Humanity at Its Worst
November 7th, 1965 @ 7:30 PM
HUMANITY AT ITS WORST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-7-65 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. The message is built upon a passage in the eighth chapter of Matthew, and you are invited to turn, with this great congregation tonight, you are invited to turn to the First Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew chapter 8, verse 28, and we shall read together beginning at verse 28 to the end of the chapter. The title of the message is Humanity At Its Worst, and you shall see it here in this passage we read together, Matthew chapter 8, verse 28 to the end, and all of us reading it out loud together:
And when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?
And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine feeding.
So the devils besought Him, saying, If Thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
And He said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts.
Reading a situation like that, “And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus” [Matthew 8:34], not to lay laurels at His feet or to crown Him with love and gladness, but the whole city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw Him, they importuned Him, they besought Him, they adjured Him, they begged Him to depart out of their midst [Matthew 8:34]. That brought to my mind the subject of this message tonight, humanity at its lowest, at its worst, at its darkest.
And when you think of a subject like that, immediately there comes before memory’s mind all of the depths of darkness that this world has known, the days of the antediluvians, before Noah, when God looked down from heaven and the world was filled with violence and blood, and God said, “I will destroy it from off the face of the earth,” how vile and how villainous, how wicked and how iniquitous those days before Noah [Genesis 6:5-7].
Then there comes to our mind and memory of the description of Sodom. For now four thousand years, for two thousand years before Jesus, for these four thousand years, the name of that vile city has become attached to an offensive iniquity that is not named in public; Sodom, the vile and filth of the people of Sodom, humanity at its worst [Genesis 19:4-13]. Or you could describe the awful, indescribable, the terrible, unapproachable evil recorded in the story of the Judges, when Benjamin was almost annihilated because of an unspeakable violence and sin [Judges 19:1-20:48]. Ah, the passions of men, and how low and beast-like they sometimes become. Or coming into modern history, there is the awful blood of the trail left by the Mongolian hordes under Genghis Khan, or the violence and pillage of a Tamerlane who loved to see heads heaped up before him in vast pyramids, or almost in our lifetime the story of the violence of the Turk as he decimated the Christians of Armenia.
Or in our days, to walk around a concentration camp like Dachau and to see what modern men, cultured and educated and refined and civilized and trained and scientific, what modern men can do in violence and destruction. One of the strangest feelings I ever had in my life was in Dachau. I share in so many funeral services, and when I see a wreath, a funeral wreath, it is always placed on a beautiful casket or in a chapel, or the wreath is placed by a tomb or in a beautifully kept cemetery. I just live in that kind of a world. But in Dachau, I was in one of those terrible rooms that contained a vast furnace, and the wreaths were placed in memory of thus a one, loved and beloved, and the wreath was placed on a furnace, not one, not a dozen, I don’t know how many were there, on a furnace!
It just brought to my soul the strangest response, making beautiful floral remembrance wreaths and placing them on a furnace; that after all, there was nothing else and nothing other and nothing left for so many thousands and thousands of members of family by which they could commemorate their beloved dead; humanity at its lowest, and at its vilest, and at its darkest, and at its worst.
But dear people, in all of the annals of violence, and rape, and bloodshed, and murder, and sin, and wrong, I don’t think humanity ever descended to the lowest level as I read here in this story, “And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus” [Matthew 8:34]. The Prince of Peace, the Mighty Father, our Everlasting God, the Glory of heaven [Isaiah 9:6]; and “the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw Him, they begged Him and besought Him that He would depart out of their country” [Matthew 8:34].
You just can’t imagine such a thing. To us, why, heaven is to see Jesus, and we sing of that glorious and incomparable day when we shall see our Lord face to face; heaven is wherever Jesus is. Where is heaven? Wherever the Lord is, there is heaven. But this city, this whole city came out to see Jesus: and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would leave their country [Matthew 8:34].
Well, the background of it is this, on the other side, and that’s always the eastern side, on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, in a country ruled over by one of the cities of Decapolis called Gadara, on that side of the lake, on the eastern side, our Lord with His disciples made a visit. And when they came into that country there were two fierce men. Says here in the King James Version they had devils [Matthew 8:28]. There is only one devil, just one diabolos, just one devil. His name is Satan [Revelation 12:9]. His name is Lucifer [Isaiah 14:12]. There is only one devil, but he has many demons that torment this earth.
