A New Suit in the Outhouse

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, March 11, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

One of the things that my family members and I like to do when we get together is play cards. This has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember and we are very competitive, even to the point of trash-talking each other during the games. My dad has a saying that I’m guessing he took from playing cards with his dad and brothers growing up and he uses it to describe the circumstances when someone else in the game gets lucky. If a person makes a strategic error and still gets rewarded for it, my dad will say, “Man, he fell into the outhouse and came out with a new suit on!”

No matter where you live, work, play, or go to school, people generally like to present themselves at their very best. You don’t show up to an interview for a new job wearing dirty sweat pants and a shirt with cut-off sleeves. You don’t go to a first date without taking care of necessary hygiene concerns. You don’t give a speech or take an important test without preparing and you don’t enter the big game without practicing and coming up with a game plan. Those who don’t follow these simple unwritten “rules” of society are seen as lazy or apathetic. While we all know that appearance isn’t everything, we generally try to hide our shortcomings and accentuate our strengths. We try to control what we can and we are usually dealing with others who, for the most part, can only see what we choose to let them see.

But this is not the case with our Creator. He has the ability to see everything that we do and everything that we are. There is no imperfection or shortcoming that is hidden from him. We may fool ourselves into thinking that we can present our very best before God by showing up every Sunday for church, speaking about him to others, and praying regularly. But he is not deceived. He sees us, hears us, and knows even our secret thoughts at ALL times, no matter how we present ourselves when we think it matters.

In Romans 3:9-20, the Apostle Paul concludes that, before God, no one is righteous and all are under the power of sin regardless of their background. For human beings, the picture is pretty dim. We can’t present our best before God because there really is no “best”. Take a look specifically at verses 10-18, where Paul quotes pieces of Scripture from Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah to describe the utter hopelessness of mankind. The state of the human race, as Paul sees it, is a wasteland. There is “not even one” who does good or seeks God. Everyone has become “worthless”. Poison, deceit, cursing, and bitterness are all mentioned as things that come from their mouths. They don’t know peace and are “swift to shed blood”. They are ruined and miserable and “there is no fear of God before their eyes”. As my dad might say, this is quite an “outhouse”.

The passage for this week is not one that we want to read when we are seeking encouragement. Pastors may shy away from preaching it because no one leaves “feeling good”. Yet, it is one of the most important things for us to understand in the Bible. How can we accept a Savior if we don’t believe we need one? Do you think you are good enough that God will approve of you apart from Jesus? If so, I urge you to read that passage again. Read it over and over again until the truth of your own hopelessness as a result of your actions is obvious to you. Paul finishes the section by saying that we will all be held accountable to God (v. 19), and that “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law” (v. 20). In other words, none of the supposed “good” things we think we do could possibly make up for all of the ways we have rebelled against God. We need another solution.

Paul wrote similar words about how we are presented in God’s sight in his letter to the Colossians. “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation - if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel” (Colossians 1:21-23a). This is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament. Look at it piece by piece. Paul explains the state of alienation that we were in as enemies of God because of our behaviors, just as he explained in Romans 3:9-20. But here, he explains that God didn’t leave us in that state. God chooses to reconcile us to himself by the work of Christ on the cross, so that whoever believes is presented as “holy” and “without blemish”. Talk about coming out of that mess with a new suit on! Without Christ, we are seen as the complete wasteland (or outhouse) that we are. But through faith in Christ and his work, we are presented as absolutely perfect. Our only part beyond that is to keep the faith and stand firm remembering that the hope is only found in the gospel and not in anything that we can do.

If you have not experienced this transformation from the outhouse to a new suit, I encourage you to think about your life and how you will be presented before God as it stands now. Make no mistake, the Bible says in Revelation that all will be judged, which means we will all stand before God one way or another. The good news is that God isn’t waiting for you to leave the outhouse. Romans 5:8 says that he demonstrates his love for us in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Friends, that means God has given you a new suit to wear while you were still stuck in your own mess. You don’t have to wait until you have it all together because you never will. All you need to do is accept your hopelessness apart from Jesus and then, by faith, grab hold of the hope that is only found in him. Will you make that change today? If so, be sure to let us at Worldview Warriors know so we can welcome and support you. If not, just remember that you have no idea how many more chances you will get.

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