Our Desperate Need for Wisdom

We, as a people, are in desperate need for wisdom. Our nation is so divided and wounded, yet we continue to behave like a bunch of monkeys flinging poo at one another, then wonder why we are in such a filthy, stinking mess.

Wisdom does not just happen. That is, persons are not simply born “wise.” Furthermore, wisdom is more than simply being smart or correct. There is an abundance of intellectual, sophisticated fools. Washington, Hollywood, and universities give ample evidence of this. Authentic wisdom is substantial and produces certain results.

Consider, and take the following words of James to heart, and think through the applications and consider what is going on in the world around us.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. ~ James 3:13-18

At first read it would appear as if James is talking about two kinds of wisdom, but he is not. He is describing what true wisdom is versus what is falsely so called. Notice, authentic wisdom is substantial in character. The truly wise are good in conduct and meek in spirit. Whereas the false wisdom of the age is bitter, jealous, and filled with selfish ambition.

Now, consider the effects, or results, of these. False wisdom is also false to the truth, and is earthly, unspiritual—even demonic. No wonder it produces disorder and every vile practice. Authentic wisdom, on the other hand, is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, merciful, impartial (just), and sincere. True wisdom produces righteousness and peace.

What are we witnessing today? Do we see civility and reasonable discourse? Certainly not! We see constant mudslinging and strife by persons and groups hellbent on getting their own way, disregarding what is beneficial to the whole. Truth is trampled on and mocked, although we talk about love, peace, and unity. Yet, even genuine love is:

Is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Did you catch that? Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Our society constantly applauds lying politicians and news outlets that withhold or distort the truth—so long as they promote our ideas and agendas. No matter whose reputations or lives are ripped asunder. And we wonder why our nation is in the wretched state she is in?

Going back to wisdom, before James talked about wisdom and the falsely so called, earlier he writes,

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20

Then, later James writes,

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! ~ James 1:1-4

Does this not sound like a description of our country and our world? We are in desperate need of wisdom. But how can we begin to attain it? Before discrediting what I am about to share, consider this: are our methods helping matters? Do our methods not injure a lot of people—even the innocent—and further promote more injustices? Many of us are “wise in our own eyes,” but we are not wise, my friends. This is clearly made evident by the results of our actions. So then, how are we to attain wisdom?

Let the wise hear and increase in learning. ~ Proverbs 1:5

First, we must step back and be willing to listen and to learn.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~ Proverbs 1:7

It is astonishing to me how our society mocks the Christian faith relentlessly, then wonders how our government, schools, and communities are in the conditions they are in. If one mocks or denies love, faithfulness, truth, peacefulness, life, and the like, then he opens himself to hatred, betrayal, deception, strife, death, and the like. This is not rocket science, but it is amazing how such simplicity is overlooked.

My friends, I am showing the way of hope. The principles I am sharing not only work, but are secured on the solid foundation of truth. God offers us His wisdom and Himself; yet, if we continue to resist and reject Him, then we must also suffer the consequences of the law of cause and effect.

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. ~ Proverbs 1:22-23

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” ~ Proverbs 1:29-33

Our scoffing at God and hating the knowledge of Him has not benefited us at all. So why do we hold so tightly to these?

Where Do We Go from Here?

Our country is experiencing wounds I never anticipated, and these are inflicted by her own citizens. I do not think our country has ever been more divided as it is now. What did President Lincoln say, quoting the Scriptures? “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” President Trump cannot heal America’s vexations; however, mark my words, neither can—nor will—Biden or Harris. For how can politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) do so when they are a major part of the problem? How can any of us turn a blind eye to the lies, corruption, and hypocrisy of our so-called leaders?

While “progressives” edit and “re-write” the history books, denying the Christian foundation, and indoctrinate our children with anti-Christian and anti-American teachings, all individuals need to do is research and find unedited writings of our forefathers. Granted, not every father was a Christian, but  they certainly not the immoral monsters many of our university professors teach. But I digress. 

