Unrepentant sinners are in an utterly diabolical and hopeless situation. Only when faced with the stark reality of their situation will the message of the cross make any sense.
Yesterday I spoke to a group of people at a church about the dangers of cultural Marxism. During the Q&A one fellow asked what the endgame of all this was. I replied by saying that there are two answers that can be given. First, the end being sought by all Marxists is of course the classless society, one in which private property and capitalism no longer exists, and a ‘socialist utopia’ comes about. Dream on.
But secondly – and more importantly, because it deals with the bigger picture – the end is what Satan exists for: he seeks to steal, kill and destroy, as Jesus said in John 10:10. The cultural Marxist war on faith, family and freedom is at bottom a spiritual campaign instigated and led by Satan himself.
Everything God loves and values Satan hates. So if God loves and values the sanctity of life, the institutions of marriage and family, and so on, then Satan hates these things. And he has plenty of his minions carrying out his hatred and warfare on God’s people.
In other words, there is real evil in the world, and there are people fully committed to real evil. I told my audience yesterday that evil people exist who really do hate Christianity, Christians, and everything that we hold near and dear. We dare not be naïve about the reality of evil, and those who are fully committed to it.
But sadly, far too many Christians ARE naïve and clueless about the reality of Satan, of evil, and of the fact that we are in an all-out war. The spiritual war that is taking place all around us is of course manifest at all levels: social, political, ideological, moral, cultural, and so on.
In the light of all this, let me point out this sad fact: One of the great problems of the Christian church today is that everyone knows John 3:16 by heart and can easily recite it anytime, anywhere. But the great majority of Christians do NOT know what the very next five verses say.
To fully be aware of verse 16 while not having a clue what the following verses say is much like a five-year-old knowing how to put a key in the car’s ignition, stepping on the gas, but not knowing what to do next. Nothing but trouble can come of that.
While we can all rejoice in the truth of John 3:16, that God does love us enough to send his only Son to rescue us from sin and self, it becomes a half truth when divorced from the verses that immediately follow. Indeed, it becomes a real distortion of biblical reality.
So let me present to you the entire passage, John 3:16-21:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
The same gospel that speaks of God’s love for mankind also speaks about God’s wrath and just judgment on those who refuse his offer of reconciliation and forgiveness. There is salvation for the one, but condemnation for the other. Both truths must always be affirmed together.
And note that my title comes from John 3:19: “people loved the darkness rather than the light”. Until we get this vital truth into our heads, we will forever be impotent in understanding and dealing with evil, and we will never be well-placed in the spiritual and cultural wars that everywhere exist.
As long as we foolishly believe that people are basically nice, that everyone is really a good guy, and God is quite happy with us all just as we are, we will be of no use for Christ and the Kingdom. Only a fully biblical view of mankind will suffice.
And that view is quite straightforward: while we are all created in God’s image, and therefore of great worth and value, we are also all fallen, and therefore are all grotesquely sinful, evil and selfish. The difference between you and me and a Hitler or a Stalin is only one of degree, not essence.
Those two tyrants gave full vent to their sinful and fallen condition. They were evil men who did evil things, because they preferred darkness to light. But all of us likewise prefer darkness to light. That is our default position, and only the miraculous work of conversion can change us from evil and selfish sinners, to saved and holy saints.