Die Before You Die!
What is the human being's natural condition?
The image of God drenches us with glory and renders us utterly unlike any other creature in the universe. We build, we create art, we love, we work. Which is as God intended.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Genesis 2:15 NIV
We were put here to develop this world to conquer it, to master it. But we were also ruined.
The rebellion of our Edenic grandparents flows down through every generation infecting every aspect of our existence. Our bodies start powering down at age 30, and disease and calamities sweep away large numbers of us in unpredictable horrors.
Worst of all, our minds and hearts have been infected. We crave the forbidden, we celebrate others' misfortune, and we hoard rather than give. In short, we construct our entire lives around the throne of SELF.
So we confess to Christ and concede the reality of sin. But do we underplay it?
We say "Nobody's Perfect" and we acknowledge that "We all make mistakes". But the problem is not that we are going in the right direction with just a few missteps, we are running in the wrong direction. As long as a man is persuaded that he himself can do even the least thing toward his salvation, he retains some self-confidence and is not humbled before God.
Does God want us to feel bad about ourselves? Absolutely not! He desires that we be joyously happy, filled with the cheer of Heaven itself. By opening our eyes to our desperate situation, He is sending us down into honesty and sanity. He wants us to understand that we need to come to Him to get healed.
This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward, they join the dead.
If you view your sinful nature as a bothersome headache more than lethal cancer, you will see lukewarm growth. When we see how desperately sick we are and how far we fall short of the glory for which God intended us, we have taken the first step in bridging the gulf between who we are and who we were meant to be.
"Learn much of your own heart and when you have learned all you can, remember you have seen but a few yards into a pit that is unfathomable."
Scottish pastor Robert McCheyne
The evil of sin itself is what keeps us from recognizing it.
"You will never make yourself feel that you are a sinner because there is a mechanism in you as a result of sin that will always be defending you against every accusation. We are all on very good terms with ourselves"
This is why the Bible often speaks of our sinfulness as blindness. The only sure foundation on which we can build spiritual growth is the solid ground of self-despair.
The point of all of this is that we must come face to face with who we really are. Christian salvation is not assistance, it is rescue. The gospel tells us we are dead and helpless unable to contribute anything to our rescue. What we do is we collapse. We let the despair about who we are, wash over us. In short, we die.
A character in C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces rightly puts it. "Die before you die. There is no chance after."