Driving up this morning I was listening to the teaching Pneumatic Man by Alwyn Zoutendyk which “Pearl” recently posted on her blog Be Thus Minded (see “Links,” above). In that teaching Alwyn talked first about the natural man—the unregenerated, or "unsaved" man. He talked about the wisdom of that man and how it is foolishness to God, and how it is inspired by the devil. He comments on how the natural man would rebel to be told his wisdom was inspired by the devil, and cry out, “What? Impossible! Why I’m a moral man, upright . . .”
Driving, I had a lot of time to think about his comments. I remember so well my rebellion, anger, and resentment when I first heard that, according to Christians, I was a sinner. I honestly can’t ever remember lying to my parents, or taking part in many of the things others were that were clearly “bad” (alcohol, drugs, etc.)—I was a “good kid” and to be told I was a sinner was offensive. I remembered the times I have wrestled with my faith, picturing all the “good” people in my life—family, neighbors, etc.—and struggling to picture them in Hell forever.
I understand, now, as a Christian, with the Holy Spirit’s help, just how hopelessly short of God’s holy place I fall. I understand, now, the darkness that tears around in my heart and hovers all too close to the surface. I understand, now, the amazing love of God who, knowing that by giving me choice I would fall in all these areas, still gave me choice and died in my place, paying for my choices, in the supreme gift of love. I understand, NOW . . .
But, BACK THEN . . . from the other side . . . without that understanding . . . it is truly an offensive message. I thought about the “good” people we all know—those who reject the Gospel, but who love their wives, who treat others kindly, who help the poor, who donate their time, who . . . fill in your own blanks. From their eyes, or through the eyes of a Christian not anchored in an eternal viewpoint, it is very hard to see how a the devil would inspire people to do good. In fact, it seems a total contradiction to our faith to attribute any good to him (or the comment conjures up scenes from the Exorcist and they think we are saying they are possessed in the vein of that movie).
But, eternally . . . I don’t think the devil cares if a person does a few good deeds in this life if those deeds contribute to their belief that they are a good and moral person—not a sinner in need of a Savior. In fact, if good deeds in this life could keep a person from the cross and eternal life with God, then I think the devil would inspire a mountain of good deeds.
There is so much we will only understand through eternal eyes. If we put eternal blinders on, and look solely upon this life, we will fall prey to some real traps. We must remember, I believe, that our eternal life began when we were born again. It doesn’t wait for us to get to heaven. We become alive to God, eternally, at that moment of conversion and we don’t die, we simply “move” and change our abode from earth to heaven. Through God’s eyes, I believe, He sees eternity laid out and He makes His decisions based on eternal consequences. The devil is playing for eternity for people as well.
But, to the natural man, all of that is foolishness . . . and I understand them feeling that way—I did once, too, and I hope I never lose the compassion and understanding remembering those days, and what I felt like back then, bring me. I can't grow cold to, or get hardened by, the reactions of the unsaved to the message of the Gospel. My own feelings or pride for a brief moment pale in comparison to eternity for a soul. We must, I believe, never, ever forget—each and every person in our life is a person God loves deeply and has given His life for. If we fail to love them, we have failed to love Him—and the kind of love He calls us to love with is often very, very costly to us.