Last night we probably had one of the most dangerous nights I have experienced. As a kid growing up in northern Minnesota, we often had -40 degrees real temperature. While this is extremely cold, there was never any wind. Last night, in central Minnesota, it got town to -32 but the wind was howling. At 10:00pm, it was -30 with a sustained wind of 19 mph. That gives a wind chill of -67 degrees. It’s supposed to be cold all day but warm up tomorrow. Rough.
How did you settle out on the doctrine of hell? Tough stuff, isn’t it? One thing we forget in this is that all the sin we commit is ultimately against a God who desires to embrace us, love us, and care for us yet we reject him over and over and over again. It’s not like we sin one time and God jerks the welcome mat of heaven away from us. Oh, no, that’s not it at all. All our lives, we are bombarded with signs and wonders to repent and honor God. Our lives are flooded with calls for us to turn from our wicked ways and repent. Yet, we don’t.
A good case can be made that our hearts become so hardened and corrupt that we no longer desire to hear the gospel. We become totally depraved. This means we have given ourselves over fully to our sinful behavior that we cannot respond to the gospel. We become hopeless. Now, that’s not to say we can’t get worse. Not all of us are like Adolf Hitler. On the other hand, none, except a few, have had total freedom to do as we please. Without restraint, who knows what each of us is capable of. Don’t believe me? People commit adultery because they think they won’t get caught. Those of us who refrain do so because we fear the repercussions lest we indeed do get caught. True, some of us just wouldn’t want to live with ourselves if we commit adultery – never mind what others think. But where do you suppose that inner voice comes from? Where do you suppose society’s sense of right or wrong comes from? Indeed, we are witnessing a rapid erosion of this cultural taboo, but adultery is still devastating even though people no longer get stoned for it.
Here’s the thing. We have no true appreciation of the magnitude and extent of our sin. We have no idea how it hurts us. We have no idea how it hurts those close to us. We have no idea how the shock waves roar through ever extending circles of influence and generations in family trees. I think God is merciful in that he doesn’t unload the realization of all this at once. However, we would be wise to let God examine ourselves.
Let me do just that. My prevailing sin is gluttony. It manifested itself primarily with alcohol. From a young age, I enjoyed overindulging. I looked forward to drinking. Sure, this greatly disappointed my mother, but I didn’t let that bother me enough to change my behavior. It wasn’t long before my desire steered me away from clean-living friends and family. I associated myself with like-minded people who liked to party, yell, sign, dance, and brawl. I sought out women who had loose standards. Alcohol worked wonders to lower inhibitions and remove clothing. I often drove a vehicle while intoxicated, putting everyone’s life at risk. While I worked hard and performed well (compared to others) I operated far under my potential simply because I was hung over so much of the time. My family suffered greatly, not because I was abusive, but because I preferred to drink. I could have done so many things with my daughters that I didn’t – simply because booze was more important. Finally, booze almost took my own life.
Do you see what I’m talking about? Oh, but it doesn’t end there. God eventually (thankfully) removed the taste of booze from my life when he saved me. However, I still suffer from gluttony in the food I abuse. This doesn’t seem to be such a bad sin, right? I mean it isn’t nearly as bad as booze. Well, it’s all a matter of degrees. Being overweight significantly reduces my lifestyle. Had I been in good shape, I might have been outside much more with my children teaching them to appreciate and participate in sports and physical exercise. Instead, none of them get out and move around for enjoyment. Had I been a better example, perhaps they would have. Being overweight significantly impacts my ability to function indoors, too. Let’s face it, if I was in shape, crawling around on the floor with a baby or chasing a toddler on hands and knees would be extremely enjoyable. As it is, that floor time is limited. I’m robbing my grandchildren to come! There’s also the matter of health. Although God has already counted my days, my life could statistically be much longer if I took better care of myself. As it is, I’m being a good example and teaching my family how to significantly reduce the quality of my life while I continue to abuse myself and complain about it the whole while.
What else? I have a tendency to use very coarse language, especially when I get angry. Anybody see any problems with that? Pride seems to also rear its ugly head from time to time. Oh, did I mention lust?
The thing with all this is that my sin is intentional. INTENTIONAL. It sickens me to go through this exercise – and I have only scratched the surface! Just imagine how my sin echoes through the halls of time! Does that mean that I am as bad as I COULD be? Heck no! I have limits. But I tell you what, when I relax these, I slide deeper and deeper – fast!
Here’s the kicker. In this state, nothing we do is good in the eyes of God. Nothing.
Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
Filthy rags, as other versions have it. That’s our condition. Our WILLFUL condition. Is it any wonder that there is a hell? Let’s not forget that God wiped out everything with the flood. Why? Because “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11) It’s no different today. I’m no different today than those who were locked out of the ark. Neither are you.
Do you still think there is inherent good in you? Do you think you can cleanse those filthy rags on our own, by your own will and you own good deeds. Good luck with that. Tell me how it goes the rest of the week. Let me know how you successfully resist temptation and conquer sin on your own. Don’t ask for any help from God because if you do you only reinforce that it takes divine intervention – apart from you. No, you’re on your own on this. You know God’s standard; now, live it out. And, then start repairing all the damage you have done – not just to yourself but to all those whom you have harmed in the never-ending ripples of your sin.
Seriously. Do it and let me know how it goes.
Father, show us our depravity so that we may see your glory.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers