(7/12) A Popular British Newspaper asked this question early in the 20th century, and asked writers to respond. "What is wrong with this world?" G.K. Chesterton, a famous Christian author responded with this, "Dear Sirs; I am. Respectfully Yours, G.K. Chesterton." Whatís wrong with this world? We are!
Last weekís Life Lesson was about Godís deep desire for people to understand and know Him. That is, to have insight into Godís character and imitate Him and to know Him personally, intuitively and experientially. He wants you to imitate His Loving Kindness, mercy and grace. He wants you to live Holy lives, knowing that everyone Christian and
non-Christian, will receive rewards or punishment that are just. And He wants you to do what is right, not what is necessarily lawful or coerced by law, but what is right with a bent towards grace. One of the key verses for God-followers in the whole Bible is Micah 6:8, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
How do you get to know someone? Spend time with them. Talk to them. Listen to them. Watch them. This is exactly what our God wants you to do with Him. Much of that will be when you read and meditate in this book. Write down in a journal or notebook what you discover about God and pray it back to Him. Ask Him what you can do to be more like that.
One of the by-products of getting to Know God is that you also will get to know yourself a little better. One of the things you will discover is that you are not the person you thought you were. Getting to know God will draw out your dark side. And here is a secret. Everyone, with no exceptions, has a dark side. Over 100 years ago, the great American
Philosopher, Mark Twain, said, "Everybody is a moon and has a dark side, which he never shows to anybody." Every human being on the planet in one way or another could be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We donít need a potion to reveal what a life of unrestrained desires or actions would be like. We have imagined it in one way or another.
In Theology, this is known as the doctrine of Total Depravity (Complete decadence, wickedness, corruption, evil, or degeneracy). In our study of My God, WhyÖ, you must understand that the root of all evil lies in the heart of every man. Jeremiah said (17:9), "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" Mankind,
every human, is totally depraved. He is corrupt in every part of his or her being. Another way of saying it is that every human being is totally unable to live without doing evil in one way or another. That includes being totally unable to have a true knowledge of God apart from Godís act of grace.
Every human being is born with a nature that is selfish and self-centered. The only exception to that in the history of the world is the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Many want to believe that we are born clean and innocent and are products of our environment. Itís the poverty we were born into. Itís the class of society we were born into.
Or we make excuses. My dysfunctional parents are why I am a sinner. Too much trans fats. My parents were addicts. My lack of education is why I am this way. I am addicted to sugar. Too much sex and violence on TV or Play Station.
So letís go back to the beginning. Look at Genesis 1:31a, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good."
Not trying to be dumb, but name some things that are included in "everything?" What is Godís assessment of everything that He had made? It was very good! It was excellent! So, where did all the evil come from? How did we become depraved? Pandoraís box?
You know the story. Eve opened the box of evil and Adam joined her. You know that the story actually has a part that was not written down in scripture for a few thousand years. One of the angels known as the light bearer or Lucifer, one of the very good creations of God, decided that he would not be second to God; instead, he desired to be as or
greater than God, and convinced one third of the angels in heaven to follow him. He was caught and evicted. As an act of rebellion or revenge, he made it his mission to destroy Godís prized creation Ė man. You know the rest of the story. And, all the evil of the world was unleashed and could never be put back into the box, (Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28).
The results were that pain was increased in child bearing. Adam and Eve were designed to experience physical pain. Pain was meant for our good, to warn us when something is wrong. Pain was probably meant to be a signal of the time of birth, but God said that the pain Eve and all women would receive would be intensified because of her sin. There would
be constant tension between men and women. Women will want to control their husbands or men thinking they donít know what they are doing; and men will think that women canít be trusted to do what is right and would turn compassion and servant leadership into power control. And work, the growing and gathering of food would be much harder as weeds and thorns would try to take
over the soil. Work would become exhausting and not fulfilling.
Yet none of this was as bad as it could have been. Adam and Eve could have dropped over dead, instead they were given time to be repent and be redeemed. They were given suffering to remind them of the sin of this world and the redemption that God Himself, in grace would provide. Notice two things:
1. God made a covenant promise directed to the Serpent or Satan, that he would suffer a fatal wound from an offspring of the woman. Adam and Eve heard that promise. (Gen. 3:15) It spoke of a Savior to be born. It became their hope.
2. Look at Gen. 3:21, "Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them." God himself, maybe the Son of God, slew the first animals, perhaps instructing and demonstrating the sacrificial substitute system. Sin requires death and God would accept an animalís death as a substitute until the redeemer could come and pay the
debt in full. Man did not get what he deserved. They did not drop over dead or descend into hell that day. Instead they were given loving kindness, justice, and righteousness that was bent towards grace. Without Godís grace, man would be assigned a place with Satan in a special place God had prepared for Satan and his followers known as the Lake of Fire. (Matt. 25:41; Rev.
20:10;15) More about that in 4 weeks.
