Saturday, December 09, 2006

Deep Down Everyone is Good... Right?

WRONG! Could we say anything anymore tragic and unbiblical than this statement - deep down everyone is good? If this were true then we would have no need for Jesus. If everyone is good then we don't need a Savior. If we have the ability to be holy as God is holy then we can work our way to that without Jesus. Some would object and say, no no no I didn't say that. I mean we are good, but not perfect so we need Jesus because we can try and do good, but we can't be completely perfect. So, we just need a little help from Jesus. This reminds me of the worst Christmas Eve service I ever attended. It happened in a Southern Baptist Church unfortunately. The Pastor told us that we were all like Christmas Trees. We were beautiful. But Jesus was the lights and when we put him on we are much brighter and more beautiful than we could ever be without him. Some readers may be thinking it's horrible to say without Jesus we are beautiful. Some readers may be thinking that was a good illustration of what Jesus does for us. If you are thinking that illustration was a good one then you have a serious flaw in your theology. You have a huge misunderstanding about man's sin and his condition before a holy God. You have a very small and sad view of saving grace. If he only saved you from being a little less beautiful than you are, that's some small mercy and grace and also makes his sacrifice unnecessary if that's all Jesus did. God came down from his thrown in Heaven and "made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8)." If you think he did all that just to make some people who are deep down good and decent a little better so that they could make it to Heaven then you can't afford to stop reading...

What does the bible have to say about man's condition before a Holy God. Ephesians 2:1-3 tell us that "you were DEAD in trespasses and sins 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 - 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."

That sounds pretty bad. First it says we were DEAD in our sins. Dead does not mean half alive. It doesn't mean we were in trouble and about to be dead in sin, but we reached out and Jesus came and grabbed our hand before we sank to the bottom. No, it means we were dead lying on the bottom of the pit and Jesus came down and gave us life. We had no hope. We were dead. Who ever brought themselves back from the dead? There's only one, Jesus. No man ever raised himself from the dead. But Jesus raised men from physical death as we see in the story of Lazarus. He had been dead for 4 days. He could not raise himself from the dead. Jesus went to him and called him from death to life. Jesus does the same thing to the spiritually dead. He calls them by his Holy Spirit from death to life. He gives them spiritual life. Then they come forth and follow him. So, we were dead. We are not able to be holy and alive spiritually unless Jesus himself calls us to life.

Next it says we were living in the FLESH carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. In the bible we always see a battle within the saved person between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh is our old sinful nature that wants to do everything to please ourselves. The spirit wants to do everything to please God. (Galatians 5:16-24) But the unsaved man does not have the spirit all he has is the flesh. He lives in the flesh. He makes choices all day long, but they are all sinful. He may do things that we call "good" but God's idea of good is holiness, doing good in order to glorify God. As John Piper states this, "outward conformity to the revealed will of God is not righteousness in relation to God. It is not done out of reliance on him or for his glory. He is not trusted for the resources, though he gives them all. Nor is his honor exalted, even though that's his will in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31). Therefore, even these "good" acts are part of our rebellion and are not "good" in the sense that really counts in the end - in relation to God." In Romans 7:18 Paul tells us that we know nothing good dwells in our flesh. NOTHING good dwells in the flesh. The unsaved man is in the flesh, therefore he has no good in him. Romans 8:7 tell us that "the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed it cannot." The unsaved man is in the flesh which means he is hostile to God and unable to submit to God. Romans 3:10-18 tells us that "none is righteous, no, not one: no one seeks God." It goes on to say that "no one does good, not even one." It continues to tell about man in his sinful state. We see here that not a single person seeks God or does good. We have established that what we think of as good is not good in the holy saving sense that God means. What about people who seem to seek God? We think people seek God. There are tons of false religions out there of people seeking a god. They are seeking something. They are seeking a god in their own image. They are seeking a higher power that suits them and pleases them. They do not seek the True God. God has told us in His word that no one seeks HIM. It says we cannot seek Him because we are DEAD in sin, we are pleasing our FLESH. Indeed we are slaves to sin. Romans 6:5-7 tells us that prior to salvation we were slaves to sin. When we were saved we were freed from being slaves to sin. We were given true freedom to choose between sin and holiness. A slave is not able to set himself free. He must be set free. If we were slaves to sin that means we were not free to please God and do what was holy. We were only able to sin. You think that unsaved people do things that aren't sinful. Once again if it is apart from God it is not good in terms of God. Romans 14:23 says, "whatever is not from faith is sin." If we are not saved then whatever we do is apart from faith in the TRUE GOD and therefore is sin. This is a pitiful state we are in. We are dead, slaves, unable to do good or to please God or to even seek God. What does the bible say about this pitiful state we are all in?

Back to Ephesians 2:1-3, it says that we by nature are children of WRATH. In our original sinful state prior to salvation we are children of wrath. This means we are under God's wrath. If we remain in this sinful condemned state when we die we will go spend an eternity under his wrath. An eternity to suffer the punishment for our sins.

It is extremely important to understand the seriousness of sin. We are completely affected by sin in our entire being. Everything we do even the "good" we do is tainted by sin. Until we understand the reality of our conditoin before a holy God we cannot understand the fullness of His grace and mercy in salvation! How can we appreciate and understand grace and mercy if we think we were good, but God made us better. We were ok, but not quite good enough for God. We needed a little help and a ticket to Heaven. NO! - We were DEAD, we were SLAVES, we were ENEMIES of God, we were children of WRATH. This must be first understood in order to truly fall down humbly before God and thank him for undeserved mercy and grace. We must first understand Ephesians 2:1-3 before we can rightly understand the wonderful, awesome, magnificint, amazing grace in the next verse when it says, "BUT GOD!" Once you understand the horrible sinful state of man ONLY then can you understand how amazing the words BUT GOD are. We were dead and doomed and hopeless and helpless, BUT GOD!

Ephesians 2:4-10:

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Now you can understand God's amazing grace! We didn't do a thing to save ourselves. We had nothing to offer. In fact we could not try to offer anything because we were dead. When we understand that then we see there is no reason for boasting. We cannot boast. We could not offer anything to our salvation. Even the faith we exercised was a gift from God. Salvation is the gift of God by His grace through His gift of faith.

If you are saved I hope you better understand what the Bible has to say about your salvation. What the Bible says you were saved from. What God's grace did for you. Your salvation was solely the work of God. He raised you from spiritual death to life. You were a slave to sin and he set you free. What are we to do with this freedom? We are to use it to do righteousness and glorify God. We are not to use our freedom to please our flesh. We now have a choice to please God or to sin. With this new freedom God tells us to choose righteousness. We are to crucify the flesh daily. Do not gratify the flesh. We are no longer slaves to sin and the flesh so do not return and act like your former self. You have been freed to do good, to please God, to bring God glory, so do it! (1 Peter 1:13-16, Romans 8:1, Galatians 5:13, Romans 6:5-7, Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:24, Galatians 5:1, Romans 6:22, etc.).

Romans 8:1 - "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me...
I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now, I see." ~ John Newton, Baptist Hymnal 1991

Great Reading and Listening on this subject:

Man's Need of Salvation: Total Depravity and Man's Inability by Brian Schwertley
Click Here

The Apparent "Good" in Natural Man by John W. Hendryx
Click Here

Human Depravity by R.C. Sproul
Click Here

An excellent article concerning the state of the current church in relation to this:
Click Here

What the Christian on the street had to say:
Click Here

And a sermon on the subject by my Pastor, Steve Cobb, Temple Baptist Church, New Bern, NC:
Click Here