Monday, July 21, 2008

Depravity of Man - Up Close and Personal

If you do not believe in the total depravity of man - that man is inherently evil and born that way - I invite you to slow down and take a look around.

As evangelists who hit the streets and talk to people one on one, we are forced to slow down, take a thoughtful look at what is going on around us, and engage people in the truth of the Gospel. One of our favorite places to go is Paducah's Downtown After Dinner. If you want examples of depravity, you can find them here. Outside of the entertainment areas on Broadway, you can find large group of roaming kids, many dropped off and left unsupervised by their parents. Some are as young as twelve. In passing them by while walking around downtown, one can hear and see some pretty shocking things. We have seen many fights start, heard language that would make a hardened criminal blush, and seen clothing that was inappropriate both in it's content and lack of content. It boils down to depravity.

Just this past weekend two women around the age of twenty were brutally fighting on the sidewalk in front of the Quilt Museum. One had the other on the sidewalk and appeared to be trying to bash the girl's head into the concrete. The other had her teeth clenched down on the other girl. A group of people stood around just watching. Several people approached trying to break up the fight, but the crowd around them prevented them from doing so. Who was in the crowd? Both girls' parents. One woman said, "I ain't going to break it up, and you ain't either. The girl on the bottom is my daughter, and if she can't take it, she ain't worth it!" Depravity.

But even on Broadway, in the middle of the entertainment, is there depravity? Absolutely! Just ask yourself if all that takes place there is pleasing to God? Depravity is best understood when you see things from His perspective. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with entertainment, but you see people who live their lives without regard to God. They shun Him and go their own way. They care not for the one who gave them life and breath and sustains their very being every single day. They do not acknowledge Him. They are depraved.

If you are not yet convinced, I will give you one more example. Take a look at Myspace. Look at the profiles of people who live in your hometown. The Internet lets people feel more comfortable in expressing themselves in ways that they may not be able to in other public realms. And most of the time, it is not good. The language is fueled by cursings, sexuality, and everything a person puts out in the public eye that they use to communicate "this is who I am!" And, once again, take a look at it from God's perspective. Look at these things and ask, "Is this pleasing to God?"

So what about your own heart? Are you depraved in God's eyes? How do you match up to God's standard of what is acceptable or unacceptable to Him? You see, God demands perfection! You can ask yourself a few questions to see how you stack up. How many lies have you told in your life? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever looked at someone with lustful thoughts? Jesus said if you even look with lust, you have committed adultery already in your heart. Have you ever hated anyone? Hate in the heart is the same as murder to God. As you can see by facing just a few of the Ten Commandments, we fall woefully short. And these things are only a reflection of God's righteousness! Paul told us in Romans that we are ALL wicked in God's eyes. Read this passage from Romans and apply it to yourself. I have put it in first person to help: “ There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. I have turned aside; I have become unprofitable; I do no good. My throat is an open tomb; With my tongue I have practiced deceit. The poison of asps is under my lips. My mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. My feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in my ways; And the way of peace they I have not known. There is no fear of God before my eyes.” Now you may say, no, I have done some good! But remember, we have to see things from God's point of view. What may seem good to us is as nothing compared to the righteousness of God. Our best works are no better than excrement.

Paul says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So what are we to do? Without perfection, we do not enter in to the presence of God, and are destined to eternal destruction where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Yet in this, there is good news. Because while we were still sinners, Christ came to die for us. Christ is the expression of one who did not fall short of the glory of God. He is the glory of God! Christ lived a perfect life. Christ had not the depraved nature of you and I. And, when he hung on the cross, he took the wrath of God that you and I deserved. God poured out his anger against sin onto His only begotten son so that you and I could walk free. Our sin incurred a debt against God that we could never repay. That is why hell is eternal. But Christ stepped in and paid that debt once and for all. And he calls us to repent (turn away from our sin) and put our trust, our lives, and our all in His hands. Then, He says he takes out the heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh. We begin to hate the sin we once loved and love the God we once hated. Without pure righteousness, we cannot enter into the presence of God and will enter into eternal punishment. But when we cry out to Him, he stoops down, picks us up, and gives us His righteousness.

Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

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