January 23, 2006 • By Ed Wrather
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. - James 2:10.
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. - James 4:17.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:7-9.
The headline from London today is that “Rescuers fall short in saving errant whale.” I watched yesterday on the news, as efforts were underway to rescue the bottlenose whale that had gotten lost and swam up the Thames River. The whale was large being 18 feet long with a weight of about four tons although that may not be so large for a whale. The whale may have gotten off course because of being ill. Attempts were made to turn the whale around but they all failed. Finally, it was decided to put the whale on a barge to take it back to the sea. Sadly, the stress on the whale’s internal organs caused it to die before making it back into the water. Silvia Mazzola who watched as the rescue was attempted said, “Yesterday, it was a carnival mood, but today it was a bit sad. It felt like a funeral on the river.”
The effort of the rescuers to save the whale and the ultimate failure is a picture of humanity’s efforts to save themselves spiritually. Sadly, it cannot be done although many have tried. Man thinks if I can keep the Law perfectly then I will be safe. If I can avoid all sin, I will be saved. If I can do more good things than bad things then I will be saved. James points out how impossible this is by saying, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” He also says, “…to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
I have had it explained to me that it is like an archer shooting arrows at a target. Each arrow falls a little short. The arrows almost make it but almost does not a bullseye make. Unless the target is hit, it is a failure and the arrows have fallen short. The rescue attempts of the whale all fell short. It was a good try, many good tries, but the whale still died. It is the same spiritually for us. We may make many good tries, our arrows may come close to hitting the mark but they still fall short. Tell one little white lie. Fail to do one good thing that we know we should have done. It just takes one little tiny sin to fall short.
Of course, some people try to deceive themselves and say, “Oh, I am perfect and I have never, ever committed any kind of sin.” What does the Bible have to say about that person? “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If we could have saved ourselves, there would have been no need for Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. If there had been any other way Jesus would not have come down from the glories of Heaven to suffer and die for us. Jesus is the only way (John 14:6). He is the only One who has ever lived a perfect life, tempted at all points yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15) so that He could be the perfect sacrifice. As Peter tells us, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).”