I am in time as I prepare these sermons on the Holy Spirit; I am in time going to speak on demonology, the violence that enters the hearts of men, all those unclean spirits that violate human nature.
Well, these men, two of them, were filled with those spirits of violence, and blasphemy, and uncleanness [Matthew 8:28]. And when they met the pure Son of God, the Holy Prince of heaven, they saw in vision, in Him, that awesome day of judgment when they would be cast into the abyss [Luke 8:31]. And when they saw Jesus, they said, “Lord, art Thou come to hurl us into that judgment before that final day and hour”? [Matthew 8:29]. There is a set time of God when there shall no longer be evil in this world, no longer violence, and wickedness, and rape, and murder, and sin, and evil. There is a set time God says, “Thus far and no further.” God says, “To this day and not a day longer!” The angel stood with his foot on the sand and on the sea, and he swore by Him that liveth forever and ever that time shall be longer, that there shall no longer be delay, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God, the mystery of evil is finished! [Revelation 10:2-7]. There is a set time when God shall say not another man shall curse, and not another fist shall be doubled, and not another fang or claw shall tear!
And that’s what these demons were talking about; “Lord, the time hasn’t come yet, and hast Thou come to judge us and to cast us out and be damned before that day?” [Matthew 8:29]. The Lord said, “No, the time has not come. No, not now, but I am come to deliver these men that you have violently reached, and torn, and violated.”
Then the demons made a request,” Lord, if we are to be cast, if we are to be exorcised, then may we go into this herd of swine?” [Matthew 8:31]. And in a way that is known but to God, for the sake, and for the healing, and for the health of those possessed and dreary and violent men, it was best that way. So for their sakes, and that they might be healed and restored, those demons left the hearts and the souls and the minds, deranged and violent, and went into that herd of swine and destroyed the pigs [Matthew 8:32]. And when those who kept them saw what had happened and saw these men healed and well, they fled to the city and told the people in the city what had happened [Matthew 8:33].
You would have thought that the city would have come out and looking at those men clothed, and in their right minds, and healed, and well, and sane, and glorifying God, you would have thought that the whole city would have rejoiced that such power had been given among men. They didn’t think of it at all. They never even looked at those two men. They never even considered that marvelous, glorious healing and deliverance. They never referred to it. But they looked at their pigs, they looked at their hogs, and when they saw that their pigs, their hogs, their swine were lost, they came to Jesus [Matthew 8:34].
You know, I can just see that whole town. Everybody came, says the whole city, everybody came. The teacher came, the merchandiser came, the banker came, everybody came. And I can just see them as they came and as they, standing in front of Jesus, some of them are scornful; “Aha,” they say. And others are sarcastic; “Ha,” they say. And others might have been indecided, but against Him, they say. But most of them were angry and said, “Away with Him.” And they besought Him that He leave [Matthew 8:34].
And the Lord left [Matthew 9:1].
Any such thing as that today? For the sake of pigs, for the sake of swine, for the sake of gain, for the sake of mammon, any such thing as that today? Men would choose mammon above God; men would choose pigs and hogs above mankind; men would choose money above the Lord. Anything like that today? Just the same, just the same, just the same; humanity has a violent, iniquitous, blasphemous streak in it that is as deep, that is as deep as the soul itself.
I remember as a young man going to Washington, D.C., and sitting in the Senate. I wanted to see the great and far-famed statesman from Idaho, Senator William E. Borah. After the Senate was dismissed, after the legislative session was over and I was walking down the street away from the Capitol building, I met him face-to-face. I stopped as he walked toward me, and I looked at him so intently that when he walked past me, I turned around and he turned around and looked at me real hard.
Had I been as I am now, I would have spoken to him and said something to him, and I would have shaken his hand. But you wouldn’t believe it; I used to be very timid and retiring. Oh, I have regretted that! I wish I had talked to that great statesman; one of the greatest America has ever produced.
