Saturday, June 18, 2011

Embracing the Biblical View of Depravity, Part Two. God's Awesome Holiness: A Contrast.

     "And one called to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory,'" Isaiah 6:3.
     "And I said: Woe is me!  For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" Isaiah 6:5.

     While volumes of books could be written about my depravity and ignorance, God has actually had volumes of books written about His holiness and wisdom.  He is all powerful, all knowing, all good and sovereign over all things.  Even more, He is perfect in all his affections as I've heard it put.  The constant thread running through all His perfections is His holiness.  God is completely separate from all His creation.  Sin has marred all of creation yet God is holy, He is separate and cannot tolerate sin in His presence or have any relationship to it at all as the Moody Handbook of Theology puts it.  This is why Isaiah was so terrified in the presence of God and why he had to be temporarily purified by burning coals to be in the presence of the Lord. 
     God's holiness is terrifying and illuminating.  Isaiah was terrified, Moses had to watch his step in approaching the burning bush and Peter knew that he was unworthy to be in Jesus' presence after the relatively minor miracle of a great haul of fish.  God is so different than we are.  We find it hard to understand God at all.  That is why God gave us His holy word, the Bible.  The Bible's description of God is awe inspiring.  He created all of everything out of nothing, with just a word of His mouth.  That is just the first line of the first book of the Bible.  The rest of the Bible fleshes out God's greatness, love and perfection against the backdrop of our weakness, evil and depravity.  We are told relentlessly, in this day and age, that we must see things through other peoples eyes.  We must try and understand things according to their culture, race, gender and background.  Yet, do we try and see things from God's perspective?  Do we want to see things as God sees them may be a more important question.  This is what we should strive to do every day of our lives as we seek God in prayer, ministry and His word.  This will be terrifying coming to understand God, who is holy.  Even more, the closer we come to God, the more His complete uniqueness and purity will illuminate even the tiniest sin we have.  Isaiah was likely the holiest man in Israel yet he could not withstand the purity of God.  This illumination will drive us to our knees and humble us.  There is no doubt that wherever you see a man, professing faith or not, who thinks that he is the stuff, he has not been in the presence of God recently.  Humility flows generously from a heart that is close to God.  Proverbs teaches that "Pride comes before a fall".  It stands to reason than that humility comes before a glorious resurrection.  Moses was called the most humble man in all the earth and God allowed him to see a portion of Him passing by.  Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross as His word so eloquently tells us.  God's holiness will humble us.  If we are not humble, we have not seen Him.
     While this seems unbridgeable, our depravity and God's holiness, we are instructed in Leviticus and in Peter's epistle to "Be holy for I am holy."  This is impossible!  On my best day, I am stuck in the world, apart from God more times than I can count!  I can hardly say that I have separated myself from sin.  Yet, the command is there and we must be obedient.  We are told to, "Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh," in Galatians.  Holiness is commanded and we must be obedient and God has graciously, unbelievably and fortuitously given us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to lead us into holiness.  Oh grace be to God, He is awesome!  We can be holy, not in our power, but in His and He gives us His word, His Spirit, His church and an awesome Gospel to preach.  Truly we must understand that while we are weak, He is strong and stronger is Him who is in us than he who is in the world.  God just wants us to surrender to His power and walk in His strength.  We have no strength in our depraved condition. 
     God's holiness truly illuminates our depravity and draws us closer to Him.  We need to abide in Him and He will give us the desires of our hearts and our hearts will be holy.
     God Bless you and learn, live and love the Gospel of our glorious Savior!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Have you hugged a depraved maniac today? Embracing the biblical view of depravity.

