the great chasm between man and God, our sins have to be atoned for, wiped away, cleansed, before we can even have a relationship with God again at all. Jesus was perfect, and because of this, He became the perfect, spotless sacrifice for sinners. By the will of the Father, Jesus was beaten, whipped, cut, His back ripped apart, insulted, humiliated, strung up on a cross. Nails pierced His hands and feet, a crown of thorns driven into His skull. He hung on that cross until satisfaction was made for the sins of any who would believe in Him. The thing that struck Jesus to the core more than all of that though was the wrath of the Father. He drunk deep of the full wrath of God, stirred in all of its fury, all for a bunch of wicked, viper-like sinners who rejected Him in their sin, even killing God on the cross! What amazing love. Jesus made satisfaction for sins on the cross, bled, and died. He died the the death we should die, even now, for our awful sins. But this Savior, this wonderful God who became one us was not defeated by death, but by the power of God was brought back to life, and he reigns in heaven above, over all things. All things have been handed over to Him by the Father in heaven and on Earth. This is where our hope is in all this negativity about man. Our hope is completely rooted in Christ and His work alone, not in our work and what we can give to God. We can give nothing to God in return for the death of His Son. Nothing would ever match up to an infinitely perfect gift as Jesus. For those of you who think you’re pretty good, moral people, look at the cross where Christ died. Consider what it took to atone for sins. If you’ve believed on Christ for salvation, it took the death of the Son of God to atone for you! What a clear indictment of your infinite guilt before the the Father. Is your separation from God not just as bad as the mass murderer or the child molester? Did it take that ultimate sacrifice to cover pretty good, moral people? Absolute not! It took the death of Christ to cover wicked sinners, all of us are included, there are no exceptions to this. That’s the point here, even you are wicked beyond measure. Jesus made this very clear to the Pharisees in the Gospel’s. He stated that unless your own self-righteouess surpasses that of the Pharisee’s, you will never see the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:20). Even they, in their own self-righteousness, fell infinitely short of the glory of God, and they were the moral best of all of us! For those of you though who think you are totally beyond the reach of God’s grace to save you because of the things you’ve done in the past, look at the cross where Christ died. If His blood is of infinite worth (which it is), can it not cover an infinite number of sins in your life, no matter how big or small? Repent from your sin, turn from your ways of wickedness, and believe in Him, trust Him as your Lord and Savior, the great Messiah, and He can rescue you no matter where you are at spiritually. He has the infinite power and strength to save you and He will if in the sincerity of your heart you ask Him. “The Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save.” You are never beyond the reach of God’s grace, no matter what you’ve done. I don’t know how much clearer I can make that.
Though I typically don’t like using movie quotes as illustrations, especially from this movie, this one applies here from the movie Fight Club (Tyler Durden): “It’s not until you lose everything that you are free to do anything.” Until we’re bankrupt spiritually before God, we cannot fully appreciate what Christ has done on the cross. If you think you have it all together, consider the things I’ve said. Even our best works are like filthy rags before the eyes of the Lord (Isaiah 64:6). Our only hope is in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection for sinners. My plea to you is to believe in Jesus Christ and He will wipe away all of your wrong-doing, all of your sin and wickedness. We have nothing to offer God, but He offers us everything in Christ, even His own righteousness, the only thing God will accept as payment for your sin; paid for through Jesus’ blood.