Mere Morality and Fake Holiness
From conception, when the soul takes on flesh, man receives his sin nature, from Adam, by way of his parents (Ps 51:5; Eph 2:3). The person in the womb, being shaped in iniquity is called, “the natural man (1 Cor 2:14).” In his natural state, he is in the flesh, in which dwells no good thing (Rom 7:18).
Natural man has no will nor ability to do good (Rom 3:10–12; 8:7). He is totally dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). His sin nature influences with the authority of a monarch. Sin reigns in the flesh of men (Rom 5:21). While men remain in the flesh, they can produce nothing but sin (Gen 6:5; Rom 3:23). Sin is lawlessness, and men are slaves of sin (Rom 6:6; 1 Jn 3:4).
There is no recovery for dead men in sin (Rom 6:23; Heb 9:27; Mt 25:46; Jude 7). There also is no reversing the curse of death for sin. There is no self-help plan to right standing before God on the Day of Judgment (Jn 5:28–29). When God revealed the Law (Ex 20; Dt 5), He was showing Himself to be Holy (1 Pet 1:15–16). The Law exposes the sinfulness of sin (Rom 3:20). Sin is an affront to God, and natural man is filled with sin. With no will, no ability, and no way of reformation to holiness, man is helpless and hopeless (Rom 5:6; Eph 2:12).
The standard of holiness is established, and the holy life is required of sinners. Man is responsible for his sins, and all will stand before God’s throne to be judged for every deed done in the flesh (2 Cor 5:20; Rev 20:11).
Man has sought out many inventions (Eccl 7:29), including schemes toward morality and holiness. These are inventions of sinful flesh. We often refer to them as, “religion.”
Natural man inherited a debt from Adam, and each man adds to that debt. Religion, whether it includes the notion of deity or not, is the self-generated plan for man to self-pay his debt of sin. Being deceived by the devil, man is unaware of the magnitude of what he owes. He is also ignorant of the unacceptability of his currency to pay his debt in full. It is as if sin pays wages in Pesos and the debt is owed in Euros. It is the wrong type and a grossly deficient amount.
This inability to be made righteous through religion has never deterred men from placing their trust in their schemes. Religion, albeit mere morality and fake holiness, are vibrant, today. The delusion is that sincerity or earnestness are acceptable in one’s failed endeavor to pay what is owed. This is the lie of religion.
The delusion of sincerity is exacerbated by the illusion of holiness. Religion always wears a costume. The only thing real about religion is its façade. Religion is always externally driven. It puts on a show. The plot line of religion’s drama is always fear.
Religion hates God because its adherents perceive God as a brutal task master, who ever threatens the worst punishment imaginable…eternal hell in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14–15). It is as if God said, “Let’s play a game that you will surely lose.” Terrified, natural man pretends to play the game he loathes. He is a loser, and he knows it. He markets himself to others as a winner, however, and this makes him feel good about himself. His religion becomes therapeutic. It is not too far off to say, “Religion is the opiate of the people.”
Reprobates without religion are far worse than those who fear God with hatred. Religion serves as a restrainer of evil. This is part of the providence of God, in preserving the status quo, for the purpose of calling all His elect into the church, for He desires that none of His elect perish (2 Pet 3:9). Evil must be restrained, and mere morality and fake holiness help. All things are from God (Rom 11:36), including this.
Natural man actually needs a new nature. He also needs a new body because the flesh is weak and always at war with the Spirit. Natural man must be made spiritual (1 Cor 2:14–15). Only God, who is Spirit, can transform a sinner into a saint (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 5:17). Only God can pay a man’s debt of sin (Col 2:14). Only God can raise the dead soul to life (Jn 3:1–8; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3). The flesh, however, remains dead because of sin (Rom 8:10).
God’s conversion of His elect people comes by the preaching of His Word (Rom 10:17). That Word is implanted in the sinner’s soul like a seed of life that takes root and continues to grow strong through one’s life (Mt 13:23; Jas 1:21).
Sin’s nature is replaced by Christ’s nature (Holy Spirit). Sin’s reign is replaced by the reign of God’s grace (Rom 5:21). Old things pass away and new things come. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” This is the powerful work of the Holy Spirit (1 Pet 1:3), who grants repentance, and who gives faith as a gift (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Phil 1:29).
The new, spiritual man is a new creation . He is a new creature (2 Cor 5:17). He who began this good work is the indwelling Author of our faith (Rom 8:9, 11; Heb 12:2). It is the Spirit who causes us to know and to walk in Christ (Col 2:6).
A new mind (1 Cor 2:16), a new heart (Ezek 36:26), and a new will (Jn 5:30; 8:28) are infused in the regenerate, by the grace of the Spirit of holiness. With one’s debt of sin paid-in-full by the work of Another (Col 2:14), the Christian is now free to do good and live holy before God (Jn 8:32).
The holy life of the believer is a walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25), who produces the life of Christ in God’s beloved (Gal 2:20). The civil war with the flesh will soon be over. Your day of death has passed, for your soul now alive to God, Christian, and the day of your body’s death approaches quickly (2 Cor 4:16), but you have the indwelling hope of resurrection life (Acts 23:6; 24:15; 1 Pet 1:3).
We give glory to God for doing what mere morality and fake holiness could never accomplish. Failed reformation is no match for the glory of resurrection. God is the only one who can and who does give life to the dead (Jn 6:63), and calls into being that which does not exist…that is, the spiritual man (Rom 4:17). Pray for God to make you a real Christian (Lk 11:13), and only the Holy Spirit can do that!
Spokane Valley, Washington
May 20, 2022