Harvest Season // Bursting the Self-Righteous Bubble

By Pastor Nate Powell

Last week, we talked about the Gospel, but this week, I want to talk about the biggest obstacle to the Gospel. The Biggest obstacle to the Gospel is Me.

What do I mean by that, you might wonder? How could Nate Powell be the biggest obstacle to the gospel?

I’m not just talking about me. I’m talking about you as well. I’m talking about all of us. We, as humans in both our sinfulness and our pride, are the biggest obstacles to the Gospel. Remember what 1 Corinthians 15:3 says about the Gospel: “Christ died for our sins.” We really shouldn’t gloss over the “for our sins” part of that passage, because if we don’t understand that Christ died paying the price of the sin that each of us have committed, we really don’t understand the Gospel and we are not right with God. Receiving the Gospel means bending the knee at the cross to say to Jesus that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for my sin.

When I am visiting with many people who are talking about baptism, this is the one thing that often prevents them from doing it or me from following thru and agreeing to baptize them. If you don’t understand your sin and the depth of your sin problem, then you really don’t understand your need for Jesus, and you need to hear the Gospel again and believe it.

How bad is our sin problem? It’s bad enough that Paul sums up the whole of scripture’s teaching on mankind’s nature in Romans 3:10-12: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” It’s bad enough that Jesus says that “no one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:17-18) It’s bad enough that everywhere you turn, even the most revered figures of the Bible are flawed and fallen: from Noah’s drunkenness, to Abraham’s lying about his wife, to David’s affair and coverup murder, to Peter’s betrayal. No one is good but God. And God is the hero of the Bible.

That is why Jesus is the only one who could do this. He is perfect. We are not. And it is only in realizing that we are not that we can approach the throne and get upon his forgiveness and his grace (1 John 1:9, Ephesians 2:8-9).

So it’s not our goodness that gets us to heaven and it’s not our good deeds outweighing out bad deeds. That is Karma, not the Gospel. And that is not how God works.

So I would ask you today: do you know that you have sinned and have broken God’s holy commands, not just once, but over and over? Don’t believe me? Here’s a short quiz regarding the 10 commandments which God gave to Moses in Exodus 20:1-17:

  1. God says that you shall have no other gods before me. You may say you believe in one God, but have you ever prioritized anything or anyone above God? If you have, you have broken the first commandment.
  2. God says that we are not to make an idol. You may not have any statues that you bow down before, but I think if we are all honest, we can say that there are items in our lives that have been more important to us than God. It could be a car, a house, a family heirloom, or yes, even a statue. If you have every prioritized stuff over God, you’ve broken the second commandment.
  3. God says that we are not to take his name in vain. Could you say that God’s name, Jesus’ name have never come off of your lips inappropriately or irreverently? If you’ve spoken of God or Jesus in trivial or unholy ways, you have broken the 3rd commandment.
  4. God says that we are remember the sabbath, the day of rest and keep it holy. Could you say that you’ve always remembered to take a day off each week both for rest and worship? If you haven’t, you have broken the 4th commandment.
  5. God says that we are to honor our father and mother. But how many of us have talked back, put down, disobeyed, and dishonored our parents at some point in our lives? If you’ve ever done it, you’ve broken the 5th commandment.
  6. God says that we are not to murder. And this is often our best defense of our goodness … that we haven’t killed anyone. But Jesus says in Matthew 5 that is we hate someone, or call them a fool, we have committed murder in our hearts. Most of us haven’t literally killed anyone, but many of us have hated and not forgiven. If you have done that, you are guilty before God and you’ve broken the 6th commandment.
  7. God says we are not to commit adultery. That is, to have sexual relations outside of marriage covenant between man and woman. Some of you would claim to be innocent, but Jesus says that if we have as much as lusted over a woman in our heart, we are guilty of committing adultery. If you have lusted in person or in heart, you have broken the 7th commandment.
  8. God says that we are not to steal. You may not be a thief, but have you ever not returned something that you borrowed, pirated something off the internet that didn’t belong to you, or simply forget to pay for something that you had agreed to purchase. If you’ve thieved, whether large or small, you have broken the 8th commandment.
  9. God says we are not to lie against our neighbor. But have you ever lied to tear someone else down or make yourself look good. If you are honest with yourself, you know that you have broken the 9th commandment.
  10. God says that we are not to covet (want for) the possessions of others. We are to be content in him. But could it be said that every day we are content in Him and content with all of what He has provided for us. If you’ve ever lustfully wanted after the things of others, you have broken the 10th commandment.


I cannot answer those questions for you, but when I answer them for myself, I know I have (to some measure or another) broken all 10 of God’s commandments. So what does that leave me with? I leads me to look to the cross where the innocent lamb laid down his life for the lost sheep. Yes, even for a lost sheep like me.

To respond to the Gospel is to say to Jesus that we are not good but that he is infinitely good. There was no way the our righteousness could ever save us. It is only by the blood of Jesus. Paul says that we are “Justified by his blood.” (Rom 5:9) John says it is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7). The Hebrews writer says that the blood of Jesus purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb 9:14)

So don’t wait. Look in the mirror today, and look to the savior. He is the perfect lamb of God who died to save us from our sin. If our sin is not real, or if our sin doesn’t really matter, then his death didn’t really matter.

So, recognize who you are without Jesus: a sinner. When you recognize that, you know why you need him and you are ready to respond to His Gospel.
Living in the Grace of Jesus,
Pastor Nate