Saturday, September 26, 2015

Where Did That Come From?

Jesus once asked some lawyers a simple question, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?”[1]

That is a good question.

The other day I was on my scooter at the drive up window of my bank. I was third in line. As I sat waiting, I thought, “I wonder if it’s weird for the car in front of me to see me on the scooter behind her? I am outside the normal confines of a car.” 

Then my thoughts changed directions.

“I wonder if she thinks I could just walk up to her passenger window and demand her money.”

My thoughts quickly flashed as to what that would look like, including popping back on the scooter and making my getaway. (I had been told once that a man held up that bank and escaped on a bicycle.)

Then I snapped back to reality. “What am I thinking about? This is crazy!” The motorist in front of me drove away.

The truth is, it was crazy.

But haven’t we all had thoughts like that before? I mean dark, off-the-wall thoughts? What is worse, haven’t we all done shameful or guilt-producing things?

I’ve heard it said, the one doctrine of Christianity that you cannot argue with is the doctrine of sin. We are all sinners with corrupt hearts. 

We have all experienced it. We’ve been on the receiving end and we’ve dished it out.

Although my thoughts that day were evil in nature, I did not sin. Had I dwelt on them, and eventually acted on them, it would have been sin. But just having the fleeting thought without premeditation, and then rejecting it, was not a sin.

The Bible says these evil thoughts come from our hearts.[2] My criminal thoughts originated in what theologians call my “sin nature.”

Spiritual philosopher Dallas Willard writes about the sin nature. “The condition of normal human life is one where the inner resources of the person are weakened or dead, and where the factors of human life do not interrelate as they were intended by their nature and function to do… The person is effectively turned away from his or her own good. The individual may and often does wish to be good and to do what is right, but he or she is prepared, is set, to do evil. It is what the individual is ready to do without thinking. In this condition, the mind is confused, ignorant, and misguided. The emotions are simultaneously dominant of personality and in conflict with one another. The body and the social environment are filled with regular patterns of wrongdoing and are constantly inclined toward doing what is wrong.”[3]

If Willard is right, we’re all out of whack. We’re crazy.

People can argue about who Jesus was and what he did. They can argue about teachings of the Bible. They can say this religion is better than that one. They can say there is no god.

But the one doctrine that cannot be argued against with intellectual integrity is the doctrine of sin. It’s our universal experience and is captured in phrases like, “Nobody is perfect,”I don’t know why I did that,” or “My bad.”

If it’s true that we’re imperfect and bad, then what else in the Bible might be true?

Maybe this statement: “…he shall save his people from their sins.”[4]

I submit to you that Jesus, and Jesus alone, can save us from the truth of our sin nature.

[1] Matthew 9:4 (Holman Christian Study Bible)
[2] Matthew 15:19 (HCSB)
[3] Dallas Willard, The Great Omission (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2006) 146-147
[4] Matthew 1:21 (HCSB)

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Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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