Basic Bible Concepts: 6 The Human Response To Spiritual Anxiety

Transcript of the video

Welcome back to the basic Bible concepts.Today’s concept is going to be the religious or human response to the anxiety created with us that we talked about last time because of our need for God and the lack thereof. When we talk about this, first of all let’s back up and just by way of reminder, we talked about man having an innate knowledge of God and we talked about that in terms of Romans Chapter 1 where we recognize that the Bible says that we know God exists by virtue of creation. But I also wanted to make sure that it was clear that the Bible says that we know about God because God is manifest in us.The Bible says in Romans 1:18-19: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because what may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them. So we see the Bible is very clear that we all have an innate knowledge of God. We have an instinctive knowledge of God and so when we have this instinctive knowledge of God we also are able to understand that we need him.

And so, what is man’s response to this great need that we have? Well, we’re going to talk about this in the context of an illustration of a mama grizzly bear in the woods with her two babies and you are in the forest and without where you’re unarmed and you come across the mama bear, right? What are your responses? Well, the first response might be to run and to hide, right? And then the second response might be throwing your lunch to try to placate him, and the third response may be to rationalize away the presence of the bear. That may sound a little ridiculous but we are going to use this illustration to help us understand the idea that this is the basic tenet for many of the religious responses that we have created in response to our need for God.

 So let’s talk about this. We talked about withdrawing from the anxiety. You know, the religions that basically replace this idea that we’ve sinned against a righteous God who will punish us for our sin with this alternate idea that we can use various withdrawal techniques to achieve peace and satisfaction. For example, by meditation to attain a higher level of existence that is disconnected from the reality that God not only exists, but also that we have a need for him. So that’s kind of the first religious response. And just by way of illustration the Bible talks about in Genesis 3:8, that’s exactly what Adam and Eve did when they had eaten of the fruit. The Bible says they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So they were hiding. and this is one of the responses that we as humans have come up with to deal with this anxiety that we have.That is, by virtue of our knowledge that we need God and that we don’t have him.

Our second response is to placate God. So in this scenario the religions actually acknowledge that there is a sin and that they’ve sinned against a righteous and just God who will punish them. But they attempt to pacify God with some performance or sacrifice. And if you think about the religions of the world,I mean there are so many that fit in this category, where they’re trying to do good works to be good enough for God and to placate his sense of justice. And you know, Adam and Eve actually did this too. In Genesis 3:7 it says: And their eyes were open, they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves loin cloths. So they were trying to hide their sin.They’re trying to hide their nakedness or what they perceived as being uncovered because they knew that they had done wrong. Jesus also talked about this in Matthew 19:16- 22. There was an encounter with Jesus and a rich young ruler. The rich young ruler came to him and said what good thing shall I do, that I might have eternal life? So he knew he had a need, right? He wanted to have eternal life, he wanted to be with God eternally and Jesus said if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. And the rich young ruler said well, which ones? And Jesus said well, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother and love your neighbors as yourself. And the young man says, I’ve done all these things since I was young. And Jesus said, well if you want to be perfect go sell everything you have, give it to the poor and follow me and you will have treasure in heaven. And the young man heard that and he said I don’t think so. And so he was trying to placate God by following the rules he had chosen to follow rather than keeping the entire commandment, which is impossible. We learned about that in The Law of Sin and Death. So Jesus was saying you have to keep all the rules if you’re going to be perfect on your own. You better keep all the rules and of course the rich young ruler walked away. 

You know it’s interesting too, that we think about religions in the world who have done things like sacrifice their firstborn child and try to do all these just incredible things to placate the gods. In Micah chapter 6: 6-7 the author says well, Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the  Lord be pleased with a thousand Rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? And you know that is in so many ways, that sums up the way we try to placate God. by giving him things that we think will keep him either at bay or will reconcile us to him. and we’re going to see why that doesn’t work.