     "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," Genesis 6:5.
     There are countless stories of people playing with fire, figuratively, and then getting burned, often, to death.  Stories of people with crazy wild animals as pets.  They love these animals and often raise them from birth, as the only parents that the wild beasts know and yet, one day, the beast turns on them in a tragic and sometimes horrific way.
     The Bible teaches from its earliest chapters that man is like a wild animal even to the point of "every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."  The Bible clearly teaches man's utter depravity yet we always seem to be caught by surprise at how wicked our fellow man can be.  We forget that "the heart is deceitful above all things and wicked, who can know it," Jeremiah 17:9.  We can get so caught up in a person or people in general and forget that in our heart, we are wicked.  How often do we see the neighbor of a horrific murderer interviewed and their standard response about their neighbor is, "He/she was a good neighbor and helped...."  Humans can be just like a wild beast who seems tame for even years on end but they turn into a vicious killer in a moments notice.
     This is the difficult thing about the doctrine of depravity.  99.9% of people seem to be nice most of the time.  Unless we are watching a horrific show like The Housewives of Insanity County or Bridezilla's we don't run into vicious, conniving people on a regular basis let alone a serial killer.  Maybe it is best to understand depravity for what it doesn't mean.  It does not mean that people are always seeking to rape, pillage and murder everyone they see.  We have a view of depravity that is reserved for the worst of the worst.  No, we are all depraved from head to toe unless... well, we'll get to that later.  Depravity, in its most concise understanding, means that in our fallen nature, we are completely sinful.  The Moody Handbook of Theology puts it this way, "A term(depravity) used to refer to the corruption of sin extending to all people and affecting the entire person-his intellect, emotions and will-so that nothing in the person can commend him to God."  That hits the nail on the head!  What does this mean?  Well Rob Bell, it does mean that Gandhi is in Hell.  Gandhi was maybe the greatest example of a wonderful do gooder ever.  He was nonviolent and loving and fairy dust and flowers showered him wherever he went(so the legend goes).  Yet he lacked any goodness in his soul.  Nothing he did pleased God.  Yes Mr. Bell, Gandhi's good deeds were as filthy rags before the Lord.  Gandhi did these things under his own power, his own righteousness, er, his own depravity.  Let me ask you a question at this point.  Who did Jesus reserve the harshest judgment for?  The Pharisees.  Why?  Did they love the word of God and let it have authority in their lives?  No, they did not.  They loved the traditions of the elders and often used those to nullify the word of God.  Paul, in a similar vein, warned us not to follow the vain philosophies of man.  Gandhi had no fear of God and never offered any sign of repentance.  Unless he repented of his sins and confessed Christ at his deathbed he went where all those who trust in their own righteousness go: Hell. 
     From Moses to David to Jeremiah to Jesus to Paul we are taught that we are depraved, unable to please God.  Our most righteous deeds done in our flesh are the most repugnant of all things to God because they do nothing to advance His kingdom and everything to advance our kingdom.  We become the most miserable, self important and inflated boobs that can be imagined when we do works in our own power.  We become like King Nebuchadnezzar and believe ourselves all powerful and wise.  God must take us down a notch.  No, He must takes us down, turn us upside down and turn us completely around.  We are useless to God in our depraved state and He must send His Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin and pride and bring us down to the dirt.  We must acknowledge our depravity, repent of our evil and confess our sins to Christ.  We must believe upon His death on the cross for our sins and trust in His resurrection from the dead and ask Him to Lord over our lives in every detail.  Only then can we turn our filthy rags into gold and precious gems that do not decay or rust.
     Not only this, but we must understand our the biblical view of depravity informs our lives in every way and relationship.  Especially in our own skin where we still continue to sin.  But more of this later.  We just need to make sure that we are, "as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves" when we are walking about in this world so that we are not devoured by the beasts all around us.  God Bless you all and learn, live and love the gospel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bible Quiz

     1) Which one of these common phrases is in the Bible?
          A. Cleanliness is next to Godliness
          B. The Lord helps those who help themselves
          C. Lord willing

     2) Which one of these common phrases is in the Bible?
          A. Idleness is the devils play ground
          B. By the skin of your teeth
          C. The devil made me do it

      3) Who were Isaac's son's?
          A. Shadrach and Meshach
          B. Judah and Benjamin
          C. Jacob and Esau

       4) Which two brothers(half) of Jesus wrote books of the Bible?
          A. Judas and James
          B. Peter and John
          C. Moses and Jonah

        5) Who didn't get to see the Promised Land because of his impetuous anger?
          A. Joshua
          B. David
          C. Moses

         6) Which one of these celebrations was not authorized in Leviticus 23?
           A. Purim
           B. The Passover
           C. Pentecost

          7) Who was Jesus' cousin?
            A. Peter
            B. John the Baptist
            C. Mary Magdalene

           Answers: c,b,c,a,c,a,b
           God Bless you and learn, live and love the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ!