In Romans 3 the Apostle Paul writes: As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10–12 ESV).
And our Lord Jesus tells us that “no one is good but God.”
(Mark 10:17–18 ESV) And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
Meet John and Edith (not their real names) …
John and Edith were good friends of my parents. They were two of the kindest, most caring, generous people I have ever known. And they were unsaved. John and Edith did not know Christ. And unless they believed in Christ late in life, they died not knowing God.
How do we explain the John’s and Edith’s of the world? By understanding the doctrine of the depravity of man. As we confront the great mystery of good and evil in every human on the planet, we need a biblical starting point from which to work. You are depraved. And so am I. And so is your dear, old, sweet grandma.
We were created in the image of God but sin has tarnished of that image. Sin corrupts everything. We are not always as bad as we could be, but we are never—apart from God—truly good in the eyes of God. But why?
(Romans 3:23 ESV) … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
They had sought moral autonomy, the power to decide what was right and wrong apart from God and his word. And all humanity has done this ever since. Henri Blocher writes: “The word implies the achievement of autonomy in a certain way. But only in a certain way, for the father of lies only ever speaks the truth by perverting it. In reality, the autonomy is illusory, a mere, pitiful aping of God.” Because God is sovereign, man’s supposed autonomy is an illusion. He cannot escape the lordship of God. “The crazy little god with his absurd pretensions is not God and never shall be. All he can do is die,” writes Blocher. [Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (pp. 95–96). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.]
Adam and Eve reached for divinity but instead found darkness because they sought to be like God against the command and will of God.
No wonder some call it the insanity of depravity.
“Yes, we want to be godlike” or some might say they want to be godly, except … except the godliness they pursue is in opposition to the written word of God.
But this is not a new scenario. This approach to wanting the things of God without bowing before God has its origins at the very beginning of human history.
Want to properly build a strong foundation for understanding sin and the gospel that God offers to deal with our sin? Then stick your nose in Genesis.
The judgment is yet to come but the divine verdict is in.
Light came into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light.
A battle began on Earth about 6,000 years ago in the Garden of Eden. Humans decided that they didn’t need to listen only to God for wisdom and knowledge.
Adam and Eve, under the council of a serpent, disobeyed God and pursued wisdom apart from God as they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And humankind has since followed suit. Every one of us. The pattern had been set.
We thought we would be wise, but instead became fools. Our intellect was crippled and our hearts darkened. Now many are “playing chicken” with God when it comes to their eternal destiny. Spoiler Alert—God won’t blink!
God says the way is narrow. In fact he tells us that there is only one way to be saved from his coming day of judgment. And that is to believe in his Son.
But the pretending continues … and the defiance … and the contention. Humans love darkness rather than light, not because that track is a superior intellectual approach, but because their deeds are evil. And most, it seems, even sometimes church folk, don’t want a holy God telling them any different.
We, as in the human race, stand guilty and condemned before a holy God … now. Not later. The hour of judgment is yet to come, but the divine verdict is in. Guilty as charged. And part of the terrifying nature of our state of being under God’s holy wrath now is that most humans are oblivious to their condition.
We are so glib with life and our thoughts of God and salvation and what we call “life after death.” “Well, I believe this.” And “I believe that.” And “I have a right to my opinion, and I think …”
Many are like an infant playing with her favorite toy in the middle of a busy sixteen-lane freeway, oblivious to the danger at hand.
You can pretend, believe what you want, live in a world fashioned by what you think is right and wrong, good and evil, but one day you will know the truth. Jesus the Son of God is coming again. Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess that he is Lord.
Dads, get this one right with your children. No game playing. No wishful thinking. There is a coming judgment, and there is only one way to avoid this judgment, and that is believing in Jesus Christ.
Many people live in a world of pretend and “hope” that one day things will work out. However, one day, there will be no more pretending as absolute reality will set in with each person that has been born onto this planet.
(John 5:25–29 ESV) Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
God did the only thing that a holy, righteous God could do. Sin had to be paid for. Wrath had to be taken by someone.
So he sent his Son to pay the price for our sins …
(John 3:16 ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10 NLT)
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed. (Ezekiel 34:16a ESV)
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way. (Isaiah 53:6a ESV)
Lost: Unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts; having gone astray or having missed the way; bewildered as to place or direction; ruined or destroyed physically or morally; not knowing where you are or how to get to where you want to go.