We are living in such tumultuous times. We might be living in an era when God shakes everything that can be shaken. Where do we go from here? Corrupt and deceptive Washington cannot save us, and drunken, immoral Hollywood most certainly cannot. I have been saying this for a long time now, but the only way our nation can be healed is if we turn our eyes unto Jesus Christ in prayer.

Is it not tragic that the very One who taught and modeled perfect love and truth is expelled from the rooms of government, schools, media, and even many churches. The very One who provides the antidote is accused of being the venom? Be not deceived, friends, the corruption in Washington, the growing degradation in schools, the violence in our streets, and the filth propagated through entertainment and media do NOT have Jesus Christ as their source. 

We are told that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, as He cried,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! ~ Matthew 23:37

The people of Jerusalem would cry out for Jesus to be put to death, preferring a murderer to be set free rather than Him. America is making the same mistake, as many would prefer to be impaled and destroyed by their own lusts and passions, than be saved by the One who can heal them. 

If we truly desire genuine unity, justice, and healing of our nation, then we must turn to Jesus. He, alone, is the Savior. The words of the “progressives” are nothing but shovels and excavators digging our graves and that of our nation. Jesus would gather us too. Can we truly afford to resist Him? What has this rebellion produced so far? Nothing good.

“Amen and Awoman”

“Amen and awomen.” Such audacious mockery coming from the forked-tongue of a godless politician, attempting to pray to whom he does not know (this is revealed not only by such childish mockery, but also in stating God as “the monotheistic god, Brahma, and is known by many other names.” Make no mistake, the Creator God is not Brahma (who is one of some 3 million gods of Hindu worship). 

For by [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  ~ Colossians 1:16

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:11-12

This politician attempts to come to the throne of grace flippantly, yet refuses to acknowledge the Holy Name of Jesus—the only one who can mend and heal our nation.

Our nation is entering a darkness she has never known. Believers and unbelievers alike know there is a storm on the horizon and moving our way. So, will mocking the very Source of light going to help the situation? What complete foolishness!

I realize this windbag thought himself quite clever ending his prayer with such profane irreverence; however, let each of us take heed:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. ~ Galatians 6:7

God, indeed, can help us, but we must approach Him reverently and on His terms, not like a stupid middle-school child speaking flippantly to a substitute teacher to get a chuckle from his peers.

Why Study the Word? (Part 3)

For the follower of Jesus Christ, it is important to understand Jesus’ emphasis on the importance of studying the Scriptures. To truly be His disciple, it only stands to reason one will accept His perception of the Scriptures. First, however, a few considerations are in order.

  • The Scriptures read in the synagogues in His day were copies of copies. Jesus trusted   not only the written words of the Scriptures but also the divine preservation of them. 
  • Jesus considered the Old Testament accounts as literal, factual history. That is, He did not interpret the Scriptures allegorically.
  • Jesus teaches that the Scriptures are authoritative, completely trustworthy, and eternal, absolute truth. 
  • Jesus, who is the Word (see John 1:1-3), equates His words to being on par with the authority of the Scriptures.

The following are Jesus’ teachings about the Scriptures.

“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. ~ Luke 24:44-45 (ESV)

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. ~ Matthew 5:18

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. ~ Matthew 24:35

It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. ~ Luke 16:17

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. ~ Luke 24:27

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. ~ John 18:17

We also observe Jesus’ application of the Scriptures in the midst of temptation and spiritual warfare. When He was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus repeatedly referred to the Scriptures. Then, when Satan also quoted Scripture, twisting them, Jesus was able to see through the deception because He had studied the Word (see Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).

This brings us to the third reason to study the Word: the Scriptures, if we build our lives upon them, will give us a secure foundation. Jesus tells us,

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. ~ Matthew 7:24-27

Notice, both the wise and foolish face major storms in their lives; however, it is the wise who have prepared and built on a solid foundation. Friend, is your life being built securely on the foundation of God’s Word?

A Word of Encouragement for Someone Who Needs It

I do not know who this is for, but I feel the need to write this for you. Darkness feels like it is prevailing and the flame of hope seems close to flickering out. I do not know what you are going through—loneliness, bullying, guilt (false or real), financial ruin, a break-up, job loss, excommunication, or something else. Whatever you are going through, you might be toying with the idea of taking your life. While it might not seem like it now, please know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your life is worth the living and you have so much to offer a world that is also hurting.

I am not going to tell you I know how you feel. I can only say that you are not alone in feeling such hurting. A couple of years ago I was in a pit of darkness that I could not get out of. Although I am a Christian minister, God seemed to be a million miles away, leaving me to wither in the darkness alone. I felt friendless and forsaken. It seemed anything I touched was damaged. Guilt, shame, regret, and a sense of failure rumbled like thunder within my mind and soul. I longed to die. I found out later that I was beginning to have a plan in place (to take my life) without realizing it. I came very close to being hospitalized due to severe depression.

In time, light did begin piercing the darkness and God displayed His faithfulness. While all the pain did not go away, I have found there are so many who are hurting too. My friend, whoever you are, please know that you are not truly alone. I hope you will hold on. Light will shine again. All this shall pass. Your life is worth the living. Most importantly, there is hope in the Lord. Look to Him with trust. He will get you through. Also, what you are feeling is not a sign that you are weak; rather, it signifies you are human. Hang in there, friend, you are worth it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Why Study the Word? (Part 2)

Is it not strange that two persons can view the same thing, yet their perception can be polar opposite? Consider the Bible, some see it simply as a book of rules: “Do this! Don’t do that!” Such persons perceive the Bible as being restrictive and fun-demolishing.

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” ~ Psalm 2:2-3 (ESV)

Jesus, on the other hand, declares God’s Word to be the truth, what bears witness about Him, and what sets persons free (see John 17:17; 5:39; 8:31-32).

The prophet Isaiah asserts,

Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples…. And when [the people] say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. ~ Isaiah 8:16, 19-20

Interestingly, while so many do not view the Bible as being of much value (admittedly, even many who profess to be Christians do not devote much time to it), the writer of Psalm 119 devotes the whole writing (176 verses) to celebrating God’s Word, Law, ways, commands, and statutes. In these he finds delight (see vs. 14, 47, 92, 143). According to the psalmist, God’ Word is of immense value (see vs. 37, 72, 127).

Here are sevreal benefits he mentions in his own experience:

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. ~ vs. 50

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. ~ vs. 75-76

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. ~ vs. 92-93

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. ~ vs. 98

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~ vs. 105

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. ~ vs. 130

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. ~ vs. 165

So much of the regrets and miseries people suffer is because of abandoning the truth and protection of God’s Word (I speak out of my own personal experience). People would be spared a lot of pain and shame if they would stop viewing the Scriptures as a killjoy, and rather perceive them to be the loving instructions of a caring Father and Creator.

Why Study the Word? (Part 1)

Spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, Bible study, etc.) are not about having fun and enjoyment but are about transformation, gaining wisdom and discernment, and knowing God. This is a difficult, and sometimes painful, process. For the past fifty years or so the church has tried to compete with the world in entertainment, but take it from one whose obsession was once to be a drummer of a metal band and tour the world, the world will always develop better entertainment and throw bigger parties. However, the world will never excel in love, joy, wisdom, or authentic purpose.

We are told in the Scriptures,

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

We are told to “be diligent” for the purpose of “rightly dividing the word of truth.” If one can rightly handle the Scriptures, he can also wrongly handle them. We are later warned “that in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1, NKJV). What will this look like?

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. ~ 2 Timothy 3:2, 4-5 (ESV)

The apostle Paul tells us plainly that those who truly desire to be godly in Christ will experience persecution of various kinds, while evil men and false teachers will increase (see 2 Tim. 3:12-13). Paul goes on to tell us the benefit and the Source of the Scriptures:

You have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Did you catch these? The Scriptures are able to make you wise, and all Scripture is breathed out by God. The apostle Peter tells us in his second epistle,

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ~ 2 Peter 1:20-21

If our faith and devotion to Jesus Christ is genuine, then we must be serious students of His Word. Paul further warns us:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

I believe we have entered this time of which the apostle speaks, as many who profess to be Christians are downplaying, even bringing into question, the Word of God and following after the whims of their feelings and emotions. Many treat the Scriptures like a great buffet, picking the parts they like and refusing the rest. Or else treating them as if truth changes like styles and trends.

