Monday, October 20, 2014

Negative Until Positive

My niece, despite being less than a year old at the time, knew good and well that she must not touch my potted ivy plant on the low shelf. My sister and I watched her crawl toward it with unmistakable determination. Half-way across the room, she paused and looked over her shoulder at my sister with a defiant expression that reduced us to laughter. The little minx knew she was about to break a rule!

People try to deny the existence of a sin nature in each human being, but that funny incident with my  niece convinced me that we sin instinctively. John Calvin called it  "total depravity." As much as we want to believe in man's basic goodness, Scripture indicts every single one of us as incorrigible rebels against God. Consider, for example, Paul's unflattering description of humanity in his letter to the Romans:
10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ~~Romans 3:10-18 (ESV)
Not a pretty picture!

We need, however, to accept this picture of ourselves in order to understand why Christ, the Incarnate God, died for us. The Gospel makes no sense apart from the doctrine of man's sinful condition. In order to understand the concept that Jesus Christ died to save us from sin,  we must first face up to the ugly truth about ourselves. The Good News follows the bad news that we need salvation.

Being arrogant sinners, we quite naturally balk at this doctrine. The idea that God considers us to be sinners insults our sense of dignity, causing us to reject the Gospel...or at least amend it in ways that put us in a better light.

I know I tend to emphasize mankind's sinfulness in my writings, and I also know some people dislike my blog for that reason. But unless people see the negative truth about the human condition, they cannot fully appreciate the positive message of the Gospel. Indeed, the recognition of how sinful we are in comparison to His purity stirs believers to adore Him all the more for His incredible grace in dying for our sin! So as I write these next few posts, trust that this unpleasant doctrine merely prepares us for the joyous message of the Gospel.

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