The human condition

dna2.gifMany great works of literature such as Crime and Punishment, Macbeth and the Tell-Tale Heart explore the truth that no amount of rationalization will drive away guilt.  This works on big and small sins.  And as Romans 1 points out, rejecting God is a big sin.

All people sin, and they know it.  This leads to guilt, which leads to fear of being punished.  Sin ==> Guilt ==> Fear.

There are three main options people choose to deal with this fear:

  1. Outward denial of God’s existence, ranging from ignoring him to “in your face, God!” words and actions.  Because if there is no God, then there is no eternal judgment.
  2. Make up your own religion
    • Pick the rules that are least tempting to you.  Convince yourself that these are the ones that really count and that you are a good person for obeying these rules most of the time.
    • This will ultimately fail because deep down you know it is your own creation.
  3. Accept what Jesus did on your behalf and have forgiveness of your sins and reconciliation with God.

P.S. Here are two things that didn’t happen when I became a Christian:

  1. No one said, “I told you so!”
  2. Humbling myself to admit I was a sinner and not in charge of everything wasn’t as bad as I feared.  In fact, I knew it deep down all along, so it was refreshing to be honest about it for once.

15 thoughts on “The human condition”

  1. There is one exception to your reasoning. In previous days, we would have called him the “psycopath”, that term is no longer used in elite circles. The DSM-IV (the offical handbook for mental health) uses the term “anti-social personality disorder”.

    A psycopath (I still use the term) is “a condition characterized by lack of empathy or conscience, and poor impulse control or manipulative behaviors.” (from Wikipedia).

    These people do not fear and do not have guilt. They can kill, rob or otherwise treat badly an individual with no remorse. I have a theory that these people are possessed by demons. (Think of Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer).

    Demon possession doesn’t get a lot of recognition today, at least not in cultural elite. But I think it still occurs and it fits these people. This doesn’t mean the demon possessed should escape punishment. The law is the same for the demon possessed as it as for the “regular” criminal. But it does shed a new light on their actions.

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  2. Neil,
    Very good assessment of the situation. I remember back in the 1990s, running across a bunch of East Coast students who were all convinced that they had to be vegetarians to be good people. It may still be going on. But what I noticed most about it was that they were very self-righteous about it. To them, it was their act of righteousness. For me, I ordered another cheeseburger. 🙂

    Randy,
    Excellent point. I agree with the law still applying to those who are demon possessed. They had to go down the road to become that way, as Romans 1 indicates, God eventually hands the sinner over to more sin and wrath. I would think that would open many up to demon possession as well.
    Blessings

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  3. Timothy,
    I agree that God eventually hands the sinner over to more sin and wrath, but I’m not sure I’d say that out loud. Think of the young boy who was posessed in the Bible (I think it was the one where the demons went into pigs). He had been that way since a young age. There’s no indication that his possession was due to his sins. Your statement is true, but could be interpreted to mean “all those who are demon posessed brought it on themselves.”

    We conservatives are often accused of being judgemental and often our accusers are right.

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  4. Timothy,
    I agree that God eventually hands the sinner over to more sin and wrath, but I’m not sure I’d say that out loud. Think of the young boy who was posessed in the Bible (I think it was the one where the demons went into pigs). He had been that way since a young age. There’s no indication that his possession was due to his sins. Your statement is true, but could be interpreted to mean “all those who are demon posessed brought it on themselves.”

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  5. And if God tarries, there are people who will take matters into their own human, fallible, sin-stained hands and turn others over to more sin and wrath — to Satan himself, even. As if.

    And self-righteousness is rampant among those who believe, whatever they believe, if they think they have everything down pat.

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  6. Hi Randy,
    Yes, it is not something that is often taught for fear of bringing the wrath of unbelievers, skeptic, reprobates, etc. But the Bible does teach that. Think of the passage in Hebrews 6:4-6, which I happen to be preaching upon this week, makes it clear that there are those in the body who know the faith, taste the benefits of it, but eventually turn a walk away from it.

