If you are reading this, I offer you my sincere thanks and I am sending an ongoing request to God to lavish His grace upon you for your willingness to explore the stain of human sin. You may already have discovered that the impetus to raise your own conscious awareness is in itself an installment of grace. In only the second week, my open rates are down over thirty percent as I suspected. This is not discouraging to me. We are not all in the same place and we are not all ready nor capable of seeing into the abyss. For those who have eyes to see and ears ready to hear, I welcome you to a much wider consideration. May God give me the words. A word of caution. Try and let this teaching just be what it is. Resist the urge or need to categorize it or fit it within your existing religious frame. Like Jesus says in Mark 2:2, new wine requires a new wineskin. This will blow apart tiny containers so it’s best not to use them.
No person ever needs to prove the existence of God. Apologetics is not proving the existence of God. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” (Romans 1:19) Apologetics is using the intellect to restore (as far as it can) a mind overrun by deceit. “For although they (all humanity) knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (v.21). Paul’s point is that self deceit is not something which will lead to God’s wrath (just punishment), self deceit IS the punishment. Self-delusion is a punished state of being, imposed by our Maker, by design, it is a veil over our seeing, for suppressing the Truth about God, ourselves and our world. Why do we always insist on reality defined on our terms?
This self deceit takes place within our heart. Jeremiah said: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” It’s important to note that the heart is not our affections or emotional center as is the common understanding. The heart is the foundational center of being from which the intellect, will and affections flow in step. We are human “beings.” That place of being is our ontological center, and the bible calls it the kardia or heart. Look at our world, look in the mirror. How rare it is to find a single soul who knows who they truly are? Seems all humanity is searching for their true self in all the wrong places. We are all fools beginning in a state of a darkened kardia, producing a futile or worthless mind.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts“(v.24). The self-deceit shows up as our inability to correctly appraise our desires or what the bible calls epithumia (over-desire). With no counter-balance (truth) we are compelled by our “over-desires” toward anything which we think will help us find ourselves. This is essentially how we make the trade with the world’s institutions, starting with family, then friends, educations, vocations, locations, religions, governments, etc… We say to each in turn: “If you give me a name and a life, I’ll bow before you and do your bidding.” Each institution bestows upon us a Fake ID in return for our idolatry and we believe we are what it says we are…“because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (v.25). We trade in our True self found in God for what the bible calls a pseudo (translated as lie, but refers to ontological falsehood), a fake ID.
The state of sin is to go through life as a pseudo-kardia, (falsehood in the center of being). This is far more dire than naughtiness. Murder and adultery pale by comparison. Thomas Merton said: “The false self is the only self God can know nothing about” and that is the existential plight of all of us in not knowing who we truly are. “Depart from me I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21). This happens to us because we make countless foolish trades, each worsening our plight, deepening our self-delusion as we make idols of everything which names us. We’ll come back to the importance of name later. Do any of us really know who we are? This framework for sin is absolutely vital to how I will conclude this series. It’s imperative that you begin understanding sin as a state of being, as Kierkegaard would say, it is: “in despair, refusing to be oneself before God.”
It may take you some time to unpack what I just opened the lid on. I will lead you to the most beautiful discovery I have ever perceived, but I cannot do it unless you begin by understanding just how deceitful the pseudo-kardia (false self) really is. We must unearth our utter hopelessness and inability to come out from behind our masks (upo-cryto) and recognize that part (tó meros) as being at enmity with light and truth. John Owen say: “An enemy can be reconciled, but enmity cannot be reconciled.” Paul alludes to the same conclusion when he says: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile (enmity) to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” (Romans 8:7) or “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:17).
The tension between “want” and “should” is the necessary and benevolent friction which allows us to perceive.
Our healing and promised liberation from sin is not a life which is rid of the deceitful center of our being, it is the gradual mortification (putting to death) of the false self, as we put on/ discover our new (true) identity. If we get this wrong, which is very common in modern teaching, we develop a judgmental and critical heart toward the sins of others. The reaction of the Christian world to condemn Ravi Zacharias and to embrace the world’s ethos of cancel culture is precisely the hypocrisy expected from the religious false self. When we understand the deceitfulness of sin, we drop our stones of condemnation for we have no footing whatsoever. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48 to “Be Perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” This is NOT moral perfection. The word “téleios” (genuine, complete, mature, initiated, authentic) means that Jesus is pointing us to the moment when we rejoin God and become real, authentic, a true self before God. Or the way many people say it, “we find ourselves.” And it is in this moment when we discover, we didn’t do the finding; “I was lost, but now am found.”
Found is who we are. Beloved is who we are. Let these replace all of your “I am a….” statements. These identifiers burst from the soil of deceitful humanity as we discover the truth of our Maker, ourselves, and our world.
All spiritual progress is ontological or a discovery of who we are, who God is, and what this world is all about. The spiritual path can take infinite forms, but there is only one “teleology” (telós-end), it is the discovery of ourselves, found transparently grounded in our Maker. This trajectory is personal, corporate and cosmological and it will take your breath away. The beginning is to see ourselves apart from our self-deceit, and to become authentic, real, and united with perfect truth. Tolle tells of a moment when he said; “I can’t live with myself anymore.” It is to deal with reality as it actually is, not as it is for our state of deceit. If you allow this to reframe how you see the world, then you will begin to see how everyone of us is striving, desiring, to find our way home. We all seek the freedom from the sense of lostness, condemnation, suffering, and living hell which is the cry of the true-self tormented under the weight of our self-delusion. Every evil of the world starts here.
As I’ll prove, religion is not and cannot be the answer. Nor is therapy, distraction, anesthetization, or avoidance. The state of the pseudo-kardia is so dire, that if left to itself, it will never ascend from the dark pit which it keeps digging for itself. There is grace. There is purpose. There is beauty in the design. The solution is complete, it’s perfect, and its satisfying. The solution is why they call it Good News.
The problem is that it’s so good that few of us can actually believe it.