Summary: It takes more than knowledge of Jesus Christ for salvation. It requires a personal relationship with Him.
If I were to ask you if you are a sinner, what would you think of? Murder, adultery, theft, drunkenness, or some other of the most obvious evils? If so, the chances are that you would insist you are not guilty of any of these. One man said he felt it was an insult to call him a sinner. Obviously, he thought of sin only in terms of those things just mentioned. Yet, the Bible says in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Not some, but all, and that includes you and me.
Therefore, we may well ask what does the Bible mean by sin. There are many words used to describe sin, but the one most often used simply means to miss the mark.
It’s like shooting at a target. You may miss it by an inch; while someone else misses by a mile. Both missed the target. With respect to sin, the target is the holy, righteous nature of God. So unless you are as good as God, then you are a sinner.
We tend to grade sins. We call some people murderers, adulterers, thieves, and drunkards. We call others liars, even little liars, disobedient to parents, people who use profane language, people who covet or who disregard the Lord’s day as holy.
But God calls all of them sinners. Each one has violated God’s law. James 2:10 says, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all."
Now you may miss the mark by faulty aim. You may discount the holy, righteous nature of God. You may assume that something less than God’s character will be sufficient for you. Or you may miss the mark by lack of power to drive your arrow to the goal. You may aim dead center at God’s nature and purpose to equal it in your life, but you discover that your strength is insufficient to reach the goal. So despite careful aim, you fall short of the glory of God.
What Is The Sin?
However, for the moment, let’s forget these evident sins. They are only the outward evidence of the sinful nature that dwells in all of us. A man may be forgiven these sins through faith in Jesus Christ, but there is one sin that is deadliest of sins. It is respectable but deadly. What is this sin? It is the sin of unbelief or a lack of faith in God through Jesus Christ. It is to this sin that Jesus referred in our text: "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).
What must you do to be lost? Not a thing in the world. For, you see, outside of Christ, you are already lost. Because of our sinful nature, we are separated from God. It is impossible, in our own strength, to live according to God’s nature as holiness and righteousness. For that reason, God sent His Son to die for our sin, to be raised from the dead, that He might provide the righteousness we cannot achieve for and in ourselves.
In Romans 10, Paul spoke of the zeal for God on the part of his Jewish contemporaries. He said it was not a zeal according to knowledge. They ignored God’s provision for righteousness through Christ.
Listen to what he wrote in Romans 10:3-4: "For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." This statement applies to all people, Jew and Gentile alike.
If unbelief or lack of faith toward Christ is a respectable but deadly sin, what do we mean by unbelief? The word unbelief actually means "no faith." Now every one of you lives by faith: faith in your wife, other people, your wife, in the laws of nature, in economic principles ... to mention only a few. So it is not so much a matter of faith as it is a faith in whom or what. The lack of faith under consideration is lack of faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin.
Faith has three basic meanings. It means to believe intellectually. You read something and accept it as true. Such belief does not affect your way of living.
For it to do that, you must believe it volitionally. It must pass from your mind to your will. In so doing, you trust in it and commit yourself to it as a way of life.
For example, you have some money you want to deposit in a bank for safekeeping, so you read the financial statement of a bank. It shows the bank to be strong financially. You believe what it says, but that is only believing about it. You believe in it when you trust your money to it. You commit your money to it by making a deposit in the bank.