The Apostle Paul uses some strong and morbid language to describe how sinful we are. Can we really say that we are in a body of death? Can we really say that we are a wretch? What does this mean and why is the Gospel so marvelous?
Our catechism uses strong language that we naturally hate God and our neighbor. Do we really want to say that we naturally hate God? Do we really want to say that we naturally hate all people? Are we really that sinful? How can we find any way out of this sinful way of life?
There are stories in the Bible where we can see the victory of God’s plan working out. We think of Moses leading israel out of Egypt. That is a great story and a great time in covenant history. We think of Joshua saying his farewell to Israel. Yes, it is tragic to say good-bye to godly leader. However, at the same time there is the wonderful reminder for Israel to see that their life and identity is to be found in the Lord and the Lord alone. There are also other stories in the Bible that are just downright tragic. Judges 19 recalls such a tragic history where a Levite should know better, but he refuses to do what is honorable to the Lord. So, what do we make of Judges 19 with the Levite and his concubine? What does this reveal about our sojourning under the sun?
It is time for Zophar to express his concerns regarding Job’s convictions. He is going to continue his conviction about traditional wisdom making clear that this is the wisdom that has been manifested since man walked the earth. If Zophar has surveyed human history then he has to be right in his assessment of the problem right?
As Christians we can think that idolatry is only conducting baal worship or something that is forbidden in the Old Testament. We can think that we do not worship baal or the golden calf so we are free from this sin. The reality is that we are tempted to trust in many things to sustain us apart from the Lord. Why is it so absurd to trust in something other than the Lord?
There is no doubt that one would not be saved apart from the grace of God. I think all Christians who have a grasp of Christianity would affirm the necessity of grace for our salvation. We know that we are those who need grace, but how much grace do we need? Is 90 percent enough or do we need more? Is our confidence in that we will not fall away because we love the Lord enough or is it because know that the Lord loves us enough?
If we are honest we want to think that we are a little better than what we are. Sin deceives all of us into thinking that we might be a little worthy of the Lord’s grace and favor. How do we know that the gift we receive from God is something that is forced upon us? What is the contrast of Romans 6:23 that drives home the gift that God has given to us? How do we know that we have not earned this free gift from the hand of God?
It would be nice if we could make ourselves a little worthy of grace or maybe earn some of God’s favor during our life. The reality is that we cannot earn the Lord’s favor no matter how hard we work at it. So, why do we continue to press forward if we cannot please God anyway? Or maybe we are just exaggerating and man is not that bad. So, is mankind really so sinful that we cannot work to receive grace?
So often we want to think that we are not really that bad or that we are pretty good to put it positively. In fact, in American culture we don’t like hearing that we are sinners because we want to think that we are pretty good or decent to say the least right? We want to believe that we are going to get better and at this point we are not perfect. How can we cope with life if we are really sinful and by sinful I mean bad enough to do things that would absolutely make us shudder? How do we overcome that struggle?
The call for us to suffer and forgive those who offend us is a rather difficult challenge. We as humans want to make sure that we get our pound of flesh. We think that those who offend us must pay the price or we might want be scared that they will make a habit of offending us. So, why do we ask for forgiveness and ask that we would forgive others? What could possibly motivate us to want to fulfill this radical request?