Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Ruin of Sin

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I am becoming more and more convinced every day that the root cause of so much faulty theology comes from a misunderstanding of the sinfulness of man. Whether my wife is talking to the Mormons that came to my door on Sunday evening while I was snoozing with my boys (I’m so proud of her), or whether you’re talking to a Jew or a Muslim (or any other religious affiliation), or if you are simply talking to a post-modern atheistic secular humanist who believes that religion is the cause for all of the problems of the world, the root cause of all of their false concepts of life and the afterlife come from a view that man is inherently good, or at that man is at least naturally neutral.

I am also becoming more and more convinced that a misunderstanding of man’s sinfulness is the root cause of various deviations inside of orthodox Christian theology as well as the fact that it is also a primary cause, while not the only cause, in the divisions between orthodox Christianity and false religion under the guise of a form of Christianity; Roman Catholicism would be the primary example, while it is surely not the only occurrence, of a truly false religion that masquerades under the guise of Christianity. Whether from Rome or a random preacher’s desktop computer, when men hold to the view that man is somewhat good or capable of good things on his own, they usually mess up the doctrine of salvation and consequently do not understand the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have heard (and read) men of many different stripes inside of Christendom make the mistake of commending to man some ability to do something truly good when the men they are referring to have not been transformed by the saving power of Christ that is received through faith. And it is a fundamental denial of the ruin of sin that lead men to create new ways for good people to get a “fair chance” before God. If we understand that there are no good people and furthermore that there is nothing innately good about any human and that all people are unrighteous and wicked to the core of their being, we then see the message of the cross in the correct way.

As a side note, I don’t believe that the errors of the anonymous Christianity as seen inside of protestant circles or the same types of theologies inside of Roman Catholicism come from a purposeful intent to destroy the gospel of God (for the masses, anyway). This error basically holds that there is, or must be, a way that a loving God has set up for those who have never heard of Christ to still be saved. And I believe that the majority of unbelievers, as well as believers, who sit in the pews each week and are sympathetic to this idea, seem to be motivated by the desire to preserve the justice of God. I believe that this is the reason why some less mature or Scripturally ignorant Christians might be wooed by this idea. But I would be amiss if I didn’t mention that while this might be a factor with unbelievers, a primary reason would also seem to be one of self preservation. You see, unbelievers still have the unmitigated guilt of their sin to deal with, and whether they are in a Christian church or not, this fictional possibility helps to soothe their own consciences with the hope that they might qualify for it if their professed faith is false.

The problems that come from a watered down view of the sinfulness of man and the indistinguishable idea of the ability of man (to do truly good things) very often result in views of salvation that are contrary to the gospel. Now, whereas many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are Arminian in their theological persuasion and they will disagree with me on some of the issues surrounding the doctrines of grace (a.k.a. Calvinism), they would ultimately hold to the correct understanding of the ruin of sin. They hold to the position that every man is able to receive salvation by faith in Christ, but it is not anything good about that man himself that lends to his salvation.

The reason for the importance of this doctrine is not in the fact that it is fun or that it makes people feel good to be made very aware of the fact that, just as the famous song says, we are all wretches because of our sin. Neither is it is not a reveling in the imminent damnation of the vast majority of humanity. It is a bold proclamation of the utter ruin of mankind so that Christ will be seen as the most beautiful and glorious Savior that He is. When you have a watered down view of sin and your own sinfulness, then you only need a watered down Christ to save you or to help you save yourself. The Bible doesn’t speak of Christ as a “kind of” or “mostly” savior; He is the perfect and ultimate savior of a ruined humanity. And it is only by faith in Him as He has been revealed through the pages of Scripture that we can be saved from the ultimate ruin of the wrath of God.

No comments:

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson