June 1, 2017
People in every generation often wonder why human society works the way that it does. The great thinkers, philosophers, and theologians throughout human history have contemplated such phenomena. They have offered their own explanations and solutions to the dichotomy between human virtue and human vice. Some of their musings have metamorphosed into some of the great religious and political movements in recorded human history. Yet, all of humanity’s efforts to correct itself seem to have only worsened this ethical schizophrenia in our human experience. Technology, education, political enfranchisement, economic egalitarianism, and spiritual experimentation have all failed to produce the desired resolution to the human quandary.
God Almighty through the prophet Jeremiah declared that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked and rhetorically asked, “…who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Moreover, Jesus Christ echoed this same sentiment when He revealed that the evil behaviors of humanity originate in the heart (Matt. 15:18-19). It would seem, therefore, that the loci of humanity’s problems originate from deep within our kardia (heart-the center of the human spiritual life). This explains why a person can demonstrate acts of benevolence and charity and equally demonstrate acts of selfishness.
The story of Cain and Abel in Genesis illustrates this moral, ethical, and spiritual dilemma. Abel represents a virtuous person and Cain represents the vain person. Abel worships God in the proper way and his offering is accepted by God (Gen. 4:4). By contrast, Cain worships God in an unacceptable manner and his offering is rejected by God (Gen. 4:5). God implores Cain to repent of his attitude but instead he chooses to act out in the supreme act of hubris by murdering the perceived competition for God’s favor—his brother, Abel. Scarcely, nine generations pass before the entire human population is assessed by God Almighty as having a heart in which every imagination was only evil continually [emphasis mine] (Gen. 6:5). This continuously evil heart resulted in the social construct of global humanity as one that was corrupt, of great wickedness and filled with violence [emphasis mine] (Gen. 6:5, 11). The extent and scope of the insanity that characterized the antediluvian world is only now being understood in the twenty-first century through science and technology in the fields of paleontology and archeology.
Thus, in the twenty-one centuries since our Lord’s ministry on earth, we are witnessing similar chaotic circumstances in the global human experience and asking the same questions as the sages in previous centuries. The extrabiblical hope that secular humanism and social Darwinism has offered is now under great scrutiny and re-evaluation within academia. The mounting evidence being collected and analyzed by physicists, mathematicians, and biologists are causing professional scrutiny and re-evaluation of the staunchest foundations of the Enlightenment. It would seem that Christ is confounding the wisdom of the collective human mind (1 Cor. 1:27). Moreover, with the plethora of moral failings in Christian leadership, it would seem that the Lord is fulfilling His promise to begin the judgment of world by first starting with His church (1 Pet. 4:17). Yet, the dilemma of the Human dichotomy remains contemplated, yet unresolved.
Could it be that this duality in the human heart, between virtue and vice, becomes the great unresolved conflict in human history? As the foreboding feelings of a coming human conflagration loom, what shall be said of this generation or the ones to come if the current trajectory remains constant? As the signs of the times crescendo and the resultant morose engulfs the global human mind like an air raid curtain, what shall be said of Christ’s people, who shine in a dark and uncertain hour? However, God Almighty does not leave us without a resolution.
As King Solomon of Israel concluded after all of his hedonistic pursuit in search of purpose, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12:13). The prophet Micah reinforces this thought when he declares rhetorically, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic. 6:8). Later, Christ would also echo these sentiments when he was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matt. 22:36-37).
However, being exhorted to do good to our fellow-man and love God does not seem to resolve the conflict between vice and virtue within the heart of humanity. It only means that virtue should be the focus or emphasis. Christ does not leave this question unresolved. He declares His resolution to the problem in His first public sermon, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mk. 1:15). Thus, the Creator of the Universe, Emmanuel, God with Us, the Fullness of the Godhead Bodily, Christ Jesus, says the resolution to the dichotomy between the propensity in the human heart for virtue and vice is to repent and believe the gospel [emphasis mine]. Moreover, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul provides the imperative, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16).
Therefore, what shall we say then? Shall humanity, in this generation, repent and believe the gospel? Shall those who identify themselves with Christ, as Christians, walk in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis in order to not let sin reign in their bodies? (Rom. 6:12). Is this spiritual standard too much to consider? Shall we heed the inquiry of Moses when he announced to erring Israel, “…Who is on the LORD’S side?” (Ex. 32:26). Yet, as the Apostle Paul reveals, even the creation is waiting for Christ to eradicate the curse of sin which facilitates this dichotomy in the human heart for vice and virtue (Rom. 8:22). Thus, it would seem that the resolution to this tension between vice and virtue in humanity is Christ’s redemption and its result will also solve the environmental problems championed by those who worship the creation rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:23).