Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Hardened by Sin (Psalm 14)

"The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works; there is none who does good" (Psalm 14:1).

When man rejects true religion and denies the very existence of God, moral decay is sure to follow. This psalm probably refers to a desolate and disordered period in Judah under the reign of Saul, but David’s words encompass more than just the nation of Israel. The Apostle Paul applies this psalm in Romans 3 to the moral depravity of all unregenerate people.

David writes, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” The Hebrew word nabal not only signifies a fool but also a perverse, contemptible person. When people cast off the fear of God, they overthrow all order in their lives. They no longer can distinguish between right and wrong. Their minds become dulled by wickedness as they suppress the truth.

“Whatever right knowledge God instills into them,” Calvin says, “they partly stifle it by their malice against Him, and partly corrupt it, until religion in them becomes torpid and at last dead. They may not plainly deny the existence of God, but they imagine Him to be shut up in heaven, and divested of His righteousness and power; and this is just to fashion an idol in the room of God.”

As men replace the truth of God with idols, their lives become a morass of wickedness. This is important because too often we expect reformation in people’s lives separate from their submission to God. Counseling programs are formed, social movements set in motion, all trying to reform man without true religion. But it is only when men submit to God, recognize His truth, and humbly bow before His authority that their lives will conform to His standards. There must be a cognitive change before there can be behavioral changes. Too often we put the latter before the former.

Fallen man has rejected God. Until God changes a man’s heart and enlightens his mind, causing him to worship his Creator and submit to His ways, natural man will not change but will only exchange one delusion for another. “The effect of the habit of sinning is that men grow hardened in their sins, and discern nothing, as if they were enveloped in thick darkness,” Calvin says. Only by the grace of Jesus Christ can that darkness be lifted and true reformation begin to take place in people’s lives.

In what ways do various secular groups try to reform man’s behavior outside the context of faith? In what ways does the church try to do the same? How have you done this as well? Endeavor to bring all your ideas under the authority of God’s truth.