Because I personally sin in specific, particular ways, I am in need of a personal, specific, and particular savior.
If I had a bill from a debt collector on my desk, staring me in the face, I have two options: I could throw it away, tear it up, or cover it with ink until it’s blotted out. If this path is followed, I may forget for a day the debt I owe; but down the road I will have a nagging stone in my shoe that I cannot be rid of. I might be happy for a season in my forgetfulness, but I cannot have joy.
My second option is to pay the bill. When the debt is settled, I need not forget it. In fact the very remembrance of it brings me joy, because I know that it has been paid! There is joy in the true relief of a burden, and in its settlement I am free from its nagging grip as I live my life.
In one sense, sin is binary. I have either rebelled against my King, or I have not rebelled. But in another sense, I sin in so many numerous ways — and each one causes me a measure of pain in its own particular way. The remedy for my sin, both binary and complex, is to look at Christ; to preach, to my own heart, nothing but Christ crucified.
When I owe a debt collector $3,000 dollars then a payment of $174 won’t suffice. I need exactly the right amount to be free of that debt.
For each one of my sins, Christ filled up what I lacked in precisely the right way, so that no matter which sins I am afflicted with, I can look to Jesus Christ as sufficient to cover that particular debt. Consider your health: if you have cancer, you have a deep disease, and symptoms. Christ is both the cure for the disease, and the relief for the symptoms. When fiery serpents were afflicting the Israelites in the desert, what was erected for their salvation? A serpent. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). It’s not snake oil; it’s antivenom.
When I face my sin of pride, I must consider first what an offense that is to the Most High God who created me. Then I must consider my inability to stuff my pride down myself — for what would that breed but boasting in my own strength? Finally, I must look to the cross. There the Word by whom all things were created, who had eternal glory with the Father all the way back into eternity, “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” He emptied himself, he lowered himself, he abased himself. For me. He was meek and lowly, in the deepest depths of his heart. And after he, unrecognizable as a man, bore his cross for me to pay for my specific sins, he said with a voice that penetrates to my heart, “take up your cross and follow me.” How can pride stand against such a Savior?!
It is when hurling myself at my savior, and having my feet washed, that I find freedom, sanctification (as his Spirit ministers the Word of God to my heart); it’s where I find joy.