Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Human Condition

The human condition. It is completely impossible for the human mind to envision the concept of holiness. We often settle for a “without sin” definition and with that we have constructed some point of reference around which we can wrap our minds. Although that may suffice for the purposes of systematic theology, it is a pitiful and powerless mental safe house. It affords us the luxury of a discussion without the necessity of understanding the subject. Go ahead and provide some verbal or written outlet that presumes to broach the subject of holiness and the first step you take is usually a step backwards camouflaged as a step forward.

Holiness is a mystery only unraveled by Him Who is holy. God did not achieve holiness, He is holy. And we, as blind spectators, dialogue among us as if holiness were our own field of expertise. If we cannot grasp the concept, what hubris is it to explain the reality? The unholy sit at the gates of truth and bandy about the profound mysteries as if they were easily within our ability to unpack and present on some flannel graph presentation. Taking the Taj Mahal and reducing it to an Appalachian lean to, and using that lean to as a conduit through which we can see and appreciate the glory of the Taj Mahal, is hopeless. Let us understand holiness best by understanding that we are powerless to understand it.

Against that insurmountable mountain, let us now understand the human condition as it compares to God’s holiness. We, as a race, are lost in an incomprehensible condition of absolute depravity, both as a status and in practice. There are no beings that compare with humans as it concerns evil imaginations, deeds, and self righteousness. The Scriptures rightly describe us as “inventors of evil things”. The human race was not satisfied with exercising the panorama of evil already afforded us; we must invent more and more evil with which to exhibit who we really are.

We are not just adrift in a sea of evil, we are the architects of more powerful engines that carry us farther and more quickly downstream toward more and more perfect expressions of evil, all the while maintaining the mirage of philanthropic compassion and a pursuit of righteousness. What a breathtaking deception! What a piece of work is a man indeed! And in order to divert attention from our own deeds, we amplify the horrific deeds of others. As long as we seem far from being Charles Manson we suggest a more diluted essence of evil and on some level a milder form of depravity.

But as soon as the hint of holiness enters the room we are all undone equally and without a vestige of good, to say nothing of righteousness. Holiness reduces us all to what we really are, rebels and self serving creatures determined to have everything serve our carnal needs. Our minds are imagery cesspools that replay and create mental movies of all kinds of wickedness and savagery. Leaving aside the lie we tell ourselves about ourselves, our imaginations and thought processes envision everything through prisms of subjective judgments. Sitting in the front row, we review and critique the human play as if we alone have motives fair and bright. Everyone else is subject to evil surmise and the subjective evaluation of our own conjecture concerning their motives and hearts. In short, we have improved upon Copernicus by making ourselves the center of everything.

The human race murders. Some murder for profit while others murder by compunction. Some murder for greed and others murder for land. Some murder only adults while others murder children, born and unborn. Some are satisfied with one murder while others murder as a lifestyle. Some murder with their own hands while others are buffered by guns and bombs. And the entire human race are serial murders, executing many in the killing fields of their own minds. Oh yes, we are all placed at the scene of the crime called murder.

This spiritual condition is so vile and corrupt we are called simply “dead”. It is impossible from that vantage point to see with any clarity the contemptible debauchery that sin represents to a kingdom of righteousness. Sin is not just a kingdom infraction; it is active wickedness designed to undermine the foundations of that kingdom. Sin tears at the basic fabric of God’s kingdom and represents a death fissure in the foundation of holiness. Sin cannot be diluted and there can be no spiritual negotiations that make an allowance for sin in God’s kingdom. Sin is fatal.

When we are outside of Christ we are dead men walking. On the outside we appear alive and well while on the inside we are spiritual terrorists continually looking for ways to rebel against the King. When Adam sinned the spiritual breach was eternal and judgment was immediate, comprehensive, and eternal. God explains it to us in terms that we can grasp on some level, but to understand eternal death is far beyond our capacity to assimilate. Hopeless, helpless, lost, and dead…that is the human condition. Do not attempt to euphemize our plight, for in so doing you will minimize the cost of redemption. Words are poor vehicles for carrying the weight of our spiritual condition and only the Spirit of God can convict and persuade us, but He can never fully enlighten us concerning the eternal peril in which we stand outside of Christ.

So here we lie.
Next scene: Enter grace.

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