I think it’s safe to say that all of us, whether we’d admit it verbally or not, have some sort of hope in ourselves. We know that we are bad, sure, but not that bad. At least not as bad as that other guy I know. Let’s see what the Bible says about the condition of man and just how far we have fallen.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, But the end of it is the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12
We are deceived. We have a way, a course, a will which seems right in our own eyes. We think that our plan and our path will lead us to joy, peace, and life, but it only leads to death. We have no hope in determining the right course of our lives. In ourselves we are utterly unable to find the way which leads to life. We are deceived and headed towards death.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And it is incurable; Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Our heart is first and foremost deceitful. It is full of corruption. The analysis that the Bible gives of it is incurable! We think that we have some flaws, but over time we will get better. This is a lie. Our condition is fallen beyond repair. Our heart cannot be patched up any more than a man in the grave can be resuscitated. Our heart is deceitful and incurable.
“For all of us became like him who is unclean, And all our righteousnesses are like a soiled garment; And we all wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, carry us away.” Isaiah 64:6
Our righteousnesses are like soiled garments. The Hebrew word literally means a used, menstrual rag. Anything that we do that we deem righteous is as good as a filthy rag. According to God’s evaluation, regardless of how righteous it may seem to men, no deed that we do exceeds this appraisal. All our righteousnesses are like dung in the eyes of God.
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks it out of his own possessions; for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44
Our father is the devil. We were begotten in sin. Sin is the “life” and essence of Satan. He is the father of lies and the source of all evil. In Adam’s fall, sin entered into man. In essence, Satan entered into man’s flesh. This is the reason for the personification of sin in Romans 5-7.
Sin, as the embodiment of Satan, entered into man (5:12), and now reigns (v.21), lords (6:14), deceives to the point of death (7:11), and dwells within man, causing him to act against his own will (7:17, 20).
This is why we are likened to the children of Israel in John 3:14, who were bitten by the “fiery serpents” (Num. 21:6). In the garden, the serpent of old, via the tree of knowledge of good and evil (or the tree of death in contrast to the tree of life; also affirmed by its bringing in death), injected his life into man instead of God’s life that was in the other tree(c.f. Eating God).
Our father is none other than the devil himself, who is our life, willing, head, and shepherd unto death.
“And you, though dead in your offenses and sins, in which you once walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit which is now operating in the sons of disobedience; among whom we also all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” Ephesians 2:1-3
We are not good. We have no good within us. We are by nature children of wrath. Our ways may seem right, but we are deceived. We may think our heart isn’t that bad, but it is beyond cure. We may think that our good at least outweighs our bad, but even our good only measures up to used menstrual rags. We may think that at our core, deep within, we are all children of God, but man’s real father is the devil.
Man is fallen beyond hope. This is where God’s multifarious wisdom is properly able to be expressed. He will do something to such a fallen creature. Something beyond anything we could ever conceive!
Sorry for the tone of this post, but my next one will show what the end result of God’s salvation of man is, so I figured I’d make it clear where we are at the start! We must see how fallen and hopeless we are “in order that now…the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known” (Ephesians 3:10).