William E. Borah said when the amendment was adopted, first presented to the states by our Congress and Senate and then adopted by a majority, a two-thirds majority of our state legislatures, William E. Borah said, “God will curse America for bringing back the legalized liquor traffic.” And from that day until this, America has been going down and down and down, and America has become increasingly afflicted with every kind of problem, buffeted on every side in our country and out.
Until that day, America had a story of upward and onward and glory, God-ward. When the First World War was fought, you never saw such patriotism, and you never saw such dedication and such optimism, and you never heard such beautiful songs as they sang during the First World War.
You never heard any song sung in the Second World War. And when you read the newspapers, instead of those great surges of patriotism and visions and ideals, today we are plagued with every kind of blasphemy and treason against our flag, and against our government, and against our nation, and against our people.
William E. Borah said God will curse America for bringing back the legalized liquor traffic.
Why the legalized liquor traffic? For money, for money, for money, no matter that it destroys men’s lives, no matter that it breaks wedding bands, no matter that it orphans children, no matter that it damns the souls of men; money, money, our pigs, our swine, just today as then [Matthew 8:34].
There is a dear mother in this church who has two daughters. They come to see her. One of those daughters is a devout Baptist, a devout Baptist. They are daughters-in-law. One of those daughters is a devout Baptist, and when she comes, the spirit of her life and the spirit of all of her habits, they are beautiful, and consecrated, and dedicated. The other daughter belongs to another communion, and when she comes to visit her mother-in-law she brings her liquor with her, and she places it in those certain spots in the house, and during the day she has her liquor, her drink.
And she sat down one day in the presence of her mother-in-law and in the presence of her sister-in-law, and she proudly said, “I am glad that my church believes in drinking.”
I don’t care what any church says, I don’t care what any hierarchy says, I don’t care what any government says, I don’t care what any law or what any legislature says, it has nothing to do with it, nothing at all! There’s no council, there’s no hierarchy, there’s no legislature, there’s no law under high heaven that can make wrong right. And there’s no way in the world that drinking can be taken away from the debauchery and the blasphemy, and the hurt, and the destruction that it inevitably carries with it, sin and death and destruction, as though a church could make that right.
There are more than nine million men in America tonight who have no control of themselves because of the vicious inroads of alcoholism. Yet, “I am glad my church believes in drinking.”
No right in the earth except God’s right, and Paul said, “If anything I do offends my brother and makes him to stumble; I will not do it so long as the world shall stand” [1 Corinthians 8:13].
The man who hurts is your fine man, your executive. A young fellow walking by, he is not tempted to drink by that drunkard in the gutter, lying in his own filth and vomit. What tempts him is the head of his organization, the president of the great corporation drinks, and the young executive comes along and drinks by his side. It’s the social and acceptable thing to do, and one out of ever nine or ten who socially drink come to the place where they have no power to control themselves against it, and their lives are ruined.
Oh, oh, oh! for the sake of money, for the sake of money.
Isn’t it a strange thing, and, oh, our time is going. Isn’t it a strange thing, isn’t it an amazing thing how Christ precipitates a conflict and a choice in every life? Isn’t that an amazing thing?
You can meet ten thousand people, you can read ten thousand articles or another thousand books or live a thousand years, and things can be judged and chosen and decided, but when Jesus comes, seemingly the whole life is precipitated in a violence of decision.
And it comes to every soul, it comes to every life, it comes to every heart, and it comes to every house, comes to every home. When Jesus comes, what do you do and how do you decide? Well, we can dismiss Him. Isn’t that an astonishing thing? We can get rid of Him. We can shake Him off. We can push Him out. We can reject and say “No!” We can do that!
Why, man, it is the most astonishing thing in the earth! When our Lord came, they could not only reject Him, they could not only say no to Him, they could not only shake Him off, they could not only turn aside, they could not only beseech Him to leave, the departing Christ, not only that, they could spit in His face [Mark 14:65]. Spit in His face. Nay, they could pluck out His beard [Isaiah 50:6]; pull the hair off of His face. Nay, they could smite Him on the head. Nay, they could press upon His brow a crown of thorns [Matthew 27:29-30]. Nay, they could drive nails through His hands and His feet [Matthew 27:35; John 20:25-27]. Nay, they could pierce His heart through with an iron spear, the Son of God [John 19:34], what an amazing thing that we could do to God!
