Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Depravity’ Category

John Lennon’s 1971 mega-hit “Imagine” enjoys international acclaim as people sing the hymn-like call for a perfect world. Believe it and it will be. “Imagine there’s no Heaven / It’s easy if you try / No Hell below us / Above us only sky / Imagine all the people / Livin’ for today.”

Many today live according to Lennon’s dream. Western culture has managed to rid itself of the old restraints that have supposedly kept us from experiencing a utopian society. Let us imagine what we want reality to be, and it will be! And “livin’ for today”? Yep—we’ve got that down.

We have a culture that is trying to reconstruct humanity along the lines of imagination. Imagine a world where there are no consequences for promiscuous sex. We’ve made abortion safe (so we’re told), legal, and not-so-rare. And those unborn babies? They wouldn’t want to be where they’re not wanted, right? They don’t have a say in the matter, but we can imagine, can’t we?

Yes—let’s live as though reality will follow our imagination. Same-sex marriage? Why not? We can imagine that homosexual couples will as able to rear psychologically-healthy children as heterosexual couples, right? We can imagine.

And what’s with this business about our sexual identity being determined by our physiology? If Bruce Jenner imagines he is a woman, then who are we to say otherwise. Mom, what if your little boy thinks he’s a girl? And you’ve always wanted a little girl. . . . A bit of makeup and surgery and drugs and . . . voila!

If we all would only imagine, what a wonderful world this would be! “Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man / Imagine all the people / Sharin’ all the world.” The reason for so much suffering, we are told, is that the few have almost everything and the most have almost nothing. What’s the solution? Increase taxes on the wealthy. They must “pay their fair share.” Now everyone will have plenty, right? After all, poor people with more money will now create jobs for others, won’t they? Hey, we can imagine.

The problem with utopian dreamers is that reality simply refuses to follow dreams. God has established certain laws that will not heed the futile dreams of depraved minds. That is really the issue, isn’t it? Who is sovereign?

The Scriptures reveal and history affirms that God made man and woman–two sexes. People may be confused about that, but confusion does not create a new reality. Some people are confused about aspects of math, but that doesn’t change the reality of numbers.

But humans will not have this God reign over them, and that is the bottom line. We would be the director of our movie, the captain of our fate. And nothing has really changed throughout all history.

The serpent tempted Eve with what is the bottom line for all sin: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). “You will be like God”—that’s what people want. Humans want to be in charge, to call the shots, to decide what “is” is, to make their own utopias.

The reality is that when humans call the shots, their innate depravity permeates everything. People are naturally greedy, and everyone’s greed mutually conflicts. When people want to be sovereign, others disagree with their view of sovereignty, and fights and wars ensue. When people choose to change their sexual orientation, their confused mentality conflicts with biological and psychological reality. Attempts at human-envisioned utopias give way to hell on earth.

There is only one answer, and that answer is submission to the divine Creator, the One who knows the way to joy and happiness and fulfillment better than we ever will. Moses clearly laid out the alternatives: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). And the apostle John points us directly to Jesus Christ: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

The reality is that we all need a radical makeover, much more radical that what Bruce Jenner envisions, one that cannot be produced with psychology, surgery, or drugs. We need new hearts; we need Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

April 1 is commonly known as April Fools’ Day, a day when pranksters delight in making others look foolish. A good time is had by all . . . with the exception of the ones on the receiving end of the pranks.

Being an April fool is one thing; being an eternal fool is another. We well know Psalm 14:1 (ESV): “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” We denounce the atheist, the one who denies that God exists, and we use this verse to justify our criticism of them.

Psalm 14:1, however, doesn’t merely have philosophical atheists in mind. Realistically, it has always been a very small percentage of humanity that denies the existence of a god or gods. The psalm points to a much larger group of fools.

In reality, all people are born fools. None understand. None “seek after God,” as Paul emphasizes in Romans 3:10. Left to ourselves, we flee from God. We in our fallenness are repulsed by God’s holiness. We flee the righteous, holy One. We are fools.

What is alarming, though, is that many who are concerned about the state of their eternal welfare remain fools. Frightened by the prospect of eternal judgment, they make a decision for Christ, perhaps walking an aisle or repeating the “sinner’s prayer.” Merely seeking an escape from hell, they fail to repent of what has separated them from God and fail to seek God himself through faith in the crucified and resurrected Jesus. For many, Christianity is not about a God to pursue. It is about a place from which they flee.

Inside and outside of church are fools who in essence say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They live as though God does not exist. Psalm 10 illustrates this: “For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’” (10:3–4). This person “says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it’” (10:11).

Such a person does not deny that God exists. Philosophically, he believes in God. He may even get teary-eyed at a music concert when a rapturous and seemingly heartfelt rendition of “Amazing Grace” is performed. Day to day, however, reveals a life of practical atheism: “He says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” His head may give a nod to God, but his heart reveals his true beliefs. Stephen Charnock [1628-1680] stated it well: “Men may have atheistical hearts without atheistical heads.”

