The natural man still expects to be like God.
Such is the power of the lie sown in his soul in paradise that all his children are born with the folly in their hearts and minds that they can become “as god, knowing good and evil.” This is man’s basic sin. All the other sins which he commits are the result and fruit of his unending attempt to be god. And it is not simply an expectation which he has for the distant future. The individual sinner may expect the day when the human race has overcome God’s curse,—and thus overcome God,—but every step of his earthly way he says, “I am God.” No, you do not hear him say it that way and in those words. The time will come when he will be bold enough to say that before all men. As we pointed out last time, Paul writes to the Thessalonians and declares that the man of sin, the son of perdition, or antichrist, will exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that He is God. There is a definite development of sin. And men become bolder and bolder in sin as the poison of the lie does more and more of its evil work in the human race. But the individual sinners from the time that Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit have said that they were God.
We do that every time that we sin! Every time we break God’s law, we declare by the very deed that we can do as we please. Is that not a divine prerogative? Do we not then set ourselves up as God? We dare to oppose the one and only true, living God. Who but the man who thinks that he is God himself would even dare to do that? Was that not to be seen in the haughty speech of Adam and Eve after their fall? Adam dared to answer God with the accusation, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” And Eve dared to point out that it was God’s serpent who beguiled her. Very soon Cain dares to answer God as a god, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Such speech does not reveal a heart and mind that stands in His fear and has faith and hope in Him with love. It is the speech of a creature that considers himself to be God’s equal. Love to Him would result in humble prostration before Him in the painful consciousness of guilt before His face.
Since the fall and under the power of that lie, man strives in hatred of that God to escape His curse. Adam and Eve tried it with their fig leaf aprons. We try it in a thousand ways, and, defying the living God, refuse to go to the cross of His Son, where the only salvation from the curse can be found. Who would really be so foolish as to think that he could actually get from under the God-imposed curse? Only a creature that considers himself God’s equal or expects that in time mankind shall be his equal, would even venture out on such a hopeless endeavor. Only a faith and hope utterly void of the love of God would produce such activity.
And so it is with mankind. The expectation of the wicked shall perish; but that does not stop him from going ahead in his sinful expectancy. It does not change his carnal nature. Satan cannot succeed in his devilish plot and program of iniquity. The gates of hell cannot prevail against God’s Church. And one would expect Satan to have learned that principle by now. All his work came to one grand climax at the cross. He succeeded in getting Judas to betray Christ, the Church-council to condemn the Son of God to death, and Pilate to be frightened enough to consent to His death. All seemed to be going His way. He had failed so many times. Herod did not get to kill that Christ-child. No temptation in the wilderness was successful. Even the taunt on the cross that, if He would come down, the multitude would believe in Him did not perform the desired effect. But even in this highly “successful” project, he lost out completely. Christ came into His kingdom through that cross. The sins of God’s people were blotted out. And Christ was taken to be Lord of all lords and King of all kings at God’s right hand, so that He has complete dominion over Satan and all his host. Yet all this does not deter him from going ahead in his foolish attempt yet to wreck the whole Church and devour God’s people. Having faith and hope without the love of God, he simply cannot do anything else. It takes love to God to realize a faith that will believe in Him and His Son unto obedience and fleeing from the folly of sin. It takes a hope permeated with the love of God to expect anything else than the folly of sinful dreams.
How beautiful that passage in Philippians 2:5-11! “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” Paul writes, “Who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Neither did Adam, before Satan came in the form of a serpent. Adam was content to be God’s friend-servant, and the thought of being God and robbing Him of His unique and sovereign position never entered his mind. Satan brought it in through the tongue of the serpent. Christ came in our flesh with a heart full of the love of God. In His pure mind the thought of duplicating Adam’s sin did not arise, not even when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness to receive it into His soul. He had faith and hope permeated by the love of God. No fleshly foolish ideas ever were enter-tamed in His soul. But the soul devoid of that love of God still in its folly hopes for and believes in a state wherein man has escaped God by escaping His curse, and all this without God and the cross of His Son.
