‘“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)?”’
The Imperfect Man in Adam
If I said you were depraved, I’m pretty sure you would resent my accusation. Most likely the hackles on the back of your neck would rise, and quite possibly you would be on the attack with a verbal response. You might even try to conceal your anger by not raising your fist, but your heart is seething. So perhaps my description of you is not far from the mark (Romans 3:23)! [Note – I’m using hyperbole, so please don’t take umbrage.]
Now, truthfully, what would be your response? Would you acquiesce and ignore me? Would try to justify yourself by endeavouring to prove you are nothing of the sort? After all, you’ve done many good deeds in your life: you are a good dad who has faithfully worked for an income; you have provided for the home, your wife and your children. You’ve never hurt anybody, or that’s what you think. Surely your altruism is plain for all to see!
The truth is you’ve lied, you’ve cheated, you’ve hated, and your life has been very selfish. More often than not, you’ve placed yourself first. The so-called good things you have done, were not really for the benefit of others, but for your inward satisfaction. You wanted to feel good; you wanted to look good, and you wanted people to esteem you.
Today you pat yourself on the back and take pride in the fact that you have given your time, money and energy doing good works. You hold your head high, and you feel superior as you receive the accolade. Your name is in the local newspaper, and maybe someone will nominate you for an MBE? You deserve it for all the hard work. It’s only fair. You really do deserve it!
So you kid yourself that your motives are pure and you really are a good person. The truth is you worship yourself and you are prideful. You are satan’s child, helplessly held by his grip. Your heart has deceived you (Jeremiah 17:9), and you do not know the truth (John 14:6).
If none of the above applies to you, then you are not human. You are not a descendant of Adam, dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). You might even think you can plead a good case for entering God’s heaven on your merits, but of course you would be disappointed; for the criterion for entrance into the kingdom is perfection! – perfection in God’s Son (Matthew 5:48; 1 John 2:5; Colossians 1:28).
The truth is satan is your master (John 8:44), and he is your downfall. For as long as you are governed and controlled by him, you are bound in fetters, reserved for a very hot and painful place (Revelation 20:15). Your master is utterly evil. He is the antithesis of God, who is good, pure, gracious, righteous, holy and *all-powerful. By comparison satan is utterly evil. He has some power, but for only as long as God permits (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Finally he will be ‘cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10).’
The natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14) in Adam cannot help himself. He is in a state of total depravity with satan as his god (2 Corinthians 4:4).
The Perfected Man in Christ
‘“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).”’
So, what’s the answer? Is there a way out? Can you escape your depravity?
You recognise you are not worthy to enter heaven, and the only way to get through the pearly gates (Revelation 21:21) is by being perfect. It’s obvious you can’t help yourself. The Scriptures tell you that you are dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). You cannot enter into the realm of the kingdom of heaven without being changed (2 Corinthians 5:17; 15:52). You need help. You are desperate. You recognise your depravity. In the image of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22) you will die.
But by God’s mercy (Exodus 34:6, 7) you find yourself on your knees before the cross of Jesus.
You are sorrowful (2 Corinthians 7:10) beyond understanding; yet there is a peace and a calmness of your soul (Philippians 4:6,7). Before you is the battered, blood-stained Jesus; His flogged flesh is torn to shreds. Your eyes meet His, and He looks at you with deep compassion. At that life-giving moment there is a remarkable throbbing of your heart. You confess before Him that you are unworthy to be in His presence and that you are ashamed of your evil ways. You tell Him you are sorry for the wrongs you have done. In your wretchedness you ask Him for His forgiveness.
Suddenly He cries out with a load voice, “It is finished)!” He gives up His spirit (John 19:30) and He no longer breathes. Naked and motionless His forlorn body pierced by the nails, hangs before you, and you know you have His pardon. He has cast your sins far away (Psalm 103:12), and His blood has washed (Revelation 1:5) you clean (7:14).
You stand in His perfection (Ephesians 4:13), and when the final call comes He will be ready to receive you with outstretched arms. You will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
This is the state of the regenerated man in Christ – a man who is no longer depraved, but in his right mind (Mark 5:15).
Dear reader, if you are not in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:3-6), I plead with you to hear Him (Matthew 17:5) and respond to His call, ‘“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).”’
*The Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of God