8 Need to be Saved
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Chapter 8

The Need for Salvation

It becomes obvious that Noah's generation did not respond to God's call to repent and be reconciled to him. Our generation is virtually repeating the same error of Noah's day. Our generation is approaching life with no fear of God, yet Hebrews 10 v 31 says, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Everyone, whether we believe it or not will stand before him. So it is crucial for each person to understand God's reason for judgment and his provision for pardon.

In Ezekiel 33 v 11 God's attitude is revealed, "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" God is patiently waiting for you to turn from your self-willed ways. Reading 2 Peter 3 v 9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise (of his return), as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." He is long-suffering and merciful but God's patience is not without a limit. When that is reached it will be too late just as Noah's generation found out.

The Awful Birth of the Self-Willed Man

To comprehend the need for repentance and turning from sin, man must first understand his spiritual condition and standing before God. Genesis chapter 3 describes the severing of man's relationship with God. Adam and Eve were created in submission to God and in a spiritual relationship with God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God their spiritual connection with him was severed. With this rebellion by Adam and Eve they became dead spiritually and gave rise to the birth of the self-willed person. Because the whole human race has descended from Adam and Eve everyone is born spiritually separated from God and self-willed. Everyone is born with a sin nature and under the power of sin. Everyone is born in a relationship to Satan the god of this world. Satan was the first being created who rebelled and became self-willed. God has opened up a way out of this dilemma through offering pardon by repentance, submission and accepting what Christ did on the cross. The other alternative is facing God's judgment yourself and eternal separation from God.

Ephesians 2 v 1-3 says,

Verse 1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead (spiritually) in trespasses and sins;

Verse 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Verse 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation (behavior) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Does man qualify as self-willed, with a sin nature, under the power of sin, and by nature under God's wrath? The fruit of our lives reveal the inner condition of our hearts. God's standards of righteousness reveal if our fruit is good or bad. That is why he gave the Ten Commandments and other scripture concerning righteousness, not for us to try to live up to them but to reveal the power of sin in our lives. One must be willing to face the truth about themselves first, before God's way of freedom and pardon can be seen.

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments were given to the nation of Israel by Moses to reveal God's standards of righteousness. Many of the Israelites stumbled and thought that by keeping these commandments as well as others given in the book of Leviticus, that God would accept them into heaven on that basis. God intended that these standards would reveal their sin and their need for a Messiah or Savior. Romans 3 v 20 says, "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified (declared not guilty) in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

To invent other gods and ascribe to them attributes according to our own understanding is an insult to the one true God. Any attribute that is not true to his real character and true to his revelation of himself in the Bible would be a sin. There are also inner gods which people create by making material success, popularity, pleasure, etc. as their number one priority.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

God says not to insult him by bowing down to an image or idol or picture and praying to it. For anything touched by sinful human hands is a sad caricature of the majesty, holiness, and infiniteness of the "Creator of all things". One cannot mold, carve or paint anything that compares to the true God who holds the universe together by the span of his hand, who knows and sees the thoughts and actions of every human being and angel all at once.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Psalm 66 v 13,14,16 give us insight into this commandment.

Verse 13 I will go into thy house (Israel's temple) with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,

Verse 14 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.

Verse 16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

Part of taking the Lord's name in vain is to seek his help with a vow to acknowledge him before the people afterwards. People have the habit of turning to God as the very last resort. He is at the absolute bottom of most people's list. When God graciously answers their need people totally forget to acknowledge him publicly. Once the crisis is over people continue on their independent unthankful ways.

The other part of taking the Lord's name in vain is not acknowledging that he is the source of everything. He gives life, food, clothing, etc., nothing is of ourselves, it is all given to us freely. To show disrespect to him by cursing and swearing, taking everything for granted and not being thankful to him is a grave insult.

Another part of taking the Lord's name in vain is invoking God's name as one sets about to do some great evil to another human being. God does not want his name associated with any type of unGodly behavior. As such, there is no justification in murdering other people because of different race, religion or philosophical beliefs. We all descended from Noah, therefore we are all one race.

4. Honor thy father and thy mother.

Reviling parental guidance and authority, being unthankful, ungrateful, and showing disrespect is a clear fruit of sin's power. This commandment does not condone the sinful actions that parents exhibit but is setting forth the principle of submission to authority. However, it does not mean blind submission where one is asked to support or participate in something that God would not condone.

