Friday, February 14, 2014

People are Basically Good, Aren't They?

This is the mantra of American public religion. Yet, it actually reflects a humanist/secularist worldview. It is similar to surveys of drivers in which 90% consider themselves to be in the top 10% in driving skill.

Whether the speaker is a nominal Christian or a professing agnostic or atheist, he is applying an external moral system to himself. He's not a murderer, is he? Or a child molester? But by what standard does he determine that a murderer or child molester are worse than someone else? By the standard of biblical mores that have been absorbed into our culture since the days of the Pilgrims. This is called "precept stealing." In other words, in the process of denying biblical Christianity, he is acknowledging the truth of it. This is a real-world expression of what Paul talks about in Romans 1:18-21, especially verse 18, "men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." All men know the truth of the Lordship of God and their rebellion against Him. They merely pretend not to know, like the misbehaving child who sticks his fingers in his ears and declares, "La-la-la, I can't hear you."

Unfortunately for this hypothetical person, Scripture continues to be true, whether he listens, or not.

Sin is a violation of God's Law, whether it is doing something which He forbids, such as murder or theft, or it is failing to do something that He requires, such as loving Him with the whole heart, soul, and strength, or our neighbors as ourselves. And, while it true that some sins, such as murder, are worse than others, that doesn't give our speaker any wiggle room for self-comfort, because any violation, major or minor, makes us guilty of the whole Law. This is stated explicitly in James 2:10, "For whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." And every sin, whether major or minor, is an offense against the holiness of God, Habakkuk 1:13 (NASB), "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor." And the consequence of that is that we, every single one of us, is separated from God. Isaiah 59:2, "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear."

But the wonder of all this is that God did not leave the situation where we do. On His own initiative, He made a way for us to be reconciled with Him. Again, from Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned - every one - to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." God gave His own Son to assume the judgment that all of His people have earned, and we need but to receive it. Romans 10:9-10, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord  and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

Whether a person professes to be a Christian or is a professed nonbeliever, the steps are the same: he must understand the bad news of his sin and its consequences before he can claim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ!

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