(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
What do you say? God is, or God isn’t?
I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3, KJV
When I enrolled in graduate school, for the first time in my life I was taught by highly trained, thoughtful, dedicated professors who not only used textbooks that ruled out God, but who themselves sincerely believed there is no God. For them, God isn’t.
In my studies in clinical psychology, we grappled with the challenge of helping disturbed people. We thoughtfully pondered how to help hostile, hateful, resentful, rebellious, frustrated, confused, angry, cruel, selfish, dishonest, destructive people.
We all agreed that these words accurately describe the dark side of human behavior. We were taught that a person is a biological organism whose total personality is the product of functioning in a social and cultural context. A disturbed person is one whose needs are not met when he comes into the world, who is neglected, who lives in an environment that is cold and indifferent toward him. To understand what is behind this disturbed person’s behavior is to seek complex origins in a murky past. The process can take months or years. Then the question becomes: What in the world can be changed or given to release this person from a prison of destructive emotions and behavior?
“No deity can save us. We must save ourselves.”
This is the position taken in secular colleges, secular textbooks, in most graduate training, and in a formidable mass of “scientific research.”
This is the operating philosophy of government, heavily financed mental health agencies, professionally trained counselors, and the bulk of medically trained personnel.
Human problems are not ignored. In fact, we spend billions of dollars annually searching for solutions. Educators, politicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, social workers, social agencies, and law enforcement agencies confront these problems every day.
A massive group of people—intelligent, educated, influential, politically powerful people, who have the best interests of humanity at heart—firmly and fiercely reject the concept of sin, a creator, and a God. You might compare that host of people to a huge giant called Goliath. They firmly believe: God isn’t.
There is another tiny group standing up to Goliath. This group (and I am one of them) believes that God is. We agree with the Goliath crowd that these words accurately describe the dark side of human behavior (hostile, hateful, resentful, rebellious, frustrated, confused, angry, cruel, selfish, dishonest, destructive).
But at this point in the road, we come to a fork. We disagree that these words describing human behavior are socially and culturally caused. Our guidebook is the Bible. This book puts all those descriptive words under one heading. The heading is Sin. We are born with sinful hearts. Society only brings out of our hearts what is already there. When our leader announced to the Goliath crowd that He came to save them from their sins, they replied with one thunderous voice: Crucify Hlm. They did.
In standing up to Goliath, our little group might be compared to a little boy called David. We dare to use the word sin and affirm there is no human remedy for sin. You need a Savior who will cleanse you from sin and empower you to walk in the Spirit (in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).
If it is sin, that’s good news. Sin is the simplest thing in the world to deal with. Jesus died to cleanse us from sin.
“Too simple,” says the Goliath crowd.
It is recorded that the third day after Jesus was crucified, the disciples were assembled in a room with the doors shut for fear of the religious leaders. Jesus appeared in the room and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Then He breathed on them and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 20:21-22, NASB
Are we to believe that Jesus can change a fearful person into a peaceful person as quickly as it takes to exhale a breath of air?
Make no mistake. The people who approach life from humanistic assumptions make up a huge majority of the people you deal with every day. How long has it been since you had a conversation about sin and its cure?
As I have labored in the past to take an accurate case history from a counselee, I came across some statements made about Jesus:
[Jesus] knowing their thoughts . . . (Luke 11:17, KJV) [Jesus] knowing their hypocrisy . . . (Mark 12:15, NASB)
God, who knows the heart . . . (Acts 15:8, NASB)
Jesus didn’t need a case history. Another time I came upon a hopeful statement:
For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6, NASB
I began to pray for wisdom and understanding. Over a period of months I experienced some amazing encounters and results with people seeking help. I can’t claim credit because my input was often very minor.
Examine some of these experiences of people who have come to me with their burdens. You be the judge if these stories are too simple.