At one point or another in our lives, most of us get to face some critical health moments. Something isn’t right; we don’t feel well. So we go to the doctor or the emergency room to discover the underlying problem and gain some relief. We may have an expectation as to what is going wrong. The diagnosis may prove to be minimal compared to our concerns, or it may be something even beyond our worst imagination.
Several years ago when I had the one and only hospitalization of my life with the pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the lungs), I underestimated the situation. The doctor walked in and began with those words you don’t want to hear, “Well, I’ve got some bad news for you.” I never once suspected what was actually happening. But the good news was that it didn’t kill me and the worst was over; it was just a matter of recovery.
Spiritually speaking, our diagnosis is very, very bad. In fact, it is as bad as it can get. We have inherited at the moment of inception a deadly condition for which there is no natural cure. There is nothing we can do to fix the problem that will result in our physical death and eternal separation from God. Yep, it’s bad.
As we wrap up this final week of our “Him Alone” series about the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Spirit, we will be talking about how to truly know God. And to know Him we need to recall the grand story that spans from eternity past to eternity future. And we will do so by making five divisions, beginning today with creation and the entrance of sin.
Creation: God Creates / Man Sins
There was a perfect once-upon-a-time beginning to God’s Big Story. We read in Genesis 1, on the 6th day, God made the animals and finally man as the pinnacle of creation …
Genesis 1:28 – God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” … 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Things were as good as they could possibly be. After all, you can’t beat perfect.
But you can mess up perfect, especially when Satan is involved. You know the story of the fall of man into sin, and everything changed. A curse of death was pronounced on all; and at the end of Genesis 3, man is driven out of the Garden …
Genesis 3:23-24 — So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
So how bad is the situation? Very bad. As bad as it can be. Man is destined to struggle all through life in a cursed environment, die physically, and be spiritually separated from God due to the debt of sin. This truth is picked up and spoken of throughout Scripture.
Psalm 14:2-3 — The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
This passage from Psalm 14 is quoted in Romans 3 at the final, decisive point of Paul’s argument about the lost condition of man. Paul wrote graphically of this as well to the Ephesians when reflecting on their condition prior to knowing the gospel …
Ephesian 2:1,3 — As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins … we were by nature deserving of wrath.
Dead is bad … very bad. It is not just a sickness from which recovery is possible. There is no life. The only hope is resurrection, and dead people can’t make that happen for themselves.
Why is it important to understand this clearly? Let me suggest two reasons that come to my mind.
- Evangelism – There is an old saying about evangelism that you have to “get a person lost before you can get them found.” Think of those you know who scoff at the notion of God and a Savior. They have no sense of need. They errantly believe they are self-sufficiently in a good position. And until a person realizes they are lost, they will not reach out for a map or check the GPS system.
- Appropriate Gratitude – When we realize that biblically and spiritually speaking we were truly lost and dead in our sins, without God and without hope, we rightly realize that we did not find God, He found us. He chose us so that we could choose Him. The extent of grace is beyond our imagination, just as was the lost condition we faced … but all of that is a part of other portions of God’s Big Story.
In that second chapter to the Ephesians, Paul reminded these mostly Gentile readers of the extent of their lost condition …
2:11 – Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
It is good for us to remember how lost we were.