Saturday, June 27, 2009

6/27- Total Depravity II

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9)

Calvin: Therefore let us hold this as an undoubted truth which no siege engines can shake: the mind of man has been so completely estranged from God’s righteousness that it conceives, desires, and undertakes, only that which is impious, perverted, foul, impure, and infamous. The heart is so steeped in the poison of sin, that it can breathe out nothing but a loathsome stench. But if some men occasionally make a show of good, their minds
nevertheless ever remain enveloped in hypocrisy and deceitful craft, and their hearts bound by inner perversity

Bernie Madoff deceived people of between 65 to 170 billion dollars. Stars such as Steven Spielberg and Barbara Streisand were duped. Madoff was chairman of Nasdaq at one time, and the sixth biggest trader on Wallstreet at one point. Human trust is an interesting thing. Sometimes we think we can trust because other people are trusting too. But we should even be wary of ourselves. We all have a tendency towards denial and self-deception. We may think too highly or even too lowly of ourselves. Luther said we sin in our best as well as our worst deeds. Because even the best things we do have some flaw- maybe a pride-motivated flaw- we need to look at our accomplishments with humility and gratitude to God for anything good that comes out of them. The glory and credit and honor belongs ultimately to God.
Another sign of our depravity is the tendency to mess things up over and over. It is almost like we are addicted to sin in some way. I remember the pop song, "Woops I Did It Again" that mentioned that the girl knew she was doing wrong, but she kept doing it. Paul said, "The things I know I shouldn't do, those are things I end up doing." God can help us recognize our addiction to sin, which is always the first step of recovery- "Hi I'm ____ and I'm an alcholic."
It really is important that we recognize our tendency to mess things up, to bring problems on ourselves, and that the world around us- including even the best people- can fail us. As Calvin said it is only when we recognize we are sick that we need a remedy for that sickness. The past two weeks I have struggled with allergies and laryngitis. I kept thinking it would go away, but it got progressively worse. It was only when I realized there was nothing my body could do on its own about this that I went to the doctor and got a prescription. In a similar way, we must recognize that apart from God we have no hope. We need to call on Him to help us, guide us, strengthen us in this life.

Calvin’s Prayer at the end of Jeremiah 17 commentary: Grant, Almighty God, that as we are wholly nothing and less than nothing, we may know our nothingness, and having cast away all confidence in the world as well as in ourselves, we may learn to flee to thee as suppliants, and so put our trust in thee for our present life and for eternal salvation, that thou alone mayest be glorified:

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