We can do that tonight. We can spit in His face. We can blaspheme His name. We can say “no” to His every appeal, and we can dismiss Him out of our lives and out of our souls. The least little child can do it. The youth, a teenager can do it. Any man or woman can do it. Dismiss Him, the departing Lord. Then what’s left? Jesus is gone, sent Him away, said “no” to His overtures of grace [Hebrews 10:26]. Then what’s left?
Well, for a while, the physician can somehow patch us up. For a while somehow the physician can give us medicines, and we continue. And for a while we can dampen the towel in ice cold water and cool our fevered brow. And for a while there would be narcotics and sedatives to allay the feverish and racking pain; but by and by, the eyes are glazed, and the hands are listless, and the pulse beat dies, and the frame decays. And by and by, nothing is left but for the architect to frame the sepulcher and the painter to come and to whiten it, or the garbage collector pass by to clean it up.
And, oh, the fires of torment and damnation and hell! “Send Lazarus,” cried Dives, “that he may dip even the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame” [Luke 16:24]. What puts out the fires of hell and damnation? Our genius? Is there any alchemist that can bring to pass that miracle of salvation and deliverance?
O, Lord, O, Lord, when You leave, when You depart, You take with You every hope of the human soul, every vision of a life precious that is yet to come. Lord, what we need is the forgiveness of our sins. Nothing but blood can wash us clean and white [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. Lord, we need the grace and the forgiveness and the sympathy and the help that come from Thy precious hands.
What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
[“Nothing but the Blood,” Robert Lowry]
“O precious Lord, come into my heart and into my soul and wash the stain of my sin away. Lord, write my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 17:8, 20:12, 15, 22:19]. Lord, save me to Thyself in heaven. O God, remember me, remember me, remember me.”
I cannot imagine, I can’t conceive, “And the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts” [Matthew 8:34].
Do you do that tonight? “Lord, out of my life, Lord, out of my soul, Lord, out of my home, Lord, out of my heart, Lord, out and away,” and then, remaining in death, in rejection, lost. O God, have mercy upon Thy people and breathe upon this congregation tonight the gift of infinite faith in Thee [Ephesians 2:8], and may souls tonight come, come, come, come to Jesus [Revelation 22:17]. “Lord, it shall not be out, it shall not be away. Lord, it shall be, Come, Master, and welcome.”
“Behold,” He says, “I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in” [Revelation 3:20]. If you open the door of your heart, Jesus will come in.
Just now, reject Him no more,
Just now, your doubting give o’r,
Just now, throw open the door,
Let Jesus come into your heart.
[“Let Jesus Come into Your Heart,” Leila N. Morris]
Do it, on the first note of this stanza we sing, if you are in this balcony round there is a stairway at the front and the back, and there is time and to spare, come. Come, make it tonight, the throng on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, “Here I am, pastor, here I come. I do accept the blessed Jesus in the forgiveness of my sins tonight, and here I am [Romans 10:9-10]. I look to Him in saving faith [Ephesians 2:8]. God, keep me and forever” [John 3:16, 10:27-30]. Do it now. Walk out this door somebody saved. And if we were to die tonight or die in the next day, we’re ready. “Jesus has saved me” [Romans 10:13]. Take Him tonight. Take Him tonight. A family to come, a couple to come, a youth, a child, one somebody you, as the Spirit of Jesus shall plead and shall open the door, come, come. Come, while we stand and while we sing.
AT ITS WORST
I. Low points in the days of the Old
before the flood, days of Noah
annihilation of Benjamin (Judges 19, 20)
II. Low points in modern history
C. Violent Turks
decimate Armenian Christians
D. Nazi concentration
III. Lowest point in human life (Matthew 8:34)
A. Jesus rejected
by entire city
previously healed the Gadarene demoniacs
question Jesus’ timing (Revelation 10:2-7)
2. Their request
to be sent into swine (Matthew 8:31)
angry over their lost pigs (Matthew 8:34)
A. Men choose
mammon over God
B. Tragedy of
E. Borah – America cursed for legalized liquor traffic
daughters, one drinks, the other does not
harm of social drinking (1 Corinthians 8:13)
C. Rejection of
Christ and His salvation
1. If we reject,
what is left? (Luke 16:24)