It seems even to us,—for our flesh belongs to that wicked world and is part of it,—as though man might make it. Man has come a long way from the “horse and buggy” days. We passed quickly from the jet age to the atomic age and then into the space age. In science and invention, in education and mechanics we have made tremendous progress. In medicine and surgery amazing feats have been performed. Diseases once fatal are hardly feared today. Incurable diseases of days gone by respond quickly to our antibiotics. There is even hope of some victory over cancer and heart diseases. Whereas the King of Israel said of the leprosy, of Naaman, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive?,” today leprosy is no longer looked upon as a fatal disease and as one wholly incurable by man’s medicines. Our homes, clothing and tools are tremendous improvements over those crude instruments wherewith the godless sons of Lamech sought to deliver man from the curse without the cross of Christ. Jabel, Jubal and Tubal-Cain felt the curse and hated God for it. They would not prostrate themselves on the ground before Him and pray for the forgiveness of their sins which brought on this curse. They had no faith in His Son or hope for His Kingdom but a faith and hope that were fed by hatred of the living God. They rebelled against the idea of eating in the sweat of the brow and dreamed of defeating God in His curse. They will climb above the plane to which He had cast them after man’s sin in paradise. Man will make his own paradise. And to a great extent he has attained to the “expectation of the wicked” of which Solomon speaks in Proverbs 10:28.
He can send a payload of several tons into outer space and hit the moon with objects of his manufacture. He can in the literal sense of the word move mountains with his road equipment. He changes the whole face of God’s earth. He streaks out into outer space and circles the globe and laughs at God’s law of gravity. He sees many a sunrise and sunset in twenty-four hours. He seems to have gotten above time and space. O, he is getting there. Every day he is becoming more like God. His hopes soar. His faith and confidence in himself grows. And all of it without the love of God.
In a moment he will show you events transpiring on the other side of the earth and let you hear men speaking on the four corners of the earth. He rivals God in His omnipresence and all-searching eye. At the moment he can bring you today events happening tomorrow on the other side of the international date-line. How big is man!! How far has he not come since that dejected, helpless, ignorant man and woman were driven out of paradise to till the soil without a plow or any idea of what a plow ought to look like, or what lasting material there was of which to make it, and how to mold and shape it! The simple wheel which is so common to us was utterly unknown to him, as were such simple tools as hammer and chisel. One would be inclined to say that to a very great extent we have overcome the curse and attained some equality with this God Who inflicted the curse upon us.
But hold fast to the Word of God! Solomon says that the expectation of the wicked shall perish. It will so completely, that absolutely nothing of his work will enter the new creation. By fire God will destroy all his high and majestic bridges, his towering skyscrapers, his flowing freeways and superhighways, his faster-than-sound fan jet planes and mammoth rockets. All his pieces of art and literature shall go up in smoke. They shall read no Shakespeare in the New Jerusalem, nor study a Rembrandt. Nor even will Handel’s Messiah be sung there. Nothing here on earth can compare with what will be in that place of bliss and glory. And the works of men shall not enter, except the works of faith and hope permeated with love.
All that the wicked have made shall perish. And instead of reaching the expected, they shall attain to the opposite. They shall not get above the curse and be God’s equal. They shall not attain to a state wherein they shall decide for themselves what is good and what is evil without suffering the wrath of God for doing what He calls evil. Read Revelation 17 and Revelation 18 and see how great is Babylon’s fall.
And the wicked will perish with all their works! “Man’s great adventure,” his life apart from and in opposition to God will end in everlasting punishment. He will be plunged into a lake of fire where there shall be no hope of escape and wherein he will no longer trust in self or creatures. He will have no hope of ever having gladness. His expectation, both that which he now expects and his act of expecting shall perish. Great will be the fall thereof! If the love of God is not in his faith and hope, his everlasting future is utter desolation. He may produce the antichrist; but he will be destroyed by The Christ.