A Big Problem
And that brings us back to the problem that has plagued the entire human race since that incident at the tree of knowledge. What we understand in the physical world happened in the spiritual part of man, in his soul. You know that a mother who is an alcoholic and bears a child will have a baby with an addiction to alcohol, or fetal alcohol syndrome. A
woman addicted to cocaine or heroin will bear a child addicted Ė a crack or heroin baby. A woman who has HIV AIDS will give birth to an infected child, as the continent of Africa bears witness today. In 2010, 3.4 million children under 15 were HIV positive in Africa, and 1,360,000 pregnant women tested HIV positive that year.
That is a picture of the human race. Look at Romans 5:12 and following. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. The remainder of the chapter deals with the results Adamís and the results of Jesusí actions. By one man, sin, death, and condemnation came upon
the whole human race.
The reality of inherited sin came when one brother took a knife and cut the throat of his younger brother as one sacrifices a lamb, because he thought it unfair that he couldnít come to God on Godís terms. He wanted to come on his own terms and was angry when he was rejected (Gen. 4). Look at Godís assessment of man just a chapter or two later. Genesis
6:5-6, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart."
Godís summation of man after the conquest of Canaan is that everyone did that which was right in his own heart (Judges 21:25). Jeremiah 9:14, reports a similar thing that men refused Godís ways and followed the dictates of his own heart.
Wesley Allen Dodd is cited as one of the most evil murderers this country has ever known. Having grown up in a troubled home, he began to molest small children from the time he turned 13. He is responsible for raping and molesting an unknown number of children as a teenager and while serving in the Navy. He brutally raped and murdered 3 young children
and was caught after trying to snatch a child from a movie theater. He was sentenced to die and was given a choice of hanging of lethal injection. He chose hanging. These are his recorded last words shortly after mid-night January 5th 1993:
"I was once asked by somebody, I don't remember who, if there was any way sex offenders could be stopped. I said, 'No.' I was wrong. I was wrong when I said there was no hope, no peace. There is hope. There is peace. I found both in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Look to the Lord, and you will find peace." Other mass murders have found that same peace; such
as, Son of Sam Satanic killer David Berkowitz, Charles Mansion gang members Charles (Tex) Watson, and Susan Atkins and more.
Thatís Not Fair
The murderers cited above cause some to say, "That isnít fair. People can molest, rape, and brutally murder children and be forgiven. That isnít right and itís not fair." We feel as if moderate sinners should be forgiven, not evil sinners. But here is the problem with that. Listen to Paul as he quotes from Isaiah and about 6 different Psalms: What
then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. 10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." 13 "Their
throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; 14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 and the way of peace they have not known." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 19 Now we know that whatever the
law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before GodÖ.For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:9-19:23).
How many good people are there in the world? There are none good; not one.
ē Total depravity doesnít mean that everyone is as evil as they could be, but it does mean that everyone is evil. It also means that we are as bad off as we can be. All of us were dead and destined to an eternity in hell.
ē It doesnít mean that man is incapable of doing good things on the horizontal or earthly level. Our Lord used an illustration one time for praying, and said this, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matt. 7:11). What did He just
call His disciples? Evil! Man still bears the image of God and is capable of doing some good things. But the heart of every person in this world is bent toward evil, selfishness, self- centeredness and what can I get out of this. Man may have a good and even a blameless reputation as Job did.
When we judge people by human standards we have some good people. Sometimes, I will tell Debbie, "He is a good man." I have judged him or her by human standards of goodness. But from Godís standards (Look at Romans 3:9-12 again), how many good and righteous people are there? None! Matt. 19:16-17, "Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher,
what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" 17 So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God." Who is a good person? No one but God. How can good people go to heaven? None! They canít! There is no one good enough. Jesus once said, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect, (Matt. 5:48).
If there was a goodness scale from 1 being the most evil to 100 being perfect, 99.999 would be a failing grade. The primary meaning of sin in both the Old and New Testaments is to miss the mark, to fall short of the standard. Sometimes it means a crossing of the line or the boundary whether it was intentional or unintentional. No one is guiltless says
Paul in Romans 3:19.
ē I ask again, what was it that brought the curse of God and suffering to human experience? Was it rape, robbery, or murder? No! What was it? It was one small infraction against the Holy Character of God. One act of disobedience. One bite of a piece of fruit that God said donít eat. One peak into the box. James reminds us in James 2:10, "For whoever
shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." We are as guilty as Wesley Allen Dodd, Charles Mansion, Judas, or Hitler.
ē Even Christ-Followers still have to fight and sometimes fail with the sin nature.
Solomon tells us, For there is not a just man on earth who does good
And does not sin (Eccl. 7:20). What did John tell us in 1 John 1:8-10, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in
us." Paul is constantly telling us, donít give into the old nature or the old man, put it off like a dirty shirt and put on Christ. You have the Holy Spirit walk in the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, pray in the Spirit and you wonít fulfill the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5). Why? Because the desires of the flesh are still there. But now we have the Holy Spirit to help us
to do what is right.
And listen, we cannot expect our President nor anyone else to act different than their sinful nature is leading them to act. Unless his heart and character are changed by knowing Jesus Christ he is going to live out his nature. A snake is going to bite or strangle. Why? Itís his nature.
God told our first parents that the results of sinful disobedience would be death (Gen. 2:18). Ezekiel 18:3, "Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die. Paul says, "The wages of sin is death," (Rom. 6:23). Hell, the Lake of Fire is what every human being in the world deserves
because we are all sinners. All totally incapable of being good apart from God. And listen carefully to me. Say, Amen! Every sinful thought, every sinful word, every sinful action, and every failure to do what is right, is a painful stab in the heart of God. It is the pain of disappointment. Every lustful thought, every refusal to forgive, every word spoken in anger, grieves
our Lordís heart, like your heart grieves when your child deliberately disobeys you. My Child did what? That breaks my heart and crushes my spirit to hear that those I would die for, made deliberate wrong choices. We grieve God every time we choose to be selfish and self-centered.
What is wrong with the world? We are! Why is there evil and suffering in the world, it is because the inhabitants of the world are not born clean and good, we are born bent on evil and selfishness and separated from God.
English evangelical preacher and martyr, John Bradford (1510Ė1555) is credited with the famous quote. "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford", when seeing criminals being led to the scaffold to hang. He didn't enjoy that grace for long, however. He was burned at the stake in 1555 for preaching the gospel.
It is exactly because of the total depravity of every human being that we have the horribleness of the cross. If anyone could be good enough, we would have not needed the cross. Jesus would not have had to die. Paul said, "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." God chose a costly
action for our redemption and salvation. He did what is beyond our imagination. The Holy God satisfied His Holy Justice with the death of His Son, so man could be declared righteous, and He did so by experiencing the horrors of hell for us when He died on that cross. Listen, this is a wonderful portion of scripture. "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and
sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His
grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:1-9) Isnít that awesome?
Why does God allow it? Why doesnít He stop it? Five reasons:
1. He has chosen to give man free will. Just like Adam and Eve, we can choose between continuing in evil or receiving the Grace of God. God wants to be known because we want to know Him and not because we have no choice. Who wants a spouse who has no choice? We want to be loved by the one who has considered the options and concluded on their own, "you
are the one I want." We are not robots like the Stepford Wives.
The Bible is a book about God reaching out to sinners and offering them grace and life. Moses said it and Jeremiah said it, "I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death, Choose Life." (Jer. 21:8; Deut. 30:19). Our Lord Jesus said, there are two roads, one leading to death and one leading to life, Enter the right one. (Matt. 7:13-14).
Sadly Romans 1:18-32 reveals that man knowing his actions are worthy of death and hell, will choose hell. Listen to verses 28-32, " And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;
full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same
but also approve of those who practice them."
We who have chosen grace ought to live every day as a Thank You to God for His grace. Thatís why we have the Greatest Commandment.
2. He wants us, who know Him and have received His Grace, to tell others how to know Him and receive His Grace. Thatís why we have the Great Commission.
3. He wants us who know Him and have received Grace to do something to combat the evil in this world (Rom. 12:21). If we know God we will want to imitate His loving kindness, His justice, and set things right with a bent towards grace. He wants us to not to return evil for evil but on the contrary to overcome evil with good. To set up Schools,
Hospitals, Charities, Rescue Missions; Provide Chaplains, Teachers, Shelters, Recovery Programs, Support Groups, Food Pantryís, Literacy Programs, Missionaries, Politicians, and more. Thatís why we have the New Commandment.
4. God is Glorified when His Children represent Him and Pay His Grace forward. 1 Peter 4:7-16 says, "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each
one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christís sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit
of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other peopleís matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter."
Just as Jesus our Lord glorified the Father by serving evil people and dying for them. God is glorified when we trust and obey Him and love lost and hurting people.
5. He has a set a date when He will put an end to sin and death. Only He and no man knows that date. It will be at or following the return of our Lord Jesus in all His glory. But at that time, all hope of salvation is forever gone. God endures the sinfulness of evil people, and who is that? All of us! To give your family and friends a chance to repent
and receive grace. If everyone got what they deserved when they deserved it the planet would be empty. We would all be in hell. Peter tells us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the
night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up (2 Peter 3:9-10). God endures the evil of man so that more people can find grace and salvation. Do you understand this?
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He
will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters,
and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev. 21:1-8)
We who have received Amazing grace are to be showing and telling evil people like Wesley Allen Dodd and your family and friends how to have Amazing Grace so that verse 8 will not be their lot.
Letís pray about it.
If this life lesson has challenged, encouraged or helped you, let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman