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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bad Boys of the Bible -- Rage, Ruin, Redemption

This is a daily devotional provided by "TODAY IN THE WORD" a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. The devotional reading for May 1, 2008 is included here. The rest of the series can be accessed at: www.todayintheword.com

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Read: Jeremiah 17:5-10

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23

Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.” That will be our challenge this month as we study the “bad boys” of the Bible. The simple part is identifying the most infamous sinners in Scripture and pointing out what they did wrong; the difficult but crucial task will be relating to their weaknesses and recognizing how we can and do commit similar acts.

What makes this humble caution so daunting is our tendency to imagine a division between ourselves and the really bad sinners. We use words like they and them instead of we and us to describe people like Goliath and Ahab who blatantly opposed God, or like the Pharisees and angry crowds who rejected Jesus. But their sins are not as easy to avoid as we think.

Today's passage tears down the walls of classification built up to distinguish levels of sinfulness in humanity. Verse 9 paints humanity with a broad brush. Some people believe that deep down, we're all basically good people. But Jeremiah teaches here that deep down we are all helplessly depraved. The phrase “beyond cure” in the niv is elsewhere translated “desperately sick,” “desperately wicked,” “hopelessly dark,” and “exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick!” It's hard to put a positive spin on that.

But God does. He holds the cure for our sin. Jeremiah sets up the great division of sin, not between the terrible sinners and the not-so-bad sinners, but between the sinners who rely on their own power and those who put their trust in God to save them.

Dostoevsky claimed nothing was more difficult than to understand an evildoer, and Jeremiah supports that idea completely. Indeed, we can't (v. 9)! We must not depend on an innate sense of morality to save us from evil. Our basic sin nature leads us down the same roads that consumed the worst evildoers. But God understands the heart (v. 10). His Word will reveal our sin, and point us to the cure.

Why focus on bad boys? In their extremes, they reveal the darkness we think we can cover up. This month we'll look at three main groups: those who chronically rebelled against God, those whose lives were destroyed by one critical bad decision, and those whom God redeemed from the depths of badness. Prepare your heart to see what Scripture wants us to learn from these men. It is by His grace alone that we can avoid such colossal failure.

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