Monday, December 20, 2021

Anonymous Asks (176)

“What specific verse/passage about human nature resonates the most with your observations?”

That’s a tough one to pin down. Whichever passage I choose today, I’m almost guaranteed to find an even better one tomorrow.

Would you settle for a top five?

1/ Matthew 15:19

Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

As a teenager, I began to realize human beings can do almost anything, no matter how wicked, provided they do it incrementally. What we allow ourselves to think about at length and in detail inevitably shapes who we are and how we live. Expose me to something vile, and provided I recoil from it as if from a hot stove, I will be fine. But let me take it into my head, indulge it, roll it around and contemplate it, then willingly expose myself to more of it, and I am going down a road that will lead me places I cannot even imagine today.

Guard your heart. There are things you can’t unsee and things you can’t unthink, especially if you keep exposing yourself to them.

2/ James 4:1

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”

Point me to a dispute between two believers, and desire is invariably at the root of it somewhere. The word “passions” in Greek is hēdonē, and really means the desire for pleasure of one sort or another. But pleasures don’t have to be the usual visible self-indulgences. They can actually be very personal and extremely petty.

For example, if I have been gossiping about you, it’s because of that sense of superiority it gives me to rehearse your failings, or maybe that sense of importance it gives me to be the person with the inside dope. It’s my flesh screaming “Look at me! Look at me!” Again, if I can’t let you have the last word in an argument, it’s because I need to win in order to feel good about myself. Believe me, it’s not your spiritual welfare I’m concerned about — it’s my own ego.

3/ Romans 2:14-15

“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.”

I am constantly running into people who behave themselves admirably even though their worldview cannot possibly justify their actions. If everyone who believes in evolution acted consistently with his view of origins, meaning and endings, the world would be a thousand times worse than it is. But human beings are remarkably inconsistent creatures, thank the Lord, which means I don’t have to live my life looking over my shoulder for the guy for whom “survival of the fittest” is the equivalent of the Ten Commandments.

Now, that doesn’t mean unbelievers behave well all the time, of course. It just means the inexplicably good things they do are not that inexplicable after all. Scripture accounts for them.

4/ 1 Corinthians 2:14

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

The rulers of this age crucified the Lord of glory because it made sense to them. As Caiaphas put it, “It is better for you that one man should die for the people.” His words were unknowingly prophetic; Caiaphas was simply being pragmatic. His observation was entirely logical. If the people declared Jesus king of Israel, then the Romans would promptly crush what they would perceive as a rebellion. God too intended that one man should die for the nation, but his reasons were not at all according to human logic. He was going to do something through the murder of his Son that Caiaphas could never in a million years have imagined.

But that is how the Spirit of God works. Every time we find ourselves trying to share something we find spiritually delightful with an unbeliever and end up getting that infamous blank look in return, we are proving again the truth of Paul’s observation.

Pearls. Swine. Don’t.

5/ Ecclesiastes 3:11

“[God] has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

Stephen Fry writes, “When we do die, we will live on in the work we have done and in the memories of the other people whose lives we have been part of.” What a forlorn attempt to milk a sad dribble of consolation from the horror of universal entropy! But why does living on in any way, shape or form matter to an evolutionist? It matters because he has eternity in his heart. He just doesn’t know it. Even his pitiful teaspoon of transcendence is something to be valued, and on some level he feels the need for it.

Two of my friends were drinking years ago: one saved, one unsaved. Six or seven shots in, the unbeliever began to weep uncontrollably. He blurted out, “I know one day God will be my judge.” The thought terrified him. His background is entirely secular, his knowledge of the Bible virtually non-existent. But he has eternity in his heart.

It is true that man cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end, but it also doesn’t matter. At some level, we all know enough to know we need a Savior.

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