There is nothing inherently wrong with entertainment, fun, or feelings; however, it is too easy for us to waste hours amusing ourselves, yet barely give time to God and His Word. Likewise, it is too easy to be swayed by our own feelings while rejecting God’s objective and absolute truth. No, being diligent in studying His Word is not always fun, and it does go against our sinful biases. Nevertheless, as the days become increasingly evil as the Word of God foretells, we must become more diligent if we would become wise and discerning in these perilous times.

Encourage Your Pastor

One of the sad (but true) jokes in churches is that many families will have roasted pastor for dinner after Sunday’s service. However, the pastor who is genuinely called by God and is trying to lead a congregation in the ways of God has a tremendous responsibility. Furthermore, he does so many things behind the scenes ministering to others most are unaware of. Contrary to popular belief, pastors do far more than “just prepare for sermons and preach.” They serve as counselors and comforters, and many are on-call 24/7.

Pastors are not perfect (although they are to be godly). They have feelings and passions. They experience fear, sadness, discouragement, and anger. Many are husbands and fathers trying to be good In these roles (these are difficult for them too), and often people expect their families to be picture perfect. Dysfunction brings their calling, character, and credibility into question.

Pastors must deal with conviction and accountability to God for how they behave and handle the Word of God. They must deal with their own consciences making them aware of their failures and inadequacies. And pastors have “a target on their backs,”  more so than the average Christian, because if Satan can influence them to fall into gross sin and scandalous activities, then congregations can be divided, confounded, and even faith being shipwrecked of some.

I have read of the following statistics:

  • 97% of pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused, or hurt by their trusted friends.
  • 70% of pastors struggle with depression.
  • 1500 pastors quit each month.
  • 10% will retire as pastors.
  • 80% of pastors feel discouraged.
  • 94% of pastor’s families feel the pressure of ministry.
  • 78% of pastors have no close friends.
  • 90% of pastors report to working 55-75 hours per week.

The primary tasks of a pastor is studying/teaching God’s Word and devoting himself to earnest prayer. Christians can say they “love God’s Word,” but pastors make a lot of people mad when they do truly preach God’s Word!

If you have a godly (albeit imperfect) pastor who strives to be faithful to Jesus Christ, His Word, and the Great Commission; and if he seeks to minister to the congregation and is burdened for the souls of people, then you are truly blessed. The Bible says this of such individuals:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. ~ 1 Timothy 5:17 (ESV)

And,

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. ~ Hebrews 13:17

Do you give honor—even double honor—to your pastor? Or do you nit pick his flaws, give him grief because he did not call you on your birthday, and roast him because he preached against your beloved pet sin(s)? If the latter, how is this of any benefit to you? What gain is there in wounding and making the work difficult of one who loves you? Sadly, often pastors pour themselves out (sometimes at the expense of their families) only to meet with continual resistance, roasting, and betrayal from congregants. 

Do you pray for your pastor’s well being? Have you encouraged your pastor (and his family) lately? A gift, a note of appreciation, and the like could be of great encouragement to him. It might even be that needed spark to help him keep from giving up. Encourage your pastor. He experiences the stresses of life and loss, just as you, all the while putting these aside ad he tried to minister to others. The weight and burdens he carries with him you will never understand. He needs your prayers and encouragement more than you can ever know.

Lessons In the Dark (Failure Does Not Have to Be Definitive)

There are times when a person must go through times of darkness. The reasons vary, but sometimes darkness comes as a result of immense failure. Such was the case for the man of God Samson.

Before he was even conceived Samson was ordained to be a deliverer for the people of Israel. By the Spirit of God he was granted incredible strength and valor. His life was to be holy and consecrated to the Lord. Yet, when we read the account of Samson in the book of Judges, we read of a man who squandered his privileges (even having sex with a prostitute [see Jud. 16:1]), and who took his abilities for granted. This squandering eventually cost him dearly.

