I used to run with a group of boys who were a mild terror to our neighborhood. We made a sport of finding an unsuspecting house, going up to the door, knocking on it, and then high-tailing it out of there as fast as we could. From a distance, we would watch some man or woman look this way, then that way, and then go back inside and close the door. When we were particularly mischievous, we would continue with the same victim in this fashion, until the risk of getting caught was too high. We would watch anger and frustrations rise, movements became jerkier and more emphatic. Sometimes they would yell out, “You better cut it out, or I’m calling the cops!” We also would steal For Sale signs from the front lawn of houses. We had collected dozens of them and hid them in the brush behind our neighborhood.
Why did we do this? There was no logical reason. The For Sale signs were worthless to us. We had nothing to gain, aside from the sheer entertainment of infuriating people. Yet, our hearts basted in the pleasure of these menacing acts. We loved to do them, repeatedly. Saint Augustine similarly pointed to the irrationality of sin. Sometimes sin just enjoys sinning and needs no other reason why. Sin exposes the painful truth that we rebel against behaving the way we were designed to.
God created us in his image (Genesis 1:27). The Hebrew word translated “image” means to represent something. Humanity was created to represent God’s righteous rule on earth. When we fail to represent God’s goodness on earth, we fail to fulfill our purpose. This is a crude example: what if you built a cupboard out of wood to store your drinking glasses, but the wood so severely warped that the glasses fell over and shattered one another. The cupboard would be worthless. It would be good for nothing but fuel for the fire.
Because of our warped hearts, we need to be saved by another, less we destroy ourselves. Martin Luther recognized this need to be saved by another. He was consumed with pleasing God, desperately trying to purge sin from himself. His tortured soul was unsuccessful. This image of God, which humanity desecrated, can only be restored by an almighty act of God. “By Grace you have been saved…and this is not of yourself, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8),” said Paul. Take a moment to thank God for this gift that comes by Grace Alone.
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