Is The Root of Our Destruction the End or is there Hope?

 

14th 12 2020

As we have seen Herman Bavinck the master theologian takes us to look at the human situation after the fall but before conversion.  This person is spoken of as the ‘natural man’.  Spiritual death never means according to Bavinck ‘nonbeing’.  God created man gave him a soul and a spirit and they can do all the things anyone can do.  The problem however is that the relationship with God has been broken.  This cannot be fixed by man and no one can fix it themselves.  We are annihilated from God for all eternity and we cannot save ourselves.  Every facet of the person has been affected by the Fall and Bavinck gives many scripture references to show this.  

I went for my long walk today and I was pondering about the situation of the ‘natural man’ who finds himself in the predicament.   One may argue that he/she is not in this predicament because he can do what he wants.  I would say that the world blinds this man/ woman by giving them the selfish desires of their heart.  The natural human is caught in a Bubble of paradise, lost in their thoughts enjoying the things of the world.  As long as God is not in the picture everything is fine.  Humanity can forge its own destiny it does not need a God but my friends there are many imaginary gods and they wear different disguises; You can be too blind to see them.   Materialism, wealth, sensual appetites, to be the greatest.  To be number one.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  So, Bavinck looks at sin in its various guises and obviously I haven’t explained this very well, but you get the idea.

He then gets to the conclusion at the end of the chapter and he has some collecting points for the root of sin.  Before I speak about these points, I need to say that Herman Bavinck did serious research on this before he came to this point.  If you are doing a serious dissertation or something like that, you should read the whole of his chapter.  I just want to share my findings with ordinary people who may like to know more about the subject of sin.  How can we get closer to Christ if we don’t think about where we have come from? For the Christian was also a natural man but by God’s grace has found peace with God by faith in Christ by the Holy Spirit. But now let us look at these points of interest;

The following is found on page 116; Bavincks Ethics; edited by John Bolt

“…, we see three areas in which egocentricity is manifest, in each according to its own facet (as sensual or as spiritual egocentricity), as follows:

1.       Sins that subordinate the creature/material things to

a.       The spirit – possessiveness, avarice, thirst for knowledge;

b.       The body – finery, appetite, laziness;

2.       Sins that subordinate the neighbour to

a.       Conceit, hunger for honour, hatred, anger, defamation, murder;

b.       The body – adultery, fornication, theft, deceit, etc.;

3.       Sins that subordinate God to

a.       The spirit – unbelief, idolatry, blasphemy:

b.       The body – sorcery, spiritism, miracle-working, etc.”

 

Before we start to look at these in closer proximity, we need to understand the language of these collecting points.  Let’s make sure we understand all the words from Bavinck. Some of the words are not used that much but in theology they are important;

Egocentricity = the Self as the centre

Subordinate = in second place

Avarice = extreme greed for wealth or material gain. Oxford dictionary

Finery = expensive or ostentatious clothes or decoration.  Oxford dictionary

Defamation Ruining someone’s name

Conceit = being full of oneself

Fornication = sexual intercourse between two people who are not married

Blasphemy = Using God’s name as a swear word

Spiritism = Attempting to talk with the dead spirits on the other side.

 

So, then the first section is sins that put the human being into second place.  These sins make us in a way less than human.  Being greedy for things in our spirit and wanting to be lazy with the latest and most luxurious clothes at whatever expense.

In the second section, putting the neighbour into second place by being arrogant that we think we are better than anyone else, hunger for honour at the expense of the neighbour, hatred for  someone else, anger aimed at someone else, giving someone a bad name because we get a kick out of it, murdering someone.  Then physical contact for pleasure hurts the neighbour too

Finally, we have the most serious sins because they aim to put God in second place. Refusing to believe in God, setting up things that take the place of God; a football star, rock musician, wealth; Cursing God’s name, the One who created you. Then we have the physical arts of black magic, sorcery, witchcraft and calling to the dead for answers instead of God.

As you can see Bavinck didn’t just make up a list and say here are the sins we are not supposed to do.  He has shown that there are different types of sin.  We can go a stage further and say that the sins we have mentioned above, can be broken at different levels.  Where does this leave the natural person?

We are all-natural people; God gave us a body, a soul and spirit so from that standpoint we are still human.  So, what is it that died in us at the time of the Fall (The garden)?  Our relationship with God died! The very One who created us; It is ultimately God we have sinned against and we have also sinned against ourselves, the world, nature, our environment. 

Even in that sinful state God still had time to take care of the fallen man/woman. The story goes on that he made clothes for Adam and Eve.  Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden not because God is a spoil sport.  This is not the reason! The reason is that if we ate from the tree of life we would have been condemned for all eternity without any relationship with God.  It is interesting that when everything is made new again that we are actually allowed to eat of the tree of life.  We in ourselves are incapable of reaching heaven.  We have proved that by destroying much of this world. Did you know that according to the Guardian there is more man-made matter than vegetation in the world today? This is very scary. We are supposed to be the custodians of the world and we could not even do that right!  All indeed except Jesus have sinned; Only Jesus Christ can save us from this mess.  I am not going down this road for a while yet as I am still following Herman Bavinck and the unconverted Fallen human being.  This is a heavy weight on the soul but realizing that we are sinners, that we cannot save ourselves; that in fact we are helpless; we are on a boat with no rudder, it is only then that the miracle of conversion by  the Holy Spirit in Christ can start to happen.

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