Devotional & Reflection

Week 2, Nov 2001

Genesis 6 - Unbalanced Scales
By Pang Hee Hung, Director & Trainer, Ezra Resources

Gen 6:5 "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."

Last week we saw how sin is crouching at our door. External circumstances tempt us. In fact, after last week's reflection, a crouching sin pounded at my door. This week's passage tells us that though we have a freedom of choice to master sin, our internal heart condition is inclined to yield to temptation and sin. Some think that we can weigh good and evil - like on a scale - and make the right choice. Pelagius, a 5th century theologian, thought that man has total freedom to choose not to sin and do good. Thus, Pelagius believed that one has to be morally upright to go to church. However, Augustine thought otherwise. He believed that man does not have total freedom because his natural free-will has been weakened by the Fall. Thus, man is predisposed to sin. His weighing scale is tilted towards sin. Since we are inclined towards sin, we are like sick people - "unable to diagnose our own illness adequately, let alone cure it" (Alister McGrath, Christian Theology, pp. 428-9). This means that we need not be upright first to enter church. Instead, we go to church to see the divine doctor to be made spiritually right just as the sick go to the hospital to be healed. This tilted scales towards sin also means that we cannot heal ourselves. We need outside help. We need the grace of God.

Most modern people are Pelagians. We believe that we are rational and can manage ourselves - thinking we are self-sufficient. We say no thank you to Jesus. But then we wonder why our children do not know right from wrong, and what drives people to extreme to kill others and themselves (e.g. a man killed his wife and child in Malaysia, The Straits Times, 3 Nov 01, p. A14). A Christian said, "I believe that God is deeply saddened by this but for years we've been telling God to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leave us alone?" What can we expect when the entertainment industry said, "Let us make TV shows, movies and music that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex." And we said it's just entertainment and it has no adverse effect. And we said, okay. And then someone said "Let us print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome, down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body." And we said, okay. Then some people said it does not matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And we said it does not matter to me what anyone, including the President, does in private as long as I have a job and the economy is good.

Thus if someone were to ask God concerning the shooting incidents in schools in US, "Dear God, Why didn't you save the little girl killed in her classroom?" God will probably reply, "Dear Concerned Student, I am not allowed here". Sincerely, God. (Source: Adapted from an e-mail).

Reflect: What would I need to do to tilt the scale away from inclining towards sin? What areas of my life would need changing if I allowed God in?

Tools For Reflection: To help us reflect on a passage, we need to review the narrative leading to this passage to derive the overall thrust of the passage. In this instance, the "Fall" of humanity in Gen 3 has affected our "Freedom" of choice and "Free-will". This leads to the "Flood" - a correction by God. We can also look forward into the New Testament to see what God has done to help us (John 3:16; Rom 6:14, 22-23) in our struggle with the sin nature of man (Rom 7:18).