About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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The Evil We Are


You're okay.  I'm okay. We're all okay, so the popular 1967 book entitled "I'm OK You're OK" stated.  (Thomas Harris MD New York Time best selling list from 1972 to 1974)  Are we all really  okay?  Are some more okay than others?  Maybe President Obama is okay but Iran's President Ahmadinejad isn't okay.  Or, maybe Mitt Romney is okay and Barack Obama isn't okay.  How about, I'm okay and the rest of you aren't okay?   Okay, I admit, something doesn't sound okay about that one. 


I believe the general perception is that at the core of who we are, we're really not all that bad.  We're  actually better than okay.  We're good.  We may do some bad things from time to time, but doing bad things doesn't mean we're bad.  


What if I told you that the heart of man, who we are at our core, is deceitful above all things, and is beyond cure?  "Beyond cure" sounds pretty bad.  Most people these days would disagree with me in an instant.  Such a characterization would apply to people like President Ahmadinejad, or a murderer, and other such people, but not to the average person.  Believe it or not, this isn't my characterization.  God spoke this through His prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 17:9)  


Just in case you think Jeremiah heard God wrong, look at what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 7:11.  "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him".


Prosperity preachers have often used, or should I say misused,  these words of Jesus to promote the so-called "prosperity gospel".  There's more to what Jesus is saying here than merely satisfying our lusts for good gifts.  First of all, He was speaking to His devoted disciples, not to murderers, not to Pharisees, or, not even to the general public.  Part of what Jesus was saying is that His disciples were evil.  He specifically said, "if you, then, who are evil..."   Prosperity teachers tend to miss that evil people ask for evil things, which puts a whole different slant to what kind of things we should be asking from God.  Jesus didn't say His devoted disciples did evil things.  He said they were evil.  According to Jesus, you and I are evil, something that is seldom taught in church these days.   


Jesus was also acknowledging the fact that, we being evil, can still do good things, like giving good gifts. Therefore, just because we are capable of doing good, doesn't mean we are good.  This is a fundamental truth of Scripture, a long standing, but now seldom taught, doctrine of the church.    


The Greek word "poneros" is translated as "evil" in Matthew 11:7.  "Poneros" means an active form of evil.  It's not a dormant evil hanging out somewhere deep in our souls doing nothing.  It's an evil that is actively working its way out of our souls into our daily lives.  Compared to some people, you and I appear to be pretty good, but compared to God and His standards of goodness, we are evil.  We just don't seem to get this.  We're so evil that we can't comprehend thinking we're not good. Thus, we think we're  better than what we really are. 


No wonder the Bible tells us to both recognize and admit to our sinful nature, and then repent.  Without acknowledging who we really are, there can be no meaningful repentance.  Without any meaningful repentance, there is no meaningful faith.  Without any meaningful faith, there is no salvation.  With this in mind, I wonder just how many saved people there are in what we call church these days.


One of the most fundamental truths of Scripture is what theologians call the "depravity of man".  It's the first issue to be considered when teaching the gospel of Christ.  We, at the core of who we are, are evil.  We're beyond any human cure.  This basic doctrine of Scripture needs to be reintroduced into church.  We're way too influenced by the worldly philosophy of "you're okay, I'm okay".   Understanding who we are in Biblical terms is not as harmful to our self esteem as most think.  It's actually the first step in elevating our self esteem in a godly manor.    


Without understanding the nature of sinful man, it's hard for me to think we can understand the nature of salvation, and the nature of God.  Once you begin to realize who you really are, you'll begin to appreciate Jesus more than ever.            



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