5. Thou shalt not kill (murder).

This means a premeditated murder. In Matthew 5 v 21-22 it says that he who is angry with another without cause has already committed murder in his heart and is guilty before God. The sinful nature can hate or express anger against another human being for reasons of competitiveness, appearance, envy, jealousy, a perceived sleight, different beliefs, etc.. All these are the internal fruit of murder.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

In God's eyes only a marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable. All other types of marriages are an abhorrence to God and the fruit of the sin nature. Any sexual relations by a married person other than with their partner is considered adultery. Of course any sexual activity outside of proper marriage bonds is the fruit of immorality or fornication.

7. Thou shalt not steal.

Theft of physical goods, time from an employer and time that should be given to the true God are examples.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Giving false statements in a court of law or making slanderous comments undermining your neighbor's stature in the eyes of another due to dislike, hatred, envy, jealousy, malice, etc..

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, wife or possessions.

The desire to obtain something belonging to another would be a fruit of the sin nature. The proper attitude would be to protect thy neighbor's house, wife, and possessions.

10. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Doing or saying anything you would not want have done or said to yourself would be the fruit of the sin nature.

Because of our separation from God we all have a tremendous amount of selfish love for ourselves. This commandment directs the focus to others and looking out for them.

I have excluded the Old Testament commandment given to Israel to keep the sabbath (Saturday) as a day of rest. During the church age believers meet on Sunday because it celebrates the resurrection. I've replaced this commandment with the "Royal Commandment" given by Christ to "love thy neighbor as thyself".

Let's now move from the more general commandments that reveal the sin nature to more specific evidences found in the New Testament.

Galations 5 v 19-21 says,

Verse 19 Now the works of the flesh (sinful desires) are manifest (seen), which are these, adultery, fornication (sexual acts prior to marriage), uncleanness (one's unacceptableness before God due to moral sins), lasciviousness (sexual excess or indulgence without shame or concern what others would think),

Verse 20 Idolatry (putting religion, career, success, fame, power and fortune etc. ahead of the one true God), witchcraft (occult practices and drugs, see Deuteronomy chapter 18), hatred (inner attitudes), variance (disputes with animosity), emulations (jealous or malicious rivalries), wrath, strife (seeking to provoke and prolong contentious issues, looking for intellectual arguments), seditions (rebellious against authority), heresies (false teaching about God),

Verse 21 Envying (jealous desire), murders, drunkenness, revelings (living to party, self-seeking pleasure), and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things (practice as a general pattern) shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

In 2 Timothy 3 v 1-7 there is a similar description of the power of the sinful nature within.

Verse 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

Verse 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers (derogatory towards God), disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Verse 3 without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers (slanderous), incontinent (not restraining passions or appetites), fierce (easily angered), despisers of those who are good,

Verse 4 traitors, heady (rash, hasty, headstrong), high-minded (puffed up in one's estimation of self-worth as compared to others), lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;

Verse 5 having a form of godliness (religious on the outside but no real relationship with God on the inside, the sinful self still on the throne), but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Verse 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers (various) lusts,

Verse 7 ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (making education and knowledge a god without seeking to know the true God who is the source of all things).

In 1 Corinthians 6 v 9-10 it says "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (gender perversion such as transvestites), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexuals and lesbians), nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers (those who wound with their tongues), nor extortioners, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

In other words the practice of these sins reveal the sin nature and the destiny of those who continue in them. Romans 3 v 19 says that the law of God came in so that all the world may become guilty before God. God has identified all of us as guilty before him and in bondage to sin.

Although these are the more self-evident fruits of the sin nature we must address the religious person who does not readily display his inner nature through overt practices of sin. This would be a person who has embraced a religious system of works. This person believes that the outward keeping of a religious set of rules will provide him acceptance before a holy and righteous God. The Lord Jesus had his strongest words of correction for this type of person when he came the first time. He identified the religion of good works as pride and part of the sinful nature.

Matthew 7 v 21-23 speaks of religious Christianity and reads as follows,

Verse 21 (Jesus speaking) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Verse 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

Verse 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

In Matthew 7 people have been involved in religious Christianity thinking they were on the road to heaven but were in fact on the broad road that leads to hell. Satan and his false ministers (2 Corinthians 11 v 13-15) are great deceivers at counterfeiting real Christianity deluding many who do not want to deal with the inner condition of their hearts. A watered down version of Christianity is very appealing to the self-willed (natural) man.

Let's look at some scripture in John chapter 8 dealing with the Pharisees and the Lord. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of Israel. They held great power over the people and outwardly they appeared to be the most righteous. If anyone was going to heaven the Pharisees appeared to have the inside track. In John chapter 8 the Lord Jesus is in the temple speaking with the Pharisees and the religious Jews.