    Probably bit strong to say they are demon possessed. AS for the child, not sure what was going on. I’m not saying that these things always happen. But it can and does happen. Those who grow up in the faith, can fall away to the point that there is no coming back for them. Yet, we don’t know who they are, and we still pray and hope that the Holy Spirit will bring them to repentance. Yet, we must acknowledge that Scripture makes it clear that there are those who come to the point of repentance being impossible, i.e., Pharaoh, Judas Iscariot, etc. I would like to think they are the exceptions, not the rule… but I just don’t know.
    Blessings

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  7. “Yet, we don’t know who they are, and we still pray and hope that the Holy Spirit will bring them to repentance. Yet, we must acknowledge that Scripture makes it clear that there are those who come to the point of repentance being impossible”

    I agree. I think what Randy’s concern is (and I say this from MY perspective onhis statement…not wanting to speak for him) , that we sometimes come off as though we know who is beyond repentance. My response to this would be that, yes, people can easily misrepresent Christians by making definitive statements about an individual’s salvation, or chance for salvation. This does not mean, however, that people don’t need to hear that grizzly truths of the Bible.

    I think Timothy made a good point awhile back in his own blog (forgive me for referencing something that may be old news to some…I’m only recently “branching out” in this little community of bloggers:) ) about how some will claim to ignore or “hate” God, but not really understand what they’re doing. Then there are people who have spent their entire lives with a sound knowledge of God, yet do the same thing…that is the real blasphemy.

    Hopefully, if I butchered Timothy’s point or made it unclear in any way, he can further or better qualify it, because I think it’s quite apt.

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  8. “There are three main options people choose to deal with this fear”

    As someone who spent the better part of his earlier life practicing the first two, I can honestly say that there is never any satisfaction from these choices. I found the more I dared or cursed God, the more he made me look towards myself…not exactly a guilt free reflection. When I tried my own way, I took from my family’s Catholic roots. I made sure my good outweighed my bad and even went so far as to apologize in advance, like the old Mobster in confession joke I heard once…”forgive me Father, for I WILL sin…”
    I was still unsatisfied. I could do whatever I wanted and was pretty sure that God was alright with it since I had built up my credit, so to speak. If he wasn’t telling me “you’re wrong!” then I must have been right. Still…the guilt.
    So one day I finally go to my buddy’s church and listen to the “Jesus pitch.” Long story short…I’m sold on option 3!

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  9. The child I was speaking of was the one mentioned in Matt 17:14-18. The boy had been possessed from childhood (according to Mark 9:21).

    There is no evidence that this boy had ever been given the chance to show his faith.

    So demon possession can come from those who have turned away from God, but also can come to a child. The reasons for the later are subject for another post, another time.

    My original comment was to show that (while I believe Neil is right most of the time) there are those who sin and do not know it. Or maybe they know it and feel no guilt. I believe these people are psycopaths and I believe that (most of them?) they are posessed.

    But I want to be very careful calling someone possessed. I might say that to a believer, but I’d couch it with a lot of caveats. God hasn’t pointed out demons to me.

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  10. When a person is possessed by a demon, I don’t know of any help for them except a Christian casting out the demon in the name of Jesus. I haven’t seen much of that lately.

    God hasn’t pointed out any demons to me either, but what if I am not looking.

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  11. ER and Mark,
    I’m not saying that all situations are demon possessed. I’m not even sure I can tell you which ones are. I’m convinced demon possession occurred in the past (The Bible says it, I believe it). I’m personally convinced it still happens.

    Neil’s starting point was that people feel guilt for the sins they commit. My statement was that some don’t. They have no conscience. I wonder how many of those are demon possessed.

    Someone made a comment that God sometimes turns sinners over to there sin. I agree, but I don’t think that accounts for 100% of the psycopaths in the world. Some are just born that way.

    Mental health issues are real and should not be confused with any of this. But I don’t think medical science can account for all of these issues either.

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