Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived the most beautiful princess. She was happy and content living with her family. But one horrible day a fierce dragon came and snatched her away. He carried her to the most wretched excuse for a castle in the most wretched of lands where it was always dark, always lonely and always undesirable.
Now, every prince in the land longed for this princess to be his wife. One by one they summoned every bit of courage they could find and stormed the castle, only to be instantly destroyed by the dragon. It seemed as though the princess would be lost forever. No one could save her from the dragon…. except for one man. He was as valiant and strong as she was beautiful. He had a deep voice and a sword as fierce as the dragon. He ran up to the castle with his heart set on saving the princess. As he approached the dragon he scoffed and ran right past it. On he ran until he reached his princess. She was more beautiful than he ever remembered. He knew he loved her. He also knew that they should leave, wasting no time and stopping for nothing.
So he grabbed her hand and they ran. They ran right out of the castle and away from the wicked land. Every few minutes he would squeeze her hand to make sure she was still with him and still safe. When he knew they were far enough away, he finally looked behind him. His heart sank and his eyes filled with tears. His princess was still there, and she was still the most beautiful being he had ever laid eyes on. But something was terribly wrong. For what he saw was his princess holding onto the dragon with her other hand. She had pulled it along the entire journey.
With tears still in his eyes and a great love for her he spoke, “I thought I saved you, but from what? You have brought the dragon with us.”
If she wasn’t saved from the dragon, what was she saved from? Was she saved at all?
A friend of mine told me this story, and I tell it to you to illustrate what I think is one of the most important things we can understand. When we are saved, we are not just saved from Hell. Hell is not the reason we need a savior. What I’d like to submit is that Jesus saves us from sin – our sin.
Eph 2:1-5 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– (3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– ”
Paul doesn’t speak of Hell here. He says the Ephesians were dead in sins. Then he talks about sin some more and then says that they have been saved. People when saved are saved from sin. When we paint the gospel to be a message of salvation from Hell, we miss it. We appeal to the person’s selfishness. Why go to Hell when you can have this nice Heaven? And in this way, we can easily add more jewels in our crowns. We can easily get people “saved.” But if it stops there, I would question whether they are saved. After all what were they saved from?
Sin is the dragon in the story. God wants to save us. He accomplished everything that needed to be accomplished on the Cross. But for us to be saved, we must let go of the dragon’s hand. We have to leave sin behind.
1Jn 3:6-10 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (7) Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (8) Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (9) No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (10) By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.