What is a world without God like? What do we individually look like–our most secret inner thoughts and feelings, our words and behaviors–without the redeeming influence of Jesus in our life? Are we just innocents corrupted by external factors, such as poverty and the lack of a good education? If we were to restructure our society so that there is no want–and certainly we should actively work to help the least in our society live decent lives–but would we then become good, kind-hearted, selfless and generous? Is there no evil when there is no scarcity? Or are the external stressors and difficulties we face only the exacerbating factors that bring out the sin latently present inside of each and every one of us?
“Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence…everyone on earth was corrupt.” (Genesis 6:11-12)
As I grow older, I am increasingly appalled by how low the human condition can stoop when it hasn’t heard about God, or has rejected Him. The Gospel–the message of forgiveness through Christ Jesus; the words of the Bible–really is a preservative of society. What do I mean?
Without the redeeming message of God’s Word, not just some, but every people group is capable of the most abominable wickedness and depravity. But our culture in the West–Europe and North America–has long been influenced by Biblical precepts, while Christianity is just beginning to take root in other areas of the world, such as China. And although these benefits may go away over time as we continue to reject Christ’s teachings, at present we still have established generational blessings some cultures lack. Like what?
Well, mercy, for example. Discipline is good–it fosters order and the adherence to law in a society–but extreme harshness is miserable and ungodly. Deviousness, hatred, vengeance for legitimate wrongs against oneself or family, refusing to forgive, murderous thoughts and actions–all of these qualities that are foreign to a Christian culture because God abhors them are not only common in cultures without Christ, some are socially expected and even valued.
We in the West tend to take our Christian heritage for granted; increasingly it is even resented and efforts are made to eliminate any vestiges that bear witness to it at all–as if it is something to be ashamed of. Yet it is that heritage that gives us the blessings we still enjoy. We know little of the concept of vengeance because God commands, “…Vengeance is Mine; I will repay…” (Romans 12:19) We forgive when others mess up and are ourselves forgiven when we do, because God said, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) We don’t understand the discord and unrest generated in the heart by festering hatred because God says, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” (I John 3:15) We live in relative safety because God say, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13) We can trust our family, friends and neighbors because God say, “…the devious are an abomination to the Lord; but He is intimate with the upright.” (Proverbs 3:32)
God protects individuals and cultures that embrace Him; that accept His teachings and cling to them–but He removes His protection from us, individually and as a people, when we reject them. Maybe not right away, but if we are reprobate; if we continue to push Him away personally and corporately–eventually we will wake up and find that our lives are a mess and our culture is no longer good; that it is full of violence and every other evil thing our depraved sin-natures gravitate toward in the absence of a reverence for the holiness of God and the forgiveness and love Christ’s Spirit generates in our hearts and lives.
Genesis 6:11-12 describes the condition of the pre-Flood world; it was filled with violence, and it was corrupt. To be corrupted means to be ruined; to have deviated from it’s original condition. Sin had infected humankind, and everyone was doing whatever their evil human heart wanted–not unlike how many are living today. Without Jesus, we have no moral compass; although we are convinced we can, we cannot even correctly appraise what is right and what is wrong, and do whatever seems right to me–and it ends up being very wrong. God describes us as being dead in trespasses and sins. But when we accept Jesus; when we believe God–“…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away…all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) God forgives and accepts us, and gives us a new spirit that longs for Him and for what is good, and makes us capable of doing good!
Dear Lord God,
Save me personally, and my culture too, from the corruption of rejecting what is right and good; from pushing away from You! Amen.