“And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there. I thought in my heart, ‘‘God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.’” (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17)
“No doctrine of the Bible is as easy to prove as the doctrine of original sin.” When I read those words by Donald Grey Barnhouse, they seemed to leap off the page. Original sin means that left to yourself, with no outside influence, whenever you have a choice, you’ll always choose to do wrong. G.K. Chesterton said it this way: “Whatever else may be said about man, this much is certainly true: He is not all that he could be.”
I’m sure I don’t need to spend a great deal of time debating that point. Something has gone wrong with the human race. No one can successfully deny that fact. We are not all that we could be. And no matter how much we boast of our technological achievements, the story of man’s inhumanity to man always grabs the front page.
Call it what you will—a twist, a taint, a bent to do wrong. Or as the hymn writer put it, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love." Somehow, somewhere, somebody injected poison into the human bloodstream. That’s why, even when we know the right thing to do, we go ahead and choose to do wrong. Deliberately. Repeatedly. Defiantly.
There are many ways we might discuss this truth. We could discuss it in cosmic terms, or international terms, or national terms, or local terms, but I think it’s better to talk about it in personal terms. What do you see when you look in the mirror?
One writer answered the question this way: “There is no man on earth who, if his secret thoughts were fully exposed, would not deserve hanging ten times a day.” My comment is, only ten times? When I look into the mirror what I see is a man who all too often knows what is right but chooses to do what is wrong. And I freely confess that sometimes impulses come into my mind which, were I to follow them, would destroy me, my marriage, my family, my career and even my life. And yet I still think about them and I still sometimes want to do those things.
Who among us would say differently? You think about things—and sometimes want to do things–that you know would destroy you if you did them. And sometimes you want to do them anyway. And sometimes—if we are honest we must say this—you go ahead and do them.
What is it that makes us repeatedly do that which can only hurt us? It is the truth of original sin. We know what is right and yet we deliberately choose to do what is wrong. There is something in us that bends us toward evil. Apart from God’s grace there is no telling how much greater your sin would be.
Lord God, what would I do without the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ? He took my sin, I gained his righteousness. May I never lose sight of that blessed transaction that saves me from damnation. Amen.
Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.