The Lord has reminded me several times over the past few weeks that this world is not my home…that I hope for a better country (Hebrews 11:16). And after some of the things I have seen and heard about lately, I am so glad of this truth. The world we live in is a very sad and dark place – a hopeless place if not for Christ.
I have learned about the children who are sexually abused in Central Asia. I saw people desperately trying to make themselves right with God and I met women who were selling their bodies for money (whether enslaved or not, I do not know for sure). I learned of two women (here in the States) who were sold into sex slavery – one of whom was severely beaten. These stories make me sick to my stomach and weigh heavily upon my heart. If I am burdened by such sin, how much more the heart of God? I believe that the God I serve is in control of all situations. Nothing slips by Him. The Bibles says that Jesus Christ upholds both the good and the evil by His Word (Hebrews 1:3). He is a God of redemption and can bring beauty from the worst of ashes. But when I hear stories like these, I have trouble believing that God can redeem these situations for good. What good could possibly come of such tragic circumstances? Yet I know that God’s ways are higher than mine and that He can and will use these situations for His (always) good purposes.
Such sin grieves my heart…and then I remember: I am not too far removed from such acts of wickedness. It lurks within my own heart. I am fully capable of horrific acts, but Christ makes me different. His grace has made me to differ. He is continually changing and refining me. But sin is still there. It may not manifest itself in such outwardly horrific acts as the above, but it’s there just the same. The sad thing is that this sin in my heart does not make me grieve the same way that these horrifically sinful acts do. Piper is right in saying……the reason such horrors exist in the physical realm and the moral realm is to display the outrage of sin. The outrage of sin against the holy God…every time we see something horrific, some horrible accident, our thoughts should be about the outrage of sin, not the injustice of God…instead of calling God into question, we should see them as evidences in our lives of the outrage of sin and the horrific evil and repugnance of sin to a holy God. And God is displaying to us the outrage of sin in the only way that we can see it, because we don’t get upset about our own sinning…And now, stand and wonder at the value of the Son of God, that His suffering could match all of those universe-crushing sins for which He died. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, p. 232-233
So the Lord was in effect saying to me, “This world is grossly sinful…and, by the way, so are you. These are the areas of sin we need to work on…” And so the refining continues. He worked on my sin of self-sufficiency until He broke me during first 8 months of this year (not that I don’t still struggle with this) and now He has begun to deal with me regarding my sin of people-pleasing. Both of which are rooted in pride. Sigh.
Consider [Jesus] who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood. It is for discipline that you have to endure, God is treating you as sons [and daughters]. Hebrews 12:3-4, 7a
The depravity of man that the Lord has showed me was followed by explanations from the Bible this past Sunday. Jesus is the best teacher. As I studied Noah with one of my Sunday School students, we read this verse:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 – Not a very good picture of us…but an accurate one. This is why we need Christ.
The sermon that morning was about the injustice of the world and the justice of God. Very fitting. Here is another picture of us in our Christless state: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks after God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are shift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:11-12, 14-16, 18
My pastor said that apart from God, we are these people. And it’s true. This is the answer to my question of how people could commit such heinous acts against others – there is not fear of God before their eyes. This is why we need Christ.
In my personal time in the Word later that afternoon, it was more of the same thing. God says that our feet “run to evil and we are swift to shed innocent blood; our thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in our highways” (Isaiah 59:7). And what can we do? We are clearly guilty. Not one of us is without fault. “For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and are sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing and denying the Lord and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words” (Isaiah 59:12-13; cf. Psalm 51:3-4). BUT there is hope! Our sin is so radical that only God can provide the remedy…and He did!
The Lord saw it and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought Him salvation and His righteousness upheld Him.Isaiah 59:15b-16
You see, in God is perfect justice and He accomplished our salvation. “All the injustice in the world was swallowed up in Christ” (Pastor Andy). Jesus Christ became our justice (Romans 3:25-26) and He accomplished our salvation by taking upon Himself all of God’s anger toward us because of our outrageous sin.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:8, 10-12
This is very good news. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
All for Jesus,
Outreach Team SH