A Devotion from President Davey
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A man purchased a white mouse to serve as dinner for his pet snake. He opened the lid and dropped the mouse into the snake’s glass cage, while the snake was sleeping in a bed of sawdust. The tiny mouse had a serious problem on his hands; or rather, on his little paws. At any moment, the sleeping snake could awaken and swallow him for supper. Obviously, he needed to come up with a plan of escape. So, what did he do? He quickly set to work covering the snake with chips, until the sleeping snake was entirely covered with sawdust. With that, the mouse apparently thought he had his problem solved. The only salvation for that little mouse, however, came from outside the glass cage. The owner took pity on the little mouse, reached into the cage and rescued the mouse from certain death.
Religion is like piling wood chips upon sleeping judgment. Mankind knows it is in deep trouble and serious danger.
The truth of Romans 3:23 has been etched into the heart of every human being.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Not only is this verse well known within the church, but the apostle Paul has clearly provided, in this letter to the Romans, the inspired evidence that the truth of this verse is buried within the heart of mankind.
In fact, man will spend his lifetime trying to come to terms with this message of sin and the implication of imminent danger. Every person asks the same questions:
- How do I deal with guilt?
- What do I do about sin?
- Why do I have a sense of coming judgment?
- Why do I feel an emptiness, even when there are more and more things to fill my life?
- What can I do to bring peace to my mind concerning the afterlife?
- How do I make sure I end up eternally in a good place, instead of a bad place?
- How can I be right with God?
Religions, throughout time and around the world, are nothing more than man’s organized effort to answer these questions. I’ve watched people washing in the filthy waters of the Ganges River in India. I’ve seen or read of others taking sacred pilgrimages, performing acts of penance and self-sacrifice.
They are only covering the problem with sawdust.
The Greeks, even before the time of the apostle Paul, had developed the Mystery Religions. This involved initiations into a spiritual oneness with a god who had suffered death and had been resurrected. That sounds familiar, right?
The initiate who desired to be related to this god had to go through a series of initiations, known as identification rites. When the identification rites were completed, the initiate was, in the language of the Mysteries, a “twice-born” one, or simply put, “born again”.
In one particular Mystery Religion, after the rites were completed, the initiate was given milk to drink, symbolizing their belief that he was a “newborn babe.” Sound even more familiar?
In one graphic Mystery ceremony, called taurobolium, a person came in direct contact with blood. In this Mystery identification rite, the initiate was lowered into a deep pit. Across the mouth of the pit, beams were placed in a lattice type arrangement. A bull that had just been killed by having its throat cut, was laid on top of the beams. The blood of the bull would gush down into the pit. The initiate, in the pit below, was literally bathed in the blood as it cascaded downward. This was considered “salvation.” When the ceremony was over, he was brought up out of the pit, covered in blood, and referred to as, “one reborn for all eternity.”
Without a doubt, the world is looking for spiritual answers. And, in its pursuit of answers, it is exercising great faith in all sorts of beliefs and systems that have elements of truth, but ultimately end up as mountains of sawdust.
I have seen people attempting to cover their guilt by going into baptismal water, piercing their bodies, being nailed to wooden crosses, washing themselves in polluted rivers, crawling up sacred steps on their knees, humming the secret words, praying to the spirits, and gazing at the stars.
These activities are no more effective in producing salvation than allowing the blood of a bull to drench the body of a person in a pit. They are no more effective than covering over our sin, guilt, and judgment with sawdust.
Paul has delivered the truth from God, that true rescue from the cage of sin and death is at the hand of God, through,
. . . faith in Jesus Christ (3:22)
Justification – that the legal declaration of our righteous standing before a holy God – has nothing to do with what we can do. It has everything to do with what Christ has already done.
The term for this is “sola fide,” which refers to, “faith in Christ alone,” as the only One who can save us, independently of our goods works.
The truth is, when you understand the gravity of Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory
of God,” then, you begin to understand the absolute necessity of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.
This devotional is an excerpt from President Davey’s book, What the Cross of Christ Destroys.
Want to read more? Check out the next excerpt in this series.