Pollution is one of the most widely discussed problems of our day.
Air pollution has become a menace to all our larger cities and their suburbs. You recognize these areas already from a distance by their yellow, murky haze that hangs over them. Soon you feel its sting in your eyes, its irritation in your nostrils, even before the obnoxious stench penetrates into your consciousness. Imagine what that must mean to breathe that air day after day and even year after year. Newspapers report the intensity of the smog from day to day, and some communities have smog alerts to warn its citizens not to engage in any strenuous exercises during the crucial periods. Reports have it that other countries have the same problem, and that Tokyo has special oxygen booths on the street comers where people can find relief. Various remedies are sought out, but the problem only increases.
And then there is the soil pollution. Farmers are best acquainted with this problem, and are also the most concerned about it. Modem weed and pest killers have done their work well, but have also left their poison in the soil. As a result, certain crops cannot be grown on that soil. And the poison runs off into the streams. Many localities are prohibiting the use of many of these poisons, but the solution to the problem has not been found.
Fully as bad is the water pollution. At this writing a large oil slick is once more moving along the Pacific seaboard. This becomes a rather common experience, but every time it happens marine life is threatened, as well as many miles of beach polluted. In the western States the wild life that threatens the sheep is being poisoned, so that the poison from the decaying carcasses runs into the streams and does its damage there. All over the country there are reports of fish and fowl dying, some species even being threatened with extinction, just because of the pollution of the soil and the waters.
We could even speak of land and sky pollution. In spite of warnings against littering, defiant man strews his beer cans all along the roads and highways. Junk yards are heaped with wrecked autos and trucks. Even the skies and the moon are being littered with trash. Wherever man comes he leaves his stamp of pollution.
And thus mankind is bringing havoc on itself. This is not a mere coincidence, but is the righteous judgment of God against sin. God is not mocked. As man denies God, defies God’s law, and sets himself up on the throne as if he were God, the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth avenges His own Name by giving the sinner over to his vanity. God, not man, has the universe in His power and carries out His own counsel according to His purpose. Therefore He sends man out on a dead-end road. And in the distance we can hear ever more plainly the approaching footsteps of our Lord.
But even so, the worst pollution is being ignored.
For the worst pollution lies in the depravity of man’s own nature. Paul describes the fallen human race as “foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3).
In Romans 3:9-18 the apostle quotes various passages from the Old Testament to prove this very thing. He writes, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Whether we like it or not, this God’s own description of you and me as we are by nature, and of every man, woman and child that comes, into this world, conceived and born in sin.
Jesus raises a finger of warning in Matthew 15:18-20, saying, Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.” Take another look at the warning of our Lord, for He does not merely say that the things that proceed from the heart and come over the lips prove that a man is defiled, polluted. That is true enough, for the tree is known by its fruits. But Jesus warns us that this stream of corruption that wells up out of the cesspool of our hearts actually defiles us. It leaves its filthy stain and wicked influence behind. Sin breeds sin in ourselves and in others.
Therefore Solomon gives us that vivid description of the seductive power of sin. He tells us that the man who listens to the fair speeches and flattering words of a deceitful woman is so captivated by them, that he goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, (can you not just see him go?), or as a fool to the correction of the stocks. Proverbs 7:22, 23. “Till a dart strike through his liver, as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for life.”
The devil is working overtime these days, because he realizes that his time is short and he must still do his worst.
His strongest weapon is the modem pulpit. Who could ever have imagined that the Name of God would be so defiantly opposed and His truth so brazenly trampled under foot? That Book that like an anvil has withstood the hammer blows of opposition for so many centuries is now being struck with blow upon blow as never before. God’s own infallible Word, divinely inspired and given through holy writers, the only real authority and court of appeal, has been degraded into a collection of myths and old wives’ tales. And that even among those who profess to maintain the faith of our fathers, so valiantly maintained in the days of the Reformation! Thousands, even in the church, seek their advice and peace of mind from the worldly-wise Ann Landers, rather than from the Word of God. There is a form of godliness while the power of God and of His Christ is denied. God’s Law is filed away in the attic to collect dust. The word sin is contraband. Who cares to speak of sin, anyway? Man’s frustrations and problems arise from his environment. Someone else is to blame. Maybe the trouble lies in his bringing up. The parents may have been too strict or the church too narrow-minded. Whatever the cause may be, one can rest assured that his pangs of guilt are unfounded, foolish, and can do him more harm than good. Let every one do as he will, as long as he seeks the good of himself and his companions. Let man set up his own standard of right and wrong, but allow him ample room for the lusts and pleasures of the flesh.
And along with this the cross of our Lord and His atoning death are denied. The sole ambition of man is to escape the serious consequences of his adulterous life, of his indulgence in liquor and his drug habit. Poverty, racial strife, warfare and social inequality must be wiped out. Freedom from want, freedom from war is man’s goal, but then above all, freedom to sin.
Pollution, spiritual pollution, downright wicked depravity is excused and condoned. But let the sinner who is burdened with his own guilt and depravity seek his refuge in that despised cross of Calvary. Repentance, rooted in regeneration and manifesting itself in godly sorrow that seeks after God, is still the only solution for every single one of our problems.