From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 6 – The bad news first – sin and its consequences.
Many people say they can understand that other people are sinners, such as Adolf Hitler. They will accept that people like him might be worthy of the Lake of Fire, but not themselves. They say that they themselves are not really bad people, because they “try to live a good life” and do quite well, “compared to other people”. I have heard countless people say such things in one way or another. In their opinion they themselves would never be condemned by God or sent to hell and the Lake of Fire when they die. That’s because they look upon themselves as being “basically good“. But they are totally mistaken.
Before we can even begin to understand the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have got to grasp that you and I are both sinners. So is everybody in your family, everybody on your street, everybody in your town and everybody in the whole world. There are no exceptions whatsoever. Consider what King Solomon said on this point:
When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) …..2 Chronicles 6:36(a) (NASB)
You might argue back that although you can accept that you are sometimes a sinner in small ways, you are not a ‘bad’ sinner. Perhaps you can only imagine God punishing a particularly bad sinner who commits dramatic crimes such as murder, but not someone like yourself. It would be nice if that was true, but that is not what the Bible says. Therefore if you believe that, then you are basing it simply upon your own wishful thinking and speculation. You would also be contradicting what God says directly about it.
The key to understanding Christianity is to realise that you really are a sinner and that your sin is not trivial, but grievous. Therefore unless you become a Christian and have your sins forgiven, you are facing God’s wrath, just the same as all the other people whom you, perhaps, imagine to be “worse” than you. God finds all of us guilty and unworthy be in His presence. I am not exaggerating, as I will seek to demonstrate. Let me explain it with an illustration:
Imagine that you had in front of you 10 glasses of water into which cyanide poison has been placed. In the first glass there are ten teaspoons of cyanide and in the second glass there are nine and then eight, and so on, down to the tenth glass, which only has one teaspoon of cyanide in it. Which of the ten glasses of water would you be willing to drink? The answer is that you would not drink any of them. That is exactly how God sees sin in us. The exact amount of sin in you, compared to someone else, is not the point. Any sin at all is like cyanide to God. That’s how He sees it. That’s why He must reject even the very “best” people.
The point is that it might be that I am a far worse sinner than you. Perhaps your life (as you imagine it to be) is represented by the glass of water with only one teaspoon of cyanide in it? Even if I was to agree with you about that and accept your assumption, what good would it do you? The point is that God has declared that He will not accept any sin in His presence, not even a single sin on a single day in the middle of a life that is otherwise sinless.
Even that one sin would separate you from God because it would be an abomination that He could not accept. We have to realise what God is really like. Many people have been misled through false ideas that have been put around about God being a kindly old gentleman, slightly senile, who would not harm anyone or get angry about anything. Likewise with Jesus, He is often portrayed as a soppy weakling who goes around patting children on the head and being nice. That is very far from the truth.