Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 2:34 pm
The Messenger, November 23, 2011
By CAMILLE KENDALL
Special to The Messenger
Last week, we saw that God’s Law requires us to love God with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37- 40). Yet we concluded last week’s article with this summary from the Heidelberg Catechism: “I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.”
Why the great disparity between God’s command to love and our personal inclination to hate?
Question 6 of the Heidelberg asks: Did God create people so wicked and perverse? Answer: No. God created them good and in His own image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness, so that they might truly know God their creator, love Him with all their heart and live with Him in eternal happiness for His praise and glory. While God spoke the rest of creation into being — earth and seas, plants and animals — man is distinct in that God lovingly hand-crafted man’s body and then stooped to breathe His very breath into him, giving man a living soul. God created man and woman in His image, beautifully designed to love their Creator and to reflect His glory.
God “made man a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). No, people are not one specimen in a long chain of highly-evolved animals (and No, dogs/dolphins/fill-in-the-blank are not “people,” too). Man is the crown of God’s creation, the image-bearer of God Himself.
If man’s beginning was so very glorious, then why are we so incapable of knowing and reflecting God in the world today? Question 7 asks: Then where does this corrupt human nature come from? Answer: From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve in Paradise. This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners — corrupt from conception on.
In Paradise, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil provided Adam and Eve an opportunity to demonstrate their love for God through their on-going obedience to His command to not eat this one fruit. They were free to obey or to disobey. They chose disobedience.
We call this the Fall, with a capital F. Not only did Adam and Eve sin, thus bringing upon themselves separation from God, death and God’s curse, but they brought the curse of sin crashing down upon all of Creation. Guilt, fear, pain, futility … all of creation has been groaning ever since under the weight of this burden (Romans 8:18-25).
And what of man, the glorious crown of God’s creation? Adam and Eve became broken image-bearers at the Fall. Their very nature became warped. This warped nature has been passed down generation after generation, like some genetic abnormality, so that we possess a corrupt nature from the point of conception (Psalm 51:5). Not only do you and I choose to sin, like our first parents, but we are born sinners.
Kevin DeYoung writes in “The Good News We Almost Forgot,” “Our fundamental problem is not bad parents, bad schools, bad friends or bad circumstances. Our fundamental problem is a bad heart. And every single one of us is born into the world with it.”
“OK, I’ll admit I’m not perfect,” you may say, “but I’m not as bad as all that. Sure, I make mistakes, but I do a lot of good things, too.” This brings us to Question 8 of the Heidelberg Catechism: But are we so corrupt that we are totally unable to do any good and inclined toward all evil? Answer: Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.
True, you are not doing only bad things all the time. Even unregenerate sinners help feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, etc. And, no, you are not as utterly evil and wicked as you could be. But you and I are totally depraved. What this means is that our sinful nature permeates all of who we are and all of what we do.
A friend explained total depravity to me this way: Imagine that you bake a pan of brownies, and into the batter you stir a spoonful of cow poop. Now, when the brownies come out of the oven, there will be much that is “good” about them — they are gooey and chocolately, and they look and smell delicious. They may even taste delicious. But anywhere you slice it, the pan of brownies is corrupt. Filthy. Blech.
Man was created perfect and sinless. Through the Fall, we became sinful and totally corrupt. None of us seek after God, choosing instead to pursue the evil intentions of our sinful hearts (Genesis 6:5). Even our “good” deeds are polluted (Isaiah 64:6), because we aim to please ourselves rather than to glorify God.
Yes, it really is as bad as all that.
Yes, unless we are born again, by the Spirit of God.
Unless … a glimmer of hope on this dark canvas!
(If you have questions or would like to comment on this article, you may do so online at http://graceunioncity.com/resources/gcc-in-the-news. Scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your comment.)
Editor’s note: Camille Kendall, wife, homeschool mom and redeemed sinner, is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.