John 8 v 31-34 reads,

Verse 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

Verse 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Verse 33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

Verse 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (slave) of sin.

The Lord knew about the inner condition of their hearts. He knew they planned to kill him because he threatened their secure and well paid positions in the Jewish society. The Pharisees and the religious Jews were trusting in their physical descendantcy from Abraham and their outward keeping of religious works. They believed that on this basis God would accept them into his presence. They had not been willing to deal with their inner sinfulness. Because they refused to do so, Jesus says in John 8 v 44, "Ye are of your Father the devil."

In Matthew chapter 23 the Lord Jesus gives an even further indictment of outward religiousity without inward reality.

Matthew 23 v 1-6, 27-28,

Verse 1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

Verse 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

Verse 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Verse 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Verse 5 But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries (small leather case containing scripture strapped to the arm or forehead), and enlarge the borders of their garments,

Verse 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

Verse 27 Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness

Verse 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

In verse 3 the Lord Jesus says that the Scribes and Pharisees know what to observe and do but they themselves "say and do not." In verse 4 Jesus indicts them for adding to the Old Testament law their own traditions (633 extra commands). In verse 5 all their works they do to be seen of men. In verse 6 they desire the most prestigious seats in the synagogue (Jewish church) and the acclaim of the people. All their inner motives were selfish and condemned by the Lord as part of the sinful nature. These religious leaders had not dealt with the power of sin in their own hearts and were blind to their need of cleansing before God.

Finally in verses 27-28 the Lord Jesus indicts them for making an outward show of following God but that inwardly they were full of sin and self.

It becomes obvious that to be religious and outwardly good does not mean you are really right with God or have a personal relationship with him. The inner sin nature has to be revealed in order to be dealt with. God can clearly see it but each one of us have to be willing to see it. The Scribes and the Pharisees refused to see their inner bondage which led to religious blindness.

One of the results of the fall of Adam and Eve is that people put up walls around their inner being. They ignore or excuse or whitewash the bondage that is there. They compare themselves to others and try to justify that they are not that bad. However there is no hope before God because the proper comparison is between his righteousness and our own. The Pharisees refused to deal with the inner power of the sin nature in the way God directed and subsequently perished. In their spiritual blindness Satan was able to present a false message of works salvation which led many astray.

In Matthew 15 v 18-20 Jesus said,

Verse 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

Verse 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Verse 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

In Romans 3 v 10-18 the inner nature of man as seen from God's view is summed up. It reads,

Verse 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Verse 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Verse 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Verse 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps (snakes) is under their lips:

Verse 14 whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

Verse 15 their feet are swift to shed blood:

Verse 16 destruction and misery are in their ways:

Verse 17 and the way of peace have they not known:

Verse 18 there is no fear of God before their eyes."

This is the frightful picture that God sees when he looks at the sinful nature within everyone. If you are willing to acknowledge your guilt and need for deliverance from the power of sin, you are ready to listen to God's offer of reconciliation. In Jeremiah 29 v 13 we read, "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." In Isaiah 55 v 6-7 we read, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. God wants you to be pardoned but you must come his way through his provision. He wants you to experience his love and forgiveness.

I remember when I first realized that my standard for righteousness was not other people but God himself. When I began to see God's character and standards I knew I had hopelessly fallen short. In fact I had not even tried to meet God's standards. Isaiah 53 v 6 says, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity (sins) of us all." I had just kept going along the independent self-willed life until the fruit of my sin nature blossomed. It was only the realization of my lost and perishing condition before God that brought me somewhat to my senses. The question of God accepting me into heaven based on anything within me seemed utterly impossible.

Well God does have something to say when one realizes their own bondage and lost condition before him. God points to the cross of Christ which is truly good news. In Luke 19 v 10 Jesus says, " For the Son of Man is come to seek and save that which was lost." God has to make each one of us realize we are truly lost, truly rebellious, truly separated from him eternally and truly on the way to hell. Then when all human hope has been vanquished, he offers the Lord Jesus. When we've given up comparing ourselves to others, or trusting in our own works, God can deal with us. When we acknowledge our guilt and the fruit of the self-willed life as compared to his character, then God can deal with us. When we acknowledge that Satan and his demons were the first self-willed creatures and our inner disposition towards God is just like theirs, then God can deal with us. Isaiah 14 v 12-15 describe Lucifer's (Satan's) list of self-willed declarations in opposition to God his creator.

God has to show us our utter bankruptcy before we will be able to see the cross of Christ clearly. The next chapter will deal with the love of God shown by the cross of Christ.