Not The Way It’s Supposed To Be. 06-30-22
My title is taken from the title of a book by Cornelius Plantinga.Plantinga says that in our world there is a sense of the way things should be,and the reality of the way things are. The sense and the reality don’t line up.Our world and by rote,we as human occupiers,are “not the way it’s supposed to be.”
In a commentary on the 23rd Psalm, Joseph Sittler remarked that though we walk through the valley of death but one time,we spend our whole lives in the valley of the shadow of death.As we grow older that shadow becomes longer and more pronounced doesn’t it? There is a reason that things are not the way they are supposed to be. It is the same reason that our lifelong journey through the valley of death ends in death itself. Sin. Plain and simple. This isn’t the way it is supposed to be. God Almighty did not create the world or us to be like it is and we are. The reason? Sin. Let’s look more closely at the enigma of sin.
“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Moses is on the mountain with the Lord in this passage,receiving the Ten Commandments for the second time.He broke the “originals” in anger over Israel’s sin. Now,he is before the Lord,and has made a request of God.Moses has asked God to show him His glory. You know the story,God hides Moses in the cleft of a rock and passes by,showing Moses His “hinder parts.” In verse 19 of chapter 33,God tells Moses that He will “proclaim His name before him. That proclamation is in the above verse.In that proclamation God tells of some of His attributes,but then He describes in three words what plagues humanity. These three words are a thread than runs through the whole story of the Bible.
“…..forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin….” These are three descriptions of the enigmatic problem that faces humanity.From a single act of rebellion,”…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” From this one seemingly insignificant action,death entered the picture and spread over all of humanity. Not only humanity,but over all the earth,polluting all of creation. The pervasiveness of sin is a doctrine that we all must come to grips with. You,me,and everyone in between has been tainted,no that is too calm a word,all humanity has been corrupted. Some of the theologians call it total depravity. We have been made “unsound.” The earth itself has been corrupted.Look at this.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it,in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
There is a concept that I want to share with you before we move on. In their break with the Catholic Church way back in the 1500’s(?) the Protestant Reformers developed a doctrine called Forensic Justification. Now there are libraries built around this doctrine,way above my pay grade. But,for our purposes it is rather simple,and enormously profound.We must grasp this concept if we are to understand the nature of our relationship with a Holy God. This is important for a couple of reasons. Only one of those reasons matter here. If we don’t understand this concept, our Gospel message to a lost sinner might become skewed and imprecise. It might even discourage a lost sinner to give up on God.More on that later.
This forensic justification is a legal concept. We,you and I,before we were “saved” stood in a courtroom with a Holy God. There was no jury like we have today. Just a Holy God determining our guilt or innocence. Understand this. In this courtroom there is no forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a legal issue. Even today,in American jurisprudence there is no concept of forgiveness. The closest thing we have is a pardon. But,a pardon does not remove guilt.Judges in their legal capacity do NOT forgive. Judges determine guilt or innocence,that is all they do.With that being said,during this study keep this always in the back of your mind as we talk about sin.You,we are in a courtroom before a righteous and holy God,not an imperfect human judge.Our innocence or guilt will be determined according to one and only one standard.What will that be Ronnie?
Plain and simple. Have you,me,we ever committed a single act of iniquity,transgression,or sin? Keep this courtroom setting in mind. A single act of either of those three concepts,seals our fate eternally.It is the contention of this study,that once we see the Mount Everest of evidence stacked against us,it will be impossible to believe that repentance from sin or ANY human work can save us from a guilty declaration.What is it that you,me,or anyone else can offer God,that would cause us to be declared innocent?What is it that we could offer God that would make the slightest contribution to our innocence? I contend the answer to that question is a resounding NOTHING! If,then,we can offer nothing for our justification,how could we demand from anyone that they offer something?As has been aptly stated”when we put other people on a tight moral budget while making allowances for ourselves-when we as human beings do these things,we exhibit a corruption of
Now,one more concept must be explained here. We are talking about justification here. What we are not talking about here is sanctification or living the Christian life. This isn’t in any way describing how we “walk the walk” once we have been saved. It is very important we don’t mix the two concepts together. (which by the way is done all the time)
I am getting way ahead of myself. Take a breath Ronnie.
This study will hopefully show how pervasive sin actually is and how helpless we are in combatting it as an unbeliever,then as a believer,without a DELIVERER.A deliverer that requires only one condition from lost humanity. That we believe. Folks,after we review the evidence,(sin)that stands against us,I believe we will be convinced that believing the Gospel message is all that we CAN do.Once we see this,we can offer a lost sinner the truly Good News,the Gospel. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,you and your household.”
We will begin to look at the nature of iniquity,transgression,and sin in the next post.
All we must do is believe.