There are plenty of deceitful politicians who say whatever is needed in order to get elected or pass legislation. There are people in business who cheat customers in order to increase their own personal wealth. People game the welfare system and others conspire with their bosses to get laid off so they can claim unemployment payments. Others engage in sin under the cloak of darkness or the privacy of their personal computers. “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” Such people are rightly denounced as practical atheists.

We ourselves need to face the question squarely, looking at ourselves rather than others. Do we gather with other believers on the Lord’s Day because that is what we are expected to do? Would we rather be at the beach or playing golf or fishing or hunting than in corporate worship? What about reading the Bible? What about praying? Do we truly desire God, or are we just trying to keep the peace with him while engaged in worldly pursuits? In spite of our

Read Full Post »

Why is sin really so bad?

It may come as a surprise to many Christians, but our society really does believe in sin. Of course, the issue is who determines what sin it. Our culture at large believes it is a sin to deny two persons of the same sex the opportunity to have their union sanctioned by the state. It is a sin to declare that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. It is a sin to prohibit a woman from having an abortionist end the life of her unborn child. Eating French fries is a sin. Eating anything fried is a sin!

An increasing number are saying that parents who teach their children such things as biblical creation, the exclusivity of the gospel, traditional marriage, and the wrongness of abortion are guilty of child abuse. We laugh at such extremism, but if the last five decades have taught us anything, it has taught us that today’s extremists become tomorrow’s academicians and politicians.

The issue of sin is a mixed up affair in America. We get some things right. Theft is still a sin. You cannot walk in a bank and demand money that belongs to others without consequence. Lying is considered a sin, depending upon who is lying to whom. It’s all relative, right?

That is the heart of the issue. Who determines what makes sin “sin”? Our culture pronounces that society itself is the final arbiter, the final say in what makes something sinful. Will such a pronouncement hold up? German society did not rise up against the concentration camps under Hitler. History is replete with examples of a society committing what later societies would denounce as wickedness. Who today holds the guillotine of the French Revolution in high esteem? Well, outside of places such as Iran and North Korea, that is.

Christians will say that something is sinful because the Bible says it is wrong. The Bible is certainly the place we want to go in order to categorize actions, but the question is not which actions are wrong, but why such actions are deemed sinful to begin with. Why is sin really a bad thing?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the long-time pastor of Westminster Chapel in London during the mid-twentieth century, throws light on the question: “Our view of sin has gone astray. We tend to think of certain actions as being sinful, and when we say that we have sinned we mean only that we have done something wrong, and that we are bearing the consequences of that. All that is true about sin, but the real essence of sin is that we are not giving the glory to God that is due to Him” (David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Purpose: An Exposition of Ephesians 1:1 to 23 [Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1978], 132).

Sin is so bad because it is rebellion against the creator God. This is his universe. All glory is due him. When we violate his commands, we seek glory for ourselves. We say that we are in charge, we are the authority, we determine what is right and what is wrong. We usurp the place of God.

Why is sin so bad? The apostle Paul puts it this way: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

Read Full Post »

R. C. Sproul once said that “the most serious philosophical problem in the 20th century is the question of the dignity of man and the uncertainty of man’s significance.”

The dignity of man has been under attack throughout the twentieth century and now into the twenty-first. Such is the direct result of the pervasive acceptance of evolution by people in general and our intelligentsia in particular. If humans are simply the result of evolution, then what is so significant about being one?

Evolution, of course, is a frontal attack on God. Though some want to have their cake and eat it, too, with their clinging to some intermingling of God and evolution with the notion of theistic evolution, God and evolution are contradictory. Either God created or he did not. Nothing in the Bible supports a belief in macro-evolution.

But God is under attack, and the Massachusetts Department of Education has launched a frontal assault. Writing for Baptist Press on February 26, Michael Foust reported, “Under a sweeping directive issued by the Massachusetts Department of Education, boys and girls who identify as the opposite sex now are allowed to use whichever school bathroom and locker room they feel most comfortable in, and schools are discouraged from using gender-based clothes and from conducting gender-based practices—even from lining up elementary-aged children based on their sex.” If so inclined, you can read all about it online at http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=39776.

Depravity, it seems, knows no depth. Children who think of themselves as the opposite sex will now be allowed to use the restroom and other changing facilities of the opposite sex, and if the child is too young to express that himself, then his parent will make the desire known for him.

What if 8th-grade girls really do not want their confused male classmate sharing the same restroom with them? That is simply too bad, according to the directive from the Massachusetts Department of Education: “Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”

Okay, there are all sorts of adjectives to describe the powers-that-be at the Massachusetts Department of Education, but I’ll leave those to your vocabulary (mine are not flattering!). This is what happens, though, when God is jettisoned and man is placed upon the throne. Idiocy reigns supreme (Romans 1:18-32).

Make no mistake about this: humans have dignity simply and solely because they are created by God and are made in his image. God created us male and female. If there is any confusion about that, it comes from humans who have rebelled against their Creator.

 

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ (Genesis 1:26–28, ESV).

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: