(The following is taken from the e-book, “How To Find Peace With God (Answers From The Book About Salvation).” If you missed the first part of this series, please Click Here. If you would like to receive the entire e-book (in PDF format), please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
There Is Something Wrong With Us
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:10-11)
There is something wrong with you. There is something wrong with me. We all have something terribly wrong with us: we are all sinners. The very first step that we must take in order to find peace with God is to acknowledge and accept that there is something wrong with us, that we have a problem. It is not difficult for us to conclude that there is something wrong with this world, that things definitely do not operate the way that they should. Every religion, philosophy, and world-view recognizes this. But who is responsible for these problems, who is at fault, is the source of much disagreement. The nature of what is wrong with the world as well as who is to blame is the subject of a great deal of controversy.
Sin in our world, particularly personal accountability for sin, is something that the vast majority of people do not like to dwell on. We live in a world where sin is overlooked, guilt is suppressed, misbehavior is excused, and immorality is embraced. Modern Psychology, for instance, minimizes personal responsibility, attributing the faults of man to external and biological forces. It is a person’s environment, upbringing, or even society itself that is blamed for even the most horrific and appalling crimes committed. Anatomical anomalies in the brain itself are often cited as the causes behind every psychological disorder from low self-esteem and depression to morbid sexual perversions and the urge to commit mass murder. While there are definitely very real mental illnesses caused by physical problems within the brain itself that need to be approached in this manner, the problems of mankind go far beyond what medication and counseling alone can heal.
Politicians and government leaders blame those who disagree with them and oppose their programs for all of society’s woes. Those who represent different political parties are at fault for preventing them from solving all of the problems that have plagued man since the dawn of time. If we could just get the right candidate in office, they declare, then we could overcome all of the challenges we are facing. A new world of peace, prosperity, and everlasting bliss, a true “Utopia”, it would seem, is as close to being realized as the next election.
Some people believe that if we could merely put an end to war, ushering in an era of “world peace”, then everybody would suddenly get along and would be free to live a prosperous and worry-free life. For others, the real problems of this world are economical. If we could but close the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, if everyone could be on equal footing financially, then all crime and war would end forever.
Whether it is concluded that humanity’s problems are psychological, political, biological, economical, environmental, or a combination of them all, the general consensus is that all of our problems originate from two sources: other people, and outside forces. It is the rare individual who honestly concedes that they are the cause of any of their problems. Most of us truly believe that the solution to our difficulties lies in changing our circumstances and changing others. There is nothing wrong with me, the common opinion believes, if everyone thought like I did this world would be a much better place!
What God Says The Problem Is
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
If we are going to be at peace with God, we must find out what He says the problem with man is. What we feel is wrong with the world doesn’t really matter, it’s what God says that is true. Our problem, according to the Bible, is not a political one. It is not “abnormal psychology”, economics, war, or the fact that not enough people see things the way that we do. Our real problem lies within each and every one of us. Our problem is that we all have a sinful heart. It is our sin, our rebellion against God, that is the source of all of the problems that plague mankind. We live in a lost and fallen world that has become that way because of man’s sin. It is our sin that has separated us from God and it is our sin that stands in the way of coming to Him.
The truth of the matter is that none of us are good people. It is not other people who are the source of what is wrong in this world, it is all people – including me and including you. Not one of us is blameless; none are innocent. Romans 3:23 tells us:
Our tendency is to minimize, cover-up, deny, or excuse our faults. Our own misdeeds just don’t seem as bad in our own eyes. But God sees all of us from His own perfectly just perspective. And it is from this perspective that He declares we have all blown it! The first step in the road that leads to peace with God is quite possibly the most difficult. In fact, most people will never even make it this far. Yet if we are to be in right-standing with God, we must come to Him with an open and honest assessment of ourselves, recognizing and agreeing with His verdict of us. God already knows what is in our hearts, there is no sense in denying it to Him.
Can’t God Just Overlook Our Sins?
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)
These words were addressed to the nation of Israel after they had turned away from God, but they are really applicable to all people in all times. God created you and me to enjoy fellowship with Him; He never intended any of us to be separated from our Creator. The very first man, Adam, was created by God to be in everlasting relationship with Him and He intended the same thing for every one born thereafter. But when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, sin entered into the entire human race. We are told in the Book of Romans:
“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation…For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…” (Romans 5:18a, 19a)
That one man was the very first man, Adam. God permitted Adam and Eve to have free reign over the entire Garden of Eden, indeed over all the Earth, with only one stipulation: they must never eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for in that day they would die (Genesis 2:16-17). When the man and his wife disobeyed God, eating of the “Forbidden Fruit”, they died a spiritual death (they lived on physically for a long time after this) and were banished from the Garden and from the presence of God. They were separated from Him at that time. Consequently, every generation born thereafter would be born in a state of separation from God. We do not become sinners separated from God when we sin, we commit sin because we are sinners separated from God.
So why is it that sin should separate man from God in the first place? Doesn’t God love us and want to be in relationship with man? God does love us and He does want each of us to be in right-standing with Him. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is “longsuffering” toward us, not willing that any should perish. One of the most recognizable verses of Scripture tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16), and we read in 1 John 4:8 that God is love. If He loves us so much, how is it that He cannot overlook our sins and bring us all to live with Him in Heaven when this life is over? Because not only is God love, but He is also holy, and just, and righteous. These are other attributes of God Almighty and He can no sooner stop being holy than He can stop being loving. The love of God motivates Him to want us to not be separated from Him, but His righteousness demands it. If God were to merely overlook our sins, if He were to just “sweep our rebellion against Him under the rug”, then He would cease to be a just and righteous God. His righteousness compels Him to deal justly and fairly with everyone, judging sin anywhere that it is committed – even when that means us.
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die…” (Ezekiel 18:20a)
“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a)
Considering that God is a just and holy God, our predicament does not look very good. We are all “dead men walking” with the sentence of execution having already been handed down. We sometimes think of “Judgment Day” as the time when we will stand trial before God and He will there and then determine our fate based on the life we have led. But, sadly, the verdict has already been reached and judgment made. Our fate is sealed before we ever stand before God and, apart from God’s Salvation, we all stand condemned. There is nothing that we ourselves can do to change this destiny, we cannot save ourselves.
In the next chapter, we will look at why all of our own efforts to save ourselves or make ourselves at peace with God are absolutely useless.