Tag Archives: all have sinned

April 22; Practical Atheism

2 Samuel 22; Psalms 14 & 53; 1 Samuel 26

I love reading God’s Word. I look forward every day to opening my Bible and reading what God says to me. I believe every chapter, every verse, every word is included in these precious pages for an eternal reason.

So when He inspired men to repeat a phrase, or an entire story, I sit up and take notice. I figure God must think there is something there He doesn’t want me to miss.

Today I read two psalms that are almost identical. Sources say it wasn’t unusual for musicians to adapt a song to their own style, much like contemporary artists who re-work hymns to their own styles. But why would God inspire men to include two versions of the same psalm in the Bible? I took a closer look.

Both psalms being with,”The fool says in his heart there is no God.” In reality, these fools are corrupt and vile.

I get that. People who deny the existence of God are flat out God’s enemy. How much more vile can a person be who refuses to acknowledge the Creator? That’s the definition of “fool.”

But the psalms go on and say God is looking for anyone who understands and seeks Him. They say things like, all have turned aside, all are corrupt, no one is good. Not even one.

Now wait a minute. Does the psalmist dare to put all people in the same category as a vile atheist? Even me? Say it isn’t so.

I went to some of my trusted commentators and read what they had to say concerning these psalms. The term, “practical atheism” was a common theme among the writers. Matthew Henry, on page 633 of his Commentary In One Volume, says this:

“Atheists, whether in opinion or practice, are the greatest fools in the world.”

Opinion or practice.

I guess you don’t have to verbally pronounce you believe there is no God. How you live might be expressing the same belief just as clearly.

The psalmists put people in two categories. Fools, and those who understand and seek God. I am reminded that Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. Hebrews 11 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

So I ask myself: Can I be a Christian and live like I’m not? Can I be a Christian and not read my Bible, pray, serve God, love God, and obey Him?

When I think about it, I don’t see anything in the Bible about God recognizing a mediocre, or a half-Christian. Scripture repeatedly tells us it’s all or nothing. If we’re not for God, we’re against Him. We can’t serve two masters.

God must think it’s important for us to consider whether or not we are in this with Him, or we wouldn’t be reading the same psalm twice. A fool says there is no God, either by speaking the words, or by living as though we think there is no God. A practical atheist is no less an atheist than one who proclaims “There is no God.”

So what might practical atheism look like in my life? Putting something or someone ahead of God in my life. Dishonoring God’s name. Not living a life set apart, not making disciples. Complaining, jealousy, selfishness, thinking myself more highly than I should. As I sit here and think about what practical atheism looks like, I come to realize that allowing any sin to exist in my life gives the message that I don’t really believe in God as He is presented in the Bible. Isn’t that what an atheist is?

I thank God for the latter verses of these psalms, and for the Truth of Jesus Christ. Because there was a time when I was corrupt, vile, evil, and lived like I thought there was no God. That is, until I accepted Jesus as my Savior and became His precious child.

Now, I want to live my life acknowledging the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. I want to live my life understanding and seeking Him, loving Him with all my heart, soul, and strength, diligently pursuing Him. I want to recognize sin in my life and repent of it immediately, understanding that God will not tolerate any sin.

What does your life say about God? That there is a God you love and serve, a God who you seek diligently above all else. Or does your life say that you don’t really believe in God even though your words say you do?

Practical atheism? That’s so foolish.

Exodus 8 – Bad To The Bone

I’ve heard it said that humans are born good, that our true nature is good because we are created in God’s image. Bad parenting or some other outside influence results in people turning bad. So when I read in Exodus this morning that God said the inclination of our hearts is evil from childhood, I started digging.

If people are naturally good but are influenced by their environments, why did Adam and Eve sin in the Garden where the environment was perfect and they walked with God? They had every opportunity to remain sinless. If indeed their natural instincts were good, we’d probably all still be living in Eden.

The Bible tells us we are created in the image of God, who is good. Does that mean we are created good? Or does the image of God indicate we were created with the ability to think and reason, with souls that will live eternally? Keep digging.

The psalmist, in 51:5 says he was “sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” That doesn’t sound like he was born naturally good. Psalm 58:3 speaks of wickedness from birth, waywardness from the womb. Paul says in Ephesians says all of us… were by nature objects of wrath.

Let’s think what life would really be like if we weren’t born with a sin nature. Can you picture it? Would it look like 2017? It seems to me if people were born good, the odds would have it that at least a few people would actually grow up sinless. Yet the Bible tells us all have sinned.

If you’ve ever been around infants, I doubt you’ve ever met one who isn’t totally selfish. Their only concerned is about their comfort, their wants. I doubt you can name one child who learned the meaning of the word “No” the first time it was taught them.

There are people and false religions that tell us we are gods, or equal to god, or are good in and of ourselves, that we can tap into that goodness and rise above the evil in the world by our own positivity. And that, my friend, is a belief that will lead you straight to hell. That’s a belief that Satan would love you to adopt for yourself.

Now my thinking may be faulty. But Scripture is not. And viewing humanity from Scripture’s point of view is eternally important.

Scripture tells us all have sinned. (Romans 3:23) There is no one righteous… not even one.  (Romans 3:10) I’ve only scratched the surface of the verses that talk about our natural bent toward sin. We are sinners by nature. Our hearts are wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), our natural man doesn’t accept the things of God (I Corinthians 2:14).

So, my friend. You cannot be good enough to be holy. And holiness is what God demands of us. (Leviticus 20:26; I Peter 1:16) Nothing in you can equal God, or meet His standards. That sin nature in you prevents it. (Romans 7:18)

Enter Jesus. Even before Adam and Eve sinned, then bore children with a sinful nature, God had a plan. He wasn’t about to leave His creation to die without Him. So He voluntarily took on our sin nature, our individual sins, and paid the price Himself so we wouldn’t have to. (Romans 4:25)

It’s eternally important for you to recognize your position before a holy God. You might be a great friend, an honest person, a nice guy. But you still need to humble yourself and accept what Jesus did for you on the cross. Let His holiness be accredited to your account.

Don’t get caught up with trying to convince yourself you are good enough. You just aren’t. And you haven’t been from day one. You need Jesus. I need Him. And we need to let Him deal with our sin nature through His own precious blood.