Sinfully Unconscious

At the very root of the modern liberal movement is the loss of the consciousness
of sin.” – J. Gresham Machen

I was listening to a sermon by Mark Driscoll and he was talking about one thing he struggled with before he became a Christian was that he really didn’t think he was that bad. Compared to everyone else, his life wasn’t that awful. He didn’t grasp or understand the depth of his wickedness. After hearing that segment and reading Machen’s chapter on God and Man (from Christianity & Liberalism), I realized that the first great obstacle to accepting Christ is pride, manifested in the belief that man is inherently good. Man is naturally unconscious to his sin. His every day life goes on, yet he is oblivious to the grievous sins mounting up against him. That unconsciousness leads to a great ignorance. Romans 10:3 states:
For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

Man thinks he is righteous. He seeks to establish his own standard of righteousness and earn it. Man is so convinced of his inherent goodness that he rejects the only means by which he can be truly righteous; faith in Jesus, the Messiah. That is our world in a nutshell. Everyone thinks they are good people. If they are good, they have no need which cannot be fulfilled within themselves. Man is self-sufficient. God is irrelevant. Having a broken view of man leads to all sorts of intellectual leaps. Since it is believed that man is inherently good, man cannot sin. He is only acting out his nature and his nature is good; especially, since there is no objective truth. If there is no sin, then there is no need of a savior to redeem us from our sin. Machen spells out the logical result. He states:

Without the consciousness of sin, the whole of the gospel will seem to be an
idle tale. 

 

Why would man need Jesus if sin is not an issue? He has no need of Him. In the mind of man, religion is nothing more than a crutch for the perceived weak.

I think Jesus was keenly aware of this mindset. In Matthew 9:11-13, an interesting scene takes place.

11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why
does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when
[Jesus] heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but
those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means,’I desire mercy, and
not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Did you catch that? Jesus came for the sick and dying. Those tax collectors and sinners knew they were such. They were social outcasts. There lives were not secrets. They understood their need. That is who Jesus came to save. The Pharisees had no need for Jesus. They were “Abraham’s children.” They had a righteousness all their own, not realizing it was nothing more than menstrual rags. In order for the gospel to have any hope of taking root in a person’s life, that person must grasp, at least in part, the depth of their own wickedness. Machen goes on to say that first step in becoming a Christian is becoming aware of one’s own sin. Without that awareness, we have no need of Jesus.

So what are the implications of this truth? First, I think the church has to be careful about being “seeker sensitive.” Too many churches are afraid to reveal to people their sinfulness. They talk in meaningless platitudes and do not preach in a way that convicts of sin. Machen writes:

 

The fundamental fault of the modern Church is that she is busily engaged in an
impossible task – she is busily engaged in calling the righteous to repentance. 

He goes on to say:

 

Even our Lord did not call the righteous to repentance and probably we
shall be no more successful than He. 

I love that! We waste our time telling people they are good. Perhaps we’d see far greater number come to faith in Jesus if we preached in a way that made them understand their need of it.

Second, I believe we ought to daily wrestle with our sinful nature. We should remind ourselves that we have a need. It is only by the daily allowance of God’s grace do we make it. We have a sin sickness and we need the Great Physician each and every day. Only then can we truly maintain the righteousness bestowed upon us. We get it daily from Jesus.

Finally, I think this should alter the way we approach sharing the gospel. I don’t think this means picking up the bullhorn and heading downtown. I think it means greater patience with our unbelieving friends as we spend time sharing Jesus with them. They will initially reject Him. They think they’re fine just the way they are. It is at this point I suggest praying like a Calvinist…that God in His great mercy might grant your friend a consciousness of their sin and thus turn to the only one who can solve their problem…Jesus. Only God the Holy Spirit can bring that awaking in a person’s life and it is our duty to pray for the light to switch on.

~sdg

Fruit and Salvation

There are seven guys in my life group. So we decided that each guy would have a day to share a devotion with the rest of the group. The following is my devotional. I hope that God might use it powerfully in your life.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. – Matthew 3:7-10

 

This passage was in my daily reading last week and I had planned to use it today for my devotional. I thought it was interesting that Johnny chose to talk about the well-watered tree from Psalm 1. Verse 3 of Psalm 1 says that the tree yields its fruit in season. Here we find a warning from John the Baptist to the “trees” of Jesus day regarding the fruit that they are yielding. 

As I read this I thought back to our conversation last Wednesday when we talked about how good fruit is something that comes out naturally. Good trees produce good fruit. Bad trees produce bad fruit. To remind ourselves what I mean by fruit, let’s look at Galatians 5:22-24:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 

So that leaves me with a question. How do fallen, depraved and sinful people produce good fruit? We know that our human nature is bad, it is for sin, according to Galatians 5:17.

17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

 

Ephesians 2 is more explicit:

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

 

So how do bad trees produce good fruit? They become good trees.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17


and

3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into hismother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of theSpirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:3-8

 

There is a fundamental change. The word Paul uses is Metmorphoo. Which is where we get the English word metamorphosis. We go from ground crawling worms to winged butterfly. We are completely changed.

I believe there are many implications behind this. The first being that the modern western church is in trouble. Many who attend it’s services on the weekend are not saved. They are churched, not changed (if I can quote Jon Weece). And church (used in its generic Sunday morning service sense) will not save you. If anything, it will make you a mean spirited, closed-minded fool who drags the name of Christ through the mud.

I think the second implication is that we need to watch ourselves very closely. If we do not see the fruit listed above in Galatians, we need to ask ourselves some serious, sobering questions. Daily, we should be examining ourselves, looking for fruit. Remember, the axe is laid to the root of the trees not bearing good fruit…fruit in accordance with repentance. Jesus’ words in Luke ring loud and clear:

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 21:34-36

 

Praying that I stand with you all on the last day,

~sdg