What’s the best way to learn how to spot counterfeit currency? By becoming thoroughly familiar with the real thing. Likewise, before we discuss the Watchtower salvation system with Jehovah’s Witnesses, we need to make sure we have a solid understanding of what the Bible actually teaches.
As we examine God’s plan of salvation, let’s first look at the problems he had to solve. We human beings like to think of ourselves as basically good with a few character flaws that we need to try to overcome. But the Bible tells us that our problem is far worse than that. In fact, its diagnosis of our natural condition is dismal:
Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, 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.’ ‘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 3:9-18)
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” In Ephesians 2:1-2, Paul goes beyond this and says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” We aren’t able to live up to our own stated moral codes, let alone God’s.
From these Scriptures, we learn that as sinful descendants of Adam, we have two distinct—though related—problems. The first problem is our sins. There is something wrong with our behavior. The second problem is our selves. There is something wrong with us.
- We need to be saved from the penalty of our sins – a way to pay our sin debt to God. In short, we need forgiveness.
- We need to be saved from the power of sin that controls us. We are born spiritually dead, a condition we inherited as descendants of Adam. Self-improvement plans cannot make us righteous. We need a way to become righteous inside so that we can live the kind of life God desires. In short, we need transformation.
God’s plan of salvation provides the solution to both of these problems because it is dependent on the finished work of Christ. In contrast, the Watchtower’s system of salvation solves neither of the problems because it is dependent on a never-ending series of works done by sinful and fallible human beings.
In the next two posts, I will discuss how God has solved each of these problems.
Do you find this overview of the issue of human sin helpful in understanding what God’s plan of salvation was designed to accomplish?
Share your thoughts in the comments.