Samson later falls in love with the woman Delilah. The lords of the Philistines convinced her to seduce Samson and find where his strength came from. After three failed attempts, Delilah pouted and reasoned, “How can you say you love me if you are not willing to tell me your secret?” Being beguiled by the woman, Samson shares his heart and what was not to be revealed. After he falls asleep, Delilah cut Samson’s hair and the Philistines rush in to subdue him. We then read the dreadful words,

And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. ~ Judges 16:20 (ESV)

For so long Samson took his privileges, anointing, and victories for granted he was oblivious to the fact the Lord departed from him. He was to experience such profoundly humiliating defeat. After rushing on him, the Philistines gouged out Samson’s eyes, put him in shackles, and imprisoned him at the grinding mill.

Samson was alone in the darkness of his blindness, yet it was here that he had time to reflect, grieve, confess, and listen. He was learning hard lessons of squandered privileges, of pride, of immorality, etc. Yet, among all these lessons he would also learn of God’s grace and faithfulness. God would yet hear Samson’s prayer and grant him a major victory. Centuries later he would be named among people of faith:

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. ~ Hebrews 11:32-33

Perhaps you have tasted the bitterness of failure and experiencing its painful consequences. May you take courage in the Lord and find some peace in His promises. Due to your folly, may you listen to the instructions of the Holy Spirit and gain some wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~ Proverbs 1:7

Your failures do not have to define your identity or your future. Consequences might be devastating, but they do not need to demolish hope if you will be still in your darkness. Turn to Christ, and listen to His Spirit. Confess your sin(s), admit your guilt, and own up to your failures. There can still be mighty victories won through Him.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light. I have sinned against the Lord. And so I must endure his anger, until he comes to my defense. But I know that I will see him making things right for me and leading me to the light. ~ Micah 7:8-9 (CEV)

Why the Message is Often Ineffective

It would seem as though the Gospel message is losing its potency here in the West, but let us not be deceived. The Gospel is just as powerful as it has always been, but it is people’s tampering with it that weakens its effectiveness. People are told that God “loves us as we are” (implying there is no urgency to respond or change). And behaviors and attitudes the Bible declares as sinful are often passed by as not really being all that bad, let alone sinful and evil. Mind you, I am not talking only of the supposed “big” sins of the world, but the cradled sins in the church too (e.g., pride, presumption, idolatries, apathy, desire for control or prestige, etc.).

Oswald Chambers notes, “There must be a sense of need created before your message is of any use.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is very useful and relevant, but how can it be received as such when many would-be messengers state otherwise? Or put it this way: why do I need a Savior if I can simply come as I am, I’m loved as I am, and my disposition(s) are not bad?

Indeed, we are loved. And we are to come as we are (we can come no other way). However, we are to come with repentance and an expectation to be changed by God’s transforming grace. Our pride, gossip, lying, hypocrisies, idolatries, immoral thoughts and acts, drunkenness, blasphemies, etc. are all bad—really bad.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. ~ Isaiah 59:2

For the wages of sin is death. ~ Romans 6:23a

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. ~ Revelation 21:8

Jesus states, 

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. ~ Luke 13:2-3

Elsewhere He says,

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. ~ John 3:18-19

We tend to think we are “good” because we have not done this or that, yet we think nothing of the way we have spurned God’s holiness and rejected His ruling over our lives. We pride ourselves in not killing anyone, but oblivious the hundreds we have wounded by our razor-sharp tongues. We do not see ourselves as idolaters, all the while refusing to bow to the authority of the King of kings and to His eternal Word.

Consider also the ingratitude and sense of entitlement of our society, and the way these reflect in people’s perception of God.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened…. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. ~ Romans 1:21, 24-25

The message of the Gospel, indeed, is powerful, but God’s love can only be appreciated when it is not taken for granted. Grace is amazing only when we realize our depravity and helplessness. Jesus will only be adored when we realize our sinful passions keep us enslaved but He has come to set us free. The Gospel is not simply spiritual vitamins. Rather, it is radical heart surgery.