Today I read a news report that totally sickened and disgusted me. Having said that, it’s not an unusual circumstance these days! However, the report affected me so badly that I cried out to the Lord, “what sort of person DOES that??”
I’m not going to spell out in detail what this twisted individual did, because it’s not appropriate, apart from giving an illustration of what I mean.
Just take it from me, this person is the worst of the worst – selfish, psychotic, murderous, depraved, cruel – and if you really want to know the details you can look them up for yourself here. (However, the point of this blog post is not the actions of this person, as you will see as you read on.)
We Are All The Same
So, after reading the shocking, inhumane details of this case, I said to the Lord, “What sort of person DOES this?”.
And he replied, “The same sort of person as every other person.” That really made me think.
This is what I learnt: the reality of fallen humanity is that every human being is capable of evil. There are only degrees and different expressions of it, but it’s all the same evil, and every one of us possesses the capability of acting wickedly.
Some people give full rein to their fallen human nature; some people hold back through their upbringing, education, conscience or fear of offending people. However, no matter if it’s held back or fully expressed, human nature in the raw is exactly the same for everyone born on this planet.
THAT is why the remedy of salvation is so needed, and is universal (not tailored to individuals according to their behaviour.)
Some non-christians counter the argument that they need to be saved by claiming “I’m not as bad as other people, I’m a good person”. But on this earth there ARE no degrees of goodness, and there ARE no degrees of badness as far as redemption is concerned (although I won’t say there are no degrees of judgement. That is a different subject.)
If you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. Luke 6:33
The bible makes no bones about the state of human nature and the flesh:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? [Jeremiah 17:9]
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. [Mark 7:21-23]
Human Nature is Fallen
The most basic fault of humanity – that means all of us born into the world – is that our human nature leans away from God and towards self. That is apparent from early days and simply increases (as opportunities for selfish behaviour increase) from childhood onwards.
Circumstances dictate just how much a person can get away with, and some have a keener conscience than others, but at base the problem is the same for all of us: the flesh demands its own way, regardless of others. Also, regardless of God!
Thus, if the base problem is the same, then the answer is the same – quench human nature (let it ‘die’ with Jesus Christ) and let the holiness and ability of God to DESIRE goodness reign instead. This comes by a willing choice, never automatically.
We not only have to place God (by the Holy Spirit) at the head, and in lordship over our lives day by day, but we have to actively deny the flesh as well. This is what the bible means by carrying the cross daily. We not only receive the power of the Lord, but make a commitment to submit to his ways in our daily lives.
“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16.
It’s really one or the other. Inasmuch as you are acting wilfully in the flesh, you are failing God, and to the extent you are being led by the Spirit, you are walking with God. The world and the flesh demand that we submit, but we must not be conformed, but transformed:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”. [Romans 12:2]
How To Please God
We know from the scriptures that not only good deeds, but the desire to do God’s will, come direct from God, because we don’t have that in the flesh. “for it is God who works in you to WILL and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” [Philippians 2:13]
Once we stray away from God’s rulership and guidance, we have no alternative but to fall back into the self, the flesh, the human ‘heart’ which always leads us down the wrong path.
No matter how much the flesh is prettied up, it will always remain opposed to God’s will. We just do not ‘naturally’ obey God – and even the best people often have selfish motives. Even the best of human nature is “as filthy rags” in God’s eyes.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” [Is 64:6]
If we cannot do better, what then is the answer?
In ourselves, there is NOTHING we can do! We need to fully grasp that, in order to see the truth of God’s provision in Jesus Christ. There is nothing we can do to win favour with God, earn salvation, become acceptable, change ourselves into good people that can enter heaven! Why? Because the problem isn’t what we DO, it’s what we ARE.
Put it this way. Your dog was born as a dog, so it acts like a dog. Maybe your dog becomes envious of the cat’s comforts and privileges, and wants to be a cat instead. Tough luck! The only way that could happen is if the dog dies, and is born again as a cat.
The ONLY way to become a child of God is if our human nature dies (in Christ) and rises again (in Christ), in effect (as Jesus explained to Nicodemus) to be BORN AGAIN as a son of God, not a son of man.
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” [John 3:5]
Being Born Again is Essential
So a child of mankind (that’s all of us descended from Adam from whom we unfortunately inherited this nature) can only be changed into a child of God [like the example of your dog] by dying and being born again as a spiritual Kingdom Person instead.
To go back to the beginning of my post then, we can be shocked at the depths to which some people sink, but in fact that should only be a reminder how low we ourselves can go.
When the Lord showed me this morning that the most psychotic killer has exactly the same problem in the human heart as I do, it sobered me up and made me think again of the enormity of the problem, and the magnificence of the solution:
Jesus the perfect Son of God had to be born as a human being (albeit without the fallen nature of Adam, because he was born of the Holy Spirit, not man) and after demonstrating a life of perfect obedience to the will of his father, he took upon himself the sin (as well as the sins) of mankind and took them down to the grave, releasing us from their grip. In rising again he brought the new life of the Holy Spirit’s rule and made it available to us all.
We are all in the same boat, as human beings, but some of us elect to receive the provision Jesus made, to die to that nature and rise up in NEW LIFE, where our sins are redeemed and we can then live in a way that is pleasing to God.
NOTE: SINS are the things we do, as a result of SIN, which is what we are by nature. Jesus dealt with SINS by the washing of the blood, and SIN by burying it in the grave.
SINS need to be covered by the blood, but SIN has to be put to death. This is one more reason why there were two elements at the Last Supper – the cup of wine which is the blood of the New Covenant, and the bread of his body, which is sacrificed for us. We do need to partake of both, to be fully redeemed.