Bible Order: Psalms 104–105
Chronological Order: 2 Kings 5-8
New Testament Only: Acts 7:24–53
He Grew Proud, To His Destruction
Have you ever asked or heard the question “why do bad things happen to good people?” I have heard a number of pastors give good answers to that question and I believe they were accurate, but as I read today’s scripture another thought comes to mind. What does it mean to be a “good person”? Good by whose standard? When we say “good person” we mean by man’s standard. We believe that the individual has done more good than bad. You know there is a pretty common belief out there that you get to go to heaven if you’ve done more good than bad. I don’t know where people get that but it isn’t from the Bible.
There is no cosmic penal code of sin that gives more weight to some than others. There is no cosmic calculator that tabulates the debits and credits of every human life. Paul reminds us that by God’s standard there are no “good people”.
Romans 3:9-10 ESV
“…For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;”
He goes on to say:
Romans 3:19-20 ESV
“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
There are no good people in God’s sight. He saves those who accept forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ because, while He is absolutely just, He is also absolutely merciful. You cannot earn your way into heaven. No one is good enough. But what about Christians? We are cleansed by the blood of Christ so why do bad things happen to us? To get a good answer to that question we would be better served reading C.S. Lewis and any number of great preachers of today and the past but I can tell you this. Jesus told us we would have a hard time in this world and I don’t know why anyone would expect to have a trouble free life in a fallen world. When you live in a sewer you should expect things to stink.
Let me ask you this; after you accepted Christ, did you continue to sin? I did. I feel terrible when I sin but I’m afraid I have to keep turning to God to confess my sin and ask for forgiveness. When I sin I am going to suffer the consequence of that sin. I may be forgiven but trouble is always going to follow sin. I bring all of this up because once again we see a king of Judah who starts to walk with the Lord only to walk away. What I found fascinating was this verse:
2 Chronicles 26:16 ESV
“But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.”
God had blessed Uzziah as a natural consequence of Uzziah walking in the ways of God. Unfortunately, as so often happens, God’s blessing went to Uzziah’s head. Once God made him strong he grew proud and started to think the rules didn’t apply to him. He decided he could just waltz right into the temple and burn incense to the Lord even when God’s law stated that only the priests that were the descendants of Aaron could do so. The natural consequence for his sin was leprosy. Leprosy, as I’ve mentioned before is an allegory for sin and its effects. Leprosy is a wasting disease that eats away at a person. Their flesh stinks and blackens as it rots on the bone. In biblical days there was no cure for leprosy just as there is no cure for sin.
Sin makes our lives stink and rot about us. There is no cure for sin. “Wait a minute Bill, what about the blood of Jesus?” Well of course God can cure you. When I say there was no cure for leprosy or there is no cure for sin I am referring to what man is able to do. God can cure anything including the decay that comes from sin. The disease that found its way into Uzziah’s life was pride. Pride is simply an off-shoot of the seed of sin; self-centeredness, a desire to be our own god.
Why is it that we can walk with God and know that our blessings come from him, and yet grow proud to the point of our own destruction? I’m noticing a trend over the past few days with the men who start out walking with God only to fall away. They fall away as they get older. I believe it is because they start to take God for granted. They start believing their press; that somehow they are responsible for their blessings rather than God. This is tragic. It means that their walk has atrophied.
The word atrophy is instructive:
1 : decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue also : arrested development or loss of a part or organ incidental to the normal development or life of an animal or plant
2 : a wasting away or progressive decline : degeneration ?the atrophy of freedom?
The body of a person who has lain in a coma for an extended period of time will see their muscles atrophy. That is the muscles will begin to waste away from lack of use. You ever hear the term “use it or lose it”? There is validity to that phrase both in the physical realm as well as the spiritual realm. Have you ever gone through a period in your life where you aren’t reading your Bible, you aren’t praying, and you aren’t having fellowship with believers through regular church attendance? If you have, did you feel God’s presence in your life? I have done all of the above and the answer is no.
I allowed my spiritual life to lie in a bed of spiritual coma; my spiritual muscles wasting away. Are you aware of how they castrate a bull? There are a couple of ways but one is to place a very strong rubber band around the scrotum above the testicles. This rubber band shuts off the flow of blood to that appendage and over time is withers and drops off. I don’t mean to suggest in this analogy that you can lose your salvation. Jesus tells us that He will lose no one who has been placed in his hand. In our analogy of the bull, however, we see that the bull doesn’t lose his life in the process of castration but he isn’t whole and I’m sure he is missing out on the fullness of life he once enjoyed!
This is why Jesus tells us that we must remain attached to the vine, Him. The rivers of life flow from Him through hearts surrendered to Him. That water wells up and flows out from us to others and brings them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When we detach ourselves from the vine the water dries up. A branch cut from the vine dries up. When we detach ourselves from God, from Jesus Christ, we dry up. Sin is like the rubber band on the bull. It cuts off our circulation. It cuts us off from God. Don’t walk around like that guys. You’ll be missing out on too much!
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 5/20/10)