Tuesday, 2 December 2014

William Wilberforce 1779: Chapter II Sect III

Section III Corruption of Human Nature - Objection

But we still have this huge problem:

The pride of man is loath to be humbled. Forced to abandon the plea of innocence, and pressed so closely that it can no longer escape from the conclusion to which we would drive him, some more bold objector faces about and stands at bay, endeavouring to justify what he can no longer deny, “Whatever I am” he contends “I am what my creator made me. I inherited a nature, you yourself confess, depraved and prone to evil: how then can I withstand the temptations to sin by which I am environed?” ...”

A just God cannot blame me!” Says the objector.

Philosophical questions of the origin of evil or why God allows its existence and punishes evil doers are too deep for this discussion, but since the above abjection is heard even from professed Christians we must at least answer that.

If the objection were made by an avowed sceptic, we could argue the case but we wouldn't. I mean we could prove his ideas wrong, but might still fail to convince him that we were right. It would be like talking to someone who had never even been to school and launching straight into a proof that Copernicus was right, instead of starting with simple things and working up to complicated ones. In that case the person would get confused, annoyed and reject all we had to say. The sceptic would likely react in the same way if we launched into proving the justice of God. So for the avowed sceptic I would start with the simple truths of Christianity!

However if the objector professes to be a Christian, then they must accept the authority of scripture. I can show from the Bible that a) God is just and good, b) mankind has a depraved nature and c) that this depraved nature is never allowed as an excuse for sin. Jesus said: “...those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” and “The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace” yes, Jesus the messenger of peace and goodwill towards mankind made warnings like this over and over again.

The Bible also warns us not to try to blame God for our sins. “When tempted no one should say “God is tempting me” for God cannot be tempted nor does he tempt anyone.” and “Do I take any pleasure at the death of the wicked? Declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”. Almost every page of the Bible has some warning or invitation for sinners: so don't try to blame God.

The objection is not always as blatant as “God can't blame me: he made me this way”. The same idea lurks in more subtle ways. Like a noxious cloud it lowers our standard of Right and gives us false comfort for our failings. Look, the Bible is clear about our natural weakness; but it never suggests, as these objectors suppose, that this in any way lowers the demands of God's justice. Such an idea is at war with the whole notion of redemption in Christ! Yes our natural condition is depraved and weak; Yes God is infinitely holy; Yet God offers sinners pardon, grace and strength. This is so amazing that of course we can't fully comprehend it. So what! There are plenty of ordinary things around us that we can't comprehend, yet happily use. We must obey the things we can understand that are given us in scripture, and not throw them away just because there are a few things we can't understand. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

What are these objectors thinking! We have this short, uncertain time in which to make our peace with God. Then comes the Judgement. Then an eternity either in heaven or in hell. Yet here they are engrossed in vain arrogant speculations while their lives hang in the balance! It is like a traitor dragged before a fair minded king who might be ready to pardon them, where the traitor instead of asking for mercy just hurls abuse at the king. No, the objectors are worse than that: The traitor might not get pardoned, but God does promise that we will be if we ask for his forgiveness. So these people really have only themselves to blame when they end up in hell.

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