And then the third thing that the human race has done is rationalize. In other words seek to resolve the spiritual anxiety by denying the existence of a righteous and just God who will punish sin. And of course, this is secular humanism. The secular humanist is a person who doesn’t believe in the supernatural realm, believes everything has a scientific explanation. In other words, the belief of the here and now without any concept of the eternal. and so they’re ignoring the reality that God has placed in their heart that we just talked about in Romans Chapter 1. But we need to remember that whether you’re a believer in God or an unbeliever in God, everyone who believes anything, which is all of us, right, has come to that position through a combination of experience, faith, reasoning, and intuition. And so for secular humanists, their God is what they love, trust, and obey, right? It might be money. If your God is money then you’re going to obey the money. You’re going to follow the money. And it may be to the cost of you maybe sacrificing your family. You may be sacrificing that firstborn child for the sins of your soul so to speak.  And maybe it’s beauty. I mean we kind of laugh at the ancients who worshiped Aphrodite. But when you think about it, our culture is so wrapped up in beauty that there are many young women who are bulimic. They have all these mental health issues because they are sacrificing their whole life for the goddess of beauty, so they can be beautiful, because that’s what our culture teaches, right? So secularism has their own gods, right? And whatever controls you, if you’re a secular humanist is your God. And it’s the thing that if it were missing, it would  make your life not worthwhile. So it’s something to think about. You know, whether that is satisfying your desire and your need for God. Is that making you less anxious? And you know,the Bible says The Fool has said in his heart, there is no God. And that’s in Psalms 14:1. 

And as you think about that, you know we laugh about the example of a person denying the existence of a grizzly bear growling in their face, but to deny that God exists and that you have a need for him is I think very similar to that. And you know there’s just no defense, though there are a lot of Christians who claim to know God who also live as if God has no effect on them.

I did that for many years where you say you’re a Christian but the presence of God has no effect on you. So you’re basically a secular Christian. And so let’s talk about this. None of these things resolve our spiritual anxiety. We know that withdrawal for example is impossible according to the Bible. The Bible says in Revelations 20:11-12, and this is the great white throne judgment, that he saw, this is John the Revelator: then I saw a great white throne, and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away; and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And so this is everybody being judged and no one’s going to escape.

There will also be no withdrawal. In other words we know that from reading the Bible, of course when we studied this law of sin and death, we learned this. That placating God is also impossible. In Romans 3:10-12 the Bible says: As it is written, none is righteous, no, not one: no one understands, no one seeks after God. All have turned aside together they have become worthless. No one does good, not even one. And so we know that we can’t placate God and that goes back to his nature and the law of sin death, which we talked about in earlier concepts.

And then of course we know that rationalization is impossible because of what we’ve already talked about. We have the sense of God that he placed within us. And we know from looking not only around us, but also within, and the way God has made us, that God exists. And you know the Bible in quoting Romans 1:19,  it says because what may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them. You know emotionally rationalization is a tough sell for many reasons and I just want to touch on this briefly. You know you think about it and it takes a lot of faith to believe in just that this is all there is. Just the here and now is all there is because something tells us that’s not true. In some other examples, social sciences, you know, may try to tell us what human life is. But think about it. It doesn’t tell us what it ought to be because there’s really no consensus. If there’s no God, there’s no consensus about the meaning of life. And you know science is a magnificent material force but it doesn’t teach us brotherly love. It doesn’t teach us morals. And also, it doesn’t apply to the central aspects of our humanity like love, beauty, honor, suffering, virtue. And so without God there really is no basis for a universal moral responsibility to each other because we don’t have that consensus.

So let’s take the next step. Where does this take us?  If none of these human responses are going to give us the relationship with God, the Bible says that because of the law of sin and death. Sin requires punishment. In the book of Daniel 12: 2, the Bible says, and many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. That is the future you’re going to have. One or the other. And you know, it’s interesting, after the story of the rich young ruler Jesus kind of summed it up and this is in Matthew 19:24-26. And he said, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were astonished. They said, Who can be saved? And Jesus looked at them, and said, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. And so when we think about these different responses, well, what do we have left? You know these were religious responses. They are all religious responses, right? So we compare these to what God offers us. Because where the relief of our anxiety comes from is not by what we achieve but it’s by what we receive. When we ask God to accept us and adopt us and unite with us, not on the basis of a moral performance, but because of Christ’s performance. That is when  we receive a  relationship with God. It is a gift. It’s not based on our past, present or future attainments, but on Christ’s spiritual attainments. You know, on the cross Jesus was treated as we deserved,  so that when we believe in him we can be treated as he deserves. So the sharp contrast between man’s religious response and what we’ve talked about today, and the way God has planned for us to be reconciled to him is what we’re going to talk about next time.

We would love to hear your thoughts about this devotional. Did God speak to you or challenge your daily walk with him? Or is there a topic that you would like Kimberly to cover or expound on? Please share with us in the comments below.

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