I am sure you’ve heard the old saying, “I’m OK, you’re OK.”

The phrase was popularized as the title of a 1969 self-help book on transactional analysis. The meaning over the years has developed to mean, “You don’t need to change me and I don’t need to change you.”

At its heart, it means that we are fine just the way we are, regardless of our shortcomings and blemishes. It’s all a lie, though, because the reality is I’m not OK and neither are you! At least not when we compare ourselves to the holiness of God. Spiritually speaking, we are all deeply flawed.

That’s the heart of Paul’s message in Romans 3:10-18, when he pretty much says we are all a depraved hot mess.

“There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Some folks might say those things about their mother-in-law, but would never make application to themselves. Paul insists these things are true of every one of us.

We are basically mindless, blind, wayward, useless, evil, deceitful, lying, crude, profane, murderous, snake-tongued, godless wretches! Or at least that describes us apart from God’s saving grace.

In such a state, the only way we can be useful to God is if HE makes us useful. My natural inclination is to try to be so good that God would have to welcome me into His eternal home. Scripture tells me, though, that I can’t Goody Two-shoes my way into heaven. I need something only God can provide.

That something is justification by faith. I need the message of Romans 3:23-24: “... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. ...”

These verses tell me that I can’t be perfect, but I can be perfected through the perfect blood of Jesus, my Lord. Paul continues in verse 26, by stating that God can be both, “… just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Justified. That’s what we need. Justification is only available through faith in Jesus. To be justified is to be deemed by God to be just as if i’d never sinned!

That’s what we all need and God gives that free gift when we repent of our sins and are baptized into Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God for such a perfect, matchless, redeeming and freeing gift.Thanks be to God for applying His amazing grace to save a wretch like me!

Keith Cormier is minister of Southside Church of Christ in Killeen.

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