We had a pretty fun discussion last night at SNT.
On short notice, in an rather unorganized fashion, I taught about the human condition, Judgment, and Christ’s redemption. (Audio might be posted shortly)
I discussed the concept behind Robin Hanson’s Homo-Hypocritus theory . Although Mr. Hanson teaches it from an evolutionary perspective, I have taught a similar concept from a Christian perspective before several times before. In a nutshell, People want a firm social standard, so that they can judge other people, but they want to conform to that standard just enough that they can’t be judged themselves. Maintaining the illusion of conforming to the social norms while actually skirting the boundary is a lot of work – and Mr. Hanson contends might explain why social urban humans developed bigger brains than less social agrarian humans.
Dropping all of the evolutionary theory, I think Mr. Hanson’s observations about human nature are accurate. I think we see this in the church as well. We want to be saved, we want to be part of Christ’s family, but we don’t want to be too “Jesus Freaky”. As a result, we have a whole bunch of Christians who circle the what they think is the perimeter of the sheep pen, rather than flocking to the Shepherd in the middle of the pen who loves them. We naturally want justice for everyone else, but grace for ourselves and those who we love. It is easy to be willing to at least appear to conform to the social norm, but it is much more difficult to truly love the standard. When the standard is Christ, this can have some pretty dire consequences.
Hypocrisy is a natural part of human nature.
Romans 1 describes how we “Suppress the truth” and ignore the obvious in order to build a reality that we can be can feel okay in. We tell ourselves that our sin is okay for many reasons. We justify our actions based on our circumstances. We spin God’s word in such ways that allow us to believe the parts we don’t like don’t apply to us. We do good things in order to try to balance out the bad things that we want to do. In short, we deceive ourselves into believing that we are “good enough” people.
Isaiah 28:15 describes such things:
Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
So in our fallen state, we construct these massive realities of lies, convincing ourselves that we are okay. The problem with lies is that they are not true. We can believe the lies for a while, but periodically and painfully reality always manages to destroy our pretend world. If you step off of a cliff, it doesn’t matter whether you believed in it or not, the result tends to be a panicked fall followed by an abrupt and painful deceleration. Thus it is with our sins. Sins have consequences. It really doesn’t matter how we numb ourselves to the pain of our sin, our sin still is eating away at us.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us”… it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” I don’t know about you, but this Judgment is a very humbling thought for me. Everything I have done in my life, laid before me for me to give account, No excuse will work. The truth always clear, no blaming, no denying, no embellishing – Not only will I see the bad things I did, I suspect I will see the effect my actions had on the rest of God’s creation. The damage I did, and I will know that it is all mine.. Yes, the good stuff will be there too, but I suspect it too will be very humbling. Often we drive up with a tanker truck, hand out a single glass of water, and think we are “Good”. For every person we help, there is most likely 20 or 30 that we totally ignore. I think we tend to define being good as “not stepping on the neck of somebody who is in our way”, and I doubt that God judges by the same rules we judge ourselves. In the whole scheme of things, I don’t think our good deeds will be terribly impressive to God… Scripture assures us that it won’t. It is like dirty rags or garbage. This is why the Romans 14:11 tells us “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” – Morning my morning, by day and by night, we shall have to live in the truth of who we are and what we have done. “Sheer terror”, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
As Doug Wilson teaches:
Hell may be defined as the existential state in which a self-constructed reality would be most in demand and would be, at the same time, most impossible. The promise of delusion would be infinitely valuable; the ability to be deluded would be at an infinite distance. The worm does not die.
Anyway, Christ’s death on the cross allows us to drop the self delusion and quit living the lie. We can plead guilty to our sinful nature. Christ accepts our confession and bears the penalty for our sin. He is the cornerstone that is going to survive the terrifying torrent of truth described in Isaiah 28. It is okay to die. We can celebrate the death of our lying deceitful made up facade of a self, Living in an imaginary world designed (poorly) to numb our pain and we can start being the real person living in the real reality that God made.
Once you have embraced the truth, it is okay for the lies to die. It is okay to die to self. We become a new creation, rooted in the foundation of who Christ is, and what he has done.