In my previous series, "The Anatomy of the Gospel", I broke down the Gospel message into five basic components (as an attempt at constructing a helpful witnessing framework) and called them the "Five Pillars of the Gospel". This is the second part of a series of posts in which I will biblically defend each of the "five pillars" I laid out as the fundamental elements necessary to faithfully proclaim the Gospel.
DEFENDING PILLAR 2 – THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN
I Corinthians 15:3 states that Christ died for our sins. The obvious implication here is that we must be sinners if Christ died for our sins. Scripture teaches mans depravity on many occasions - here are some examples:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)
As it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10-23)
Ok, so maybe Paul could say something so brutal to our fragile self esteem, but surely not Jesus . . . then check the verses that immediately follow John 3:16:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 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. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)
Does the natural man know he is a sinner (as Joel Osteen suggests) therefore nullifying our need to preach on sin and define it. Absolutely not. Mr Osteen clearly hasn't visited any prisons recently because if he did he would have found a building full of self professed wrongly convicted people. Indeed the Scripture teaches that "every man proclaims his own goodness" (Proverbs 20:6) and is "clean in his own eyes" (Proverbs 16:2). That he "suppresses the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18) and has a heart that is "deceitfully wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
If we are to teach that Christ died for our sins then we must define what sin is:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)
And how do we come to a knowledge of our sin:
if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." (Romans 7:7b)
A faithful proclamation of the Gospel, therefore, must present men as sinners and bring this knowledge by the use of God's law.
So the law functions first of all to kill me, to end my self creation - all attempts to write my own life movie and reinvent my character. The gospel inserts me into a new script: "alive in Christ" (Michael Horton - Christless Christianity p129).
On Monday I will continue with a biblical defence of PILLAR 3 – THE NECESSITY OF JUDGMENT.
Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1
Go To "The Anatomy Of The Gospel" Series