John 3:20-21 “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Michael continues that there are many old TV shows about smart animals who were the stars of their shows. Shows like Flipper, Lassie, and even Garfield the Cat featured animals who were smarter than their "masters." However, there were no hero stories about great sheep. Sheep are notoriously stupid animals. If their shepherd didn't move them to green pastures, the sheep would starve to death. Sheep will follow each other over a cliff to their death. However, sheep know one thing: they know when they are lost. A "cast" sheep is a sheep who falls over on its back and cannot get up. The sheep will die in this position if it can't get off its back. This is a picture of the human condition. We cannot save ourselves. People often say, "If I'm good enough for me, then I'm good enough for God." However the Holy Bible makes it clear that without God we're like cast sheep: Hopeless and helpless. Unless the shepherd finds us we will die in our cast down position. However the shepherd Himself saves us. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, for He who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Salvation has two parts. First we must repent and turn from sin to the Savior. The second part of salvation is His "imputation" of His righteousness on our behalf. This "double transaction" results in salvation. The difference between the publicans and sinners and the Pharisees is that the first group knew that they were lost. When the shepherd finds the lost sheep he doesn't say, "You stupid sheep, you got yourself lost." The shepherd simply carries the sheep on his shoulders with love and compassion back to the safety of the sheep fold. He throws a party with goodwill and laughter for having found the sheep that was lost.
Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
It's easy to focus on guilt and sin-consciousness. However, Christianity is not about sin. Rather it's about the Savior from sin. Jesus says: I'll keep all their rules for you. I'll keep them on your behalf. He says allow me to carry you and I'll take you to glory. The only thing that God asks is that we live in amazement and gratitude for what He's done. As long as we live a life of thankfulness, everything else will fall into place. If we're here today, it's not because we found Him. It's because I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. What amazing Grace!!!
May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ, Michael