It you are sneezing, it is fairly clear that sneezing is not the real problem. You either have an allergy or a disease and the sneezing is just a symptom pointing you to a deeper problem. You could stuff tissues up your nose or find a way of permanently blocking your nose. This would give a temporary solution to the symptom but it wont solve the underlying problem. In fact, the pressure will probably build up until your head explodes. It seems obvious that the sensible solution is to see a doctor and deal with the real disease.

We need to realise that this is the same situation with Sin. Sin is just a symptom of a deeper disease of the heart. We sin because we are desperately looking for love. This sickness of the heart then manifests itself as lust, anger, jealousy, sloth, etc; but we need to be really clear that what we call ‘sin’ is actually just a symptom pointing us to the real problem.

If we look at life in this way, we discover the difference between the ‘law’ and grace. The law was the equivalent of trying to block-up your nose to stop sneezing: surround yourself with laws to shame you into changing your behaviour. This can work for a short time, but eventually the pressure builds up and you explode into even worse behaviour.

The mystery of Grace is that Jesus came to deal with the real problem by loving us. When he sat down with sinners, it was as though he was saying, ‘I can put up with your sneezing, as long as you are committed to dealing with the cause of the problem’. As we gaze upon the cross, and allow ourselves to be loved, we find that our reason for sinning gradually disappears.