As Bad as We Could Be? H.C. Lord's Day 3

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 3

Q6. Did God create people so wicked and perverse?
A6. No. God created them good and in his own image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness, so that they might truly know God their creator, love him with all their heart, and live with God in eternal happiness, to praise and glorify him.

Q7. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?
A7. The fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise. This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are all conceived and born in a sinful condition.

Q8. But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil?
A8. Yes, unless we are born again by the Spirit of God.

Are we really that bad?  This question is asked a lot by optimists and non-believers who desire to make a case for themselves and their perceived “inherent goodness.”  All people, culture would tell us, are inherently good; Scripture says otherwise.  Our reality is, as humans, we are born in sin and it infects us to our very core from the moment that we are conceived.

Does this mean that God created us this way?  That would seem to be a convenient out for us, but the answer to that question is also a resounding “NO.”  God created humankind perfectly in His image with the what we know as free will.  We have the ability to follow God’s will and God’s Law but, because of the Fall, we are infected by sin, a terminal infection that taints every aspect of our being.  In theological terms, this is called “total depravity.”

This does not mean that we are as bad as we could possibly be.  It does, however, mean that we are totally incapable of doing good on our own.  Ever aspect of who we are is bent toward evil; we desire rebellion against God.

Some have taken this theological tenant and called it “total inability;” that certainly has aspects of truth to it but perhaps slightly misses the mark.  As we will see next week, we are created with the ability to follow God’s Law, yet the sin that is in us causes us to turn away.  If we did not have the ability to keep the law it would put the fault back on God where it does not belong.

There is good news at the end of this week, though, and that is the Good News of the Gospel.  In Jesus Christ we are born again, our old sinful self is put to death and we are washed clean in Jesus’ blood.  In this moment, something changes.  Even though we are still sinful, those sins are washed away and we are made righteous in the sight of God.  More that this, though, as we experience this New Life, having Jesus enthroned in the very center of our heart, we also experience a new desire to follow God, to live in grateful response to the grace that He has shown us.  Through the Holy Spirit in us, our direction changes and we find ourselves desiring to live for God, not ourselves.

Romans 8 – Spiritual Life

Read Romans 8

Claiming to be “spiritual” but not Christian has become a common phrase in western culture.  As social and cultural trends continue to move us away from anything that may have a “negative past,” people have desired to shed the Christian title and lingo for the sake of less “offensive” labels.  While there is something to be said for being conscious of what one is known for (or as), the title of those who are “in Christ” is not nearly as important as the reality that comes with their identity.

As Paul has been laying out the plan of salvation, he has made it abundantly clear that we are sinners who are born sinful by nature, and that God is justified in His judgment against us.  However, the reality of the grace of God in Jesus Christ leads to these words, the apex of God’s salvific work in Jesus Christ: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

With these words, Paul speaks to the truth of our identity.  When we place our faith in Jesus Christ and receive the Grace of God, we are forgiven of our sins, set free from sin’s bondage, and ushered into a new life in which the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ and we find ourselves raised with Him.  Your old self is no more; we have been made new.

This new identity is permanent.  Do we continue to sin?  Yes.  The fullness of our new life in Christ will not be recognized this side of eternity.  But Scripture assures us that we no longer stand condemned because the one who can condemn us is also He who died for us, and nothing in all creation can separate us from His love.  This is true spiritual life.