“Do you know what it’s like to be on death row for FIFTEEN DAYS?” he asked as I cleaned off the dust that had accumulated on my car after a long dry spell. Roman, a neighbor who was always willing to lend a hand, was anxious to talk to somebody and I just happened to be one of the few on our street in Seville not taking a siesta that afternoon. He told me that back in the 1950s a military tribunal had found him and several other Spanish soldiers guilty of sabotage. “I had the death sentence hanging over me for FIFTEEN DAYS,” he insisted again, perhaps looking for sympathy.
I was quite impressed with his story, despite my slowness in responding. Finally, working my way around the car, I told him that “every man and woman who practices sin has already experienced the death penalty in a much more serious way” (Ezekiel 18:4,20; James 1:15). “When man sins, he separates himself from God and dies spiritually” (Genesis 2:17; 3:6,24; Isaiah 59:2). Roman nodded in agreement but immediately shifted the conversation back to his wartime anecdote. As I reflect on the unwillingness of the majority to open their eyes to their true spiritual condition, I’m reminded of our need to see them as they really are. We need to see the world as God sees it.
Progress Versus Ruin
The world sees itself in a state of progress while denying the reality of its spiritual shortcomings. Though it’s true that we have been blessed by advances in medicine and technology, man continues to suffer from the same problem: SIN!
However impressive the world’s progress may seem, God sees mankind in a different light. He sees the world in a state of spiritual ruin. In his “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus told his disciples, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” (Matthew 7:13). The world glories in “building a better tomorrow” when all it has is the shattered, sin-torn lives of countless millions to do the construction work. God knows that no matter how triumphant the world’s accomplishments may appear, its followers will fail to overcome in the final judgment if their lives have not been built on Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:13,26,27; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
EnlightEnment Versus Darkness
The world gloats over new religious experiences that deny the need for the Savior’s blood (Ephesians 1:7) and triumphantly tells us about freedom to live without restrictions, without guilt,… without God.
The world sees itself in a state of enlightenment while denying the reality of its spiritual shortcomings. God perceives things in a very different light. He sees the world in a state of absolute spiritual ignorance. “[God] was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him” (John 1:10). Shortly before His death, Jesus predicted that the world would persecute His apostles “because they have not known the Father, nor me” (John 16:3). Could Jesus have been more blunt about the world’s ignorance of God?
Pure Chance Versus God-given Purpose
The world boasts of scientific discoveries that supposedly demonstrate that life can spontaneously arise from non-life, thus ruling out the need for the Creator. They say that we are the “accidental collocation of atoms” (Bertrand Russell) and the mere by-product of primordial slime.
God has something very different to say about this too. He alone has made heaven, “the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them” (Nehemiah 9:6). Our existence here is not meaningless; we have been created for God’s glory (Isaiah 43:7)!
The world sees itself as the accidental descendants of apes. But God perceives something completely different, something too wonderful for man to behold with the naked eye. When God looks at the world, He looks beyond the flesh, beyond the world’s mask of self-assurance, beyond the world’s claims of enlightenment, beyond man-made social distinctions, beyond race, age or gender, and sees priceless, lost souls, each one of equal worth (Acts 10:34,35). In fact, in God’s eyes, the value of just one these souls outweighs all the world has to offer! (Matthew 16:24).