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Goodness or Depravity? Some or all?

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

July 21, 2013

“Be good and you will be lonesome.” Mark Twain

“Children show me in their playful smiles the divine in everyone. This simple goodness shines straight from their hearts and only asks to be loved.” Michael Jackson

I’ve been thinking about the so called goodness of man of late. Many still want to cling to its existence in spite of the ever increasing evidence to the contrary.

My daughter is going to be 23 in a few months, and I know sooner or later some young man is going to make the mistake of asking me if he can court her. Pity his soul. But anyways I’ve decided how our first conversation will go.

“In choosing a mate, don’t pick the tallest and most handsome or the most beautiful. Don’t choose one just because that person raises your physical passions. Look for the person who is good from within, the one with substance and worth.” Helen Quist Milligan (Mormon writer and educator).

Good from within…. Really? Happy Hunting!

Back to my some day conversation with the pitiable young man…. Randy: So…. You want to court my daughter Caroline huh? Are you familiar with King David of the Bible? Young man: yes sir! Randy: Of all the men of the Bible, how would you rate him as far as personal godliness and piety? Young man: I would put him pretty near the top sir. The Bible even calls him, “a man after God’s own heart” if I remember correctly. Randy: Yes it does, and it doesn’t call anyone else that – does it? Young Man: No sir it doesn’t. Randy: Are you aware that King David – probably after he had written many of his wonderful Psalms and won many military victories, decided to sit a certain war out, and while on his upper deck one day, saw a beautiful married woman bathing, had her brought to his house, had an adulterous affair with her (both she and he were married), tried to get her husband to come home from the war and spend a few nights with her so they could have sex and he could blame the baby in her womb on him, but he wouldn’t cooperate out of his strong military commitment while his comrades were risking their lives, so David had him go back to the front lines, where David had instructed the commander to make sure he was killed; and then after that King David – the man after God’s own heart – sat on this horrible sin for two years before he came clean on it – – and then only because a prophet had the guts to confront him on it?? Young Man: Well yes I’m somewhat familiar with the story, but haven’t really thought of it in that light…. Randy: So let me ask you, could you do something like that? Young Man: Oh no sir. I love God and I love your daughter, and I would never do anything like that. Randy: Hmmmm… well I could………. Now I never have in 32 and a half years, but I could – most definitely could….. Young Man: shocked silence…. End of conversation

I’ll never forget when I was in Seminary in Dallas. We were in a class where we were studying II Samuel, and the professor just explained in great detail just how horrible and wicked King David’s sins re: Bathsheba and her husband (not to mention to his wives, children and the people he was leading) were. Some of my fellow students just couldn’t bring themselves to believe that King David – the man after God’s own heart and writer of the Psalms could have done this. I silently sat there and thought, “I could have done this.”

One of the reasons I love God and follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is because His word is true – absolutely true in every respect – especially in what it says about the nature of man. And it provides hope and real solutions, after it jolts you with the truth.

The prophet Jeremiah put it this way, “The heart is deceitful about all else and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) Was he just speaking of the hearts of serial killers and gang rapists? I think not.

Actually what tipped me off to this being my next subject for my blog was my Bible reading this last Tuesday morning in Acts chapter 3. This was Peter’s second sermon in Jerusalem after Jesus ascended to heaven, and ch. 4 tells us that 5,000 men alone believed in Christ after hearing it and after witnessing the healing of the lame man, which is what attracted the audience for Peter to preach to. Anyways I was struck with how Peter ended his sermon. Not sure we hear this too often in sermons today. Listen to Acts 3:26 “For you first (speaking to Jews), God raised up His Servant (Jesus) and sent Him to bless you by turning EVERY ONE OF YOU from your wicked ways.” (my emphasis). Not sure who that leaves out folks!

Oh I get it, we humans have evolved significantly since then. Riiiight…..

Whittaker Chambers – A communist party member in the early 20th century, who then some time later left the party after seeing the moral bankruptcy of it, said of man in general, “Man without God is a beast and never more beastly than when he is most intelligent about his beastliness.”

C.S. Lewis put it this way, “No clever arrangement of bad eggs will make a good omelette.”

Many in our society today are trying their best to make that “good” omelette I’m afraid.

No prospective spouse of your child or teacher or politician or writer or preacher/pastor who is not willing to admit that each of us is born with a propensity to evil called sin is really fit to marry your child or teach or govern or write or preach… Inability or unwillingness to deal with root issues when it comes to the problem of sin and evil resident in all of us only results in band-aids. No cures therein.

Our country was founded by a group of men (and their wives) who on the most part believed our form of government was necessary with all of its checks and balances precisely because of the reality of the depravity of man. Here is one of hundreds of quotes I could provide from our founding fathers on this reality. “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” James Madison

This is why Jesus was so insistent with one of the most “goodest” rulers of the Jews – Nicodemus – that he must be born again (see John 3). There just isn’t any way to patch up our brokenness. We need a total do-over – – an overhaul by the Spirit of God. The good news is that’s what Jesus specializes in.

So whatever control or influence I have over my daughter’s future husband (an unknown man my wife and I have prayed for hundreds of times together), or any person who teaches or coaches or governs people I care about – – I want to know – – do they see this? Are they willing to admit it? Do they really believe we are getting better – becoming more “good”? And if they see it, what are they doing about it first in their own life, and then in the lives of others in society?

I conclude with this quote from the ultimate realist – the apostle Paul re: his own struggle with sin, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24,25

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