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our human condition pt 3

"It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.  
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes."  
(Psalm 118:8-9 ESV)

In our class studying basic theology (using the Heidelberg Catechism) these questions (among others) came up in our discussion of human sinfulness, sometimes called total depravity.  

Question: "How then can we trust anyone?  Isn't community built upon a level of trust?"   

See Psalm 118:8-9 (above) and 146:3; and then note Jesus' words here: "But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man."  (John 2:24-25)  The distinction is this: trust in regards to those things revealed by God, or salvation truths, or things provided by God alone, this trust must be in God alone.  However, in life (this natural world) we must have trust in our dealings with others.  In John chapter 4, when Jesus met the woman at the well, he certainly trusted her to give him water to drink from her vessel, but he did not trust, or leave unaddressed, her view of life, morality, and worship

In child-rearing, we may generally trust our children to do the right thing, but we must be aware of the bad influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Our trust in parenting is in the work of God in them, that is our ultimate confidence.  But Proverbs teaches us that parenting also involves discipline and reproof.  "Trust, but verify." 

Question:  "What about sincere non-Christians who are better than many Christians we know?"  Another way to ask this is, why is the world not as bad as it's supposed to be and why is the church not as good as it's supposed to be?  

Indeed many non-Christians seem to live better lives than many Christians we know.  God's common (or, universal) grace explains the former (why the world is not as bad as we might expect), and indwelling sin (the flesh) in believers explains the latter (why the church is not as good as we might expect).  

Perhaps the parable of the wheat and weeds growing together (Matthew 13:24ff) may help us to see that in this world, at any given stage, the saved and the unsaved may appear very much alike.  

Further, we need to keep in mind these three things when we are considering people as "good" or "bad":

1) Motives and intentions.  Just like we can't see, and can't adequately judge, the motives and intentions of people who act wickedly, so also we can't see, and shouldn't be quick to approve, the motives and intentions of people who appear to do good.  We do not know what is going on in the heart.  God is the ultimate Judge of both.  People can do much apparent good from impure motives.  (See Luke 18:9ff.)

2)  Different starting points.  Many non-Christians have had the advantage of a good upbringing and education.  Many Christians have come to faith out of broken and ignoble backgrounds (see 1 Cor. 1:26-29).  So, in a way, some believers have started further back on the road to moral character than some unbelievers.  We must be aware of progress, and not just current condition.    

3)  In addition to that, many non-Christians have had the advantage of Christian influence in their lives.  That is, parents, grandparents, schools, and churches may have influenced them toward biblical virtue.  Their good moral character may come not from their current non-Christian worldview, but from the remaining momentum of Judeo-Christian influence.  

Question.  "Why did God allow evil come into the world in the first place?" 

That is the granddaddy of all questions!  What I said in class was basically a paraphrase of Augustine: God would not allow evil to enter the world unless he could control it and bring a greater good out of it.  Also, Norm Geisler (a former teacher) would often say to us, "This is not the best of all possible worlds, but it's the best way to the best of all possible worlds."  There are quite a few things we might never have known apart from the entrance of sin into the world, things like courage, humility, faith, and forgiveness. 




Comments

I like your statement: The heart is not neutral and free, but is thoroughly tainted with evil, to lesser or greater degree. In other words, there is not a pure, good core (or portion) of the heart. It is God's grace and mercy that keeps us from being as bad as we could be, and it is his grace that shows us much good.

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