Every act of idolatry is a rebellion against God; a misuse of our function and worship; a sin with tremendous consequences; a legacy many generations will not be able to out-live.
If we try to convince ourselves that sin only affects us from without, and does not also spring forth from without, we will have some consequences to deal with–we can be sure! Failure to face the truth never turns out better than if we had faced it squarely.
By believing that sin and its affects come from some place exclusively outside us, we are saying that we don’t belong to the fellowship of sinners. We say we can avoid that label because our personal righteousness is of a higher caliber than that of everyone else.
Even if we say that most people are basically good and cannot really be charged with “sinning,”aren’t we really just saying that we refuse to acknowledge that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin–and any other grossly immoral person you can think of–is not really human?
Aren’t we just trying to put a comfortable distance between us and them; enough to say that we’re not really anything like them–we could never be capable of what they are? I don’t think we can stand on that. For one thing, is is obvious that they were physically a part of our same species. If you read their writings and listen to their speeches, it is indisputable that they exercised the same powers of speech, intellect, reasoning and persuasion that we have. (I trust that they also smelled, sounded and tasted the same way we do–disregard that last one!)
If this does not make them human, then we must ask ourselves, what constitutes a human? Or, more revealing, what constitutes a human that does not undermine our pleasant perceptions of ourselves?
Now, that’s a hard one. I think if we really look at everyone, every single person on this globe of ours, you would not find one that did not make your foundation for self-view a little shaky. In fact, I think you would find seven billion and more examples of sin and depravity that you would find revolting–if you could indeed see far enough into each. I’m no scientist, but I suspect that that would be enough evidence for a personal reevaluation to be necessary. A multitude of theories would most likely need to be thrown out if one is to remain relevant to truth.
So, do you do it? Do you throw out the theory of mankind being basically good and search for a new one? Do you search not only for a new theory on human orientation, but also a new definition of self?
I hope so. I hope you don’t avoid acknowledging sin so much that you never encounter righteousness. I hope you leave the land of “mediocrity” where every man’s a sinner but he won’t quite say it; where every man’s more in danger of hell than he is of saying it; where every man has a Savior waiting for him, yet chooses instead to risk being a savior to himself.