The Abomination That Is Humanity
July 26th, 1992 @ 10:50 AM
THE ABOMINATION THAT IS HUMANITY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-26-92 10:50 a.m.
You are sharing in the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the senior pastor bringing the message. These days are expositions of the Book of Romans, the greatest epistle ever penned by mortal man. And the title of the sermon is The Abomination that is Humanity. It is a presentation of the second part of the first chapter of the Book of Romans. It is a passage that is never read in public. And because of the libertine attitude of our modern day, I have assayed to read it once in a while. But it is a description of humanity, and that will be the message this morning.
We are now in verse 18 in chapter 1 of the Book of Romans: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” [Romans 1:18]. And then follows after that that unbelievable description of human nature and humankind, here by revelation from God. This passage is nothing other than a revelation of the truth of the Lord. First: His nature. What is God like? What is His character? And this is the self-revelation of the Lord God in the inspired and inerrant Word of the Lord Himself. He is a God of judgment and a God of wrath, for the wrath of God is revealed and written large on these sacred pages. Isn’t that unusual in a day when you never hear a sermon on the hell and damnation that faces those who spurn the mercies of the Lord? Then they start off like that. “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17].
“You mean, a loving God would do that?”
“In the day that you eat thereof thou shalt surely die,” and in that day, they died in their souls. And isn’t it strange? A thousand years, the Book says, is a day with God [2 Peter 3:8]. No one of those ancient patriarchs ever lived beyond a thousand years. For the Book says, “The wrath of God is revealed” [Romans 1:18]; thus, the whole book of the old covenant, the Old Testament—the judgment of God falling upon the pre-antediluvian age before the ark [2 Peter 3:5-7]; the judgment of God falling upon Israel and finally Judah [2 Kings 17:13-23, 25:8-21].
Do you remember in the Book of Ezekiel, God took the prophet and showed him what Israel was doing in the secret chambers of their homes? [Ezekiel 8:1-18]. Then, the New Testament: it begins with that same wrath revealed of Almighty God. John the Baptist starts it. Do you remember what he preached? “The axe is laid at the root of the trees. He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire [Matthew 3:10, 12]. And you flee the wrath to come” [Matthew 3:7]. Do you remember that? Do you remember the word of the Lord Jesus? “Do not fear him who can kill the body: fear Him who can cast soul and body into hell” [Matthew 10:28].
Do you remember the theme of the epistles? “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [Hebrews 10:31]; “For our Lord is a consuming fire” [Hebrews 12:29]. And do you remember the Revelation? The last verse, typically, in the sixth chapter: “For the great day of His wrath has come; and who will be able to stand?” [Revelation 6:17]. Not only is the wrath of God, the judgment of God, revealed, but also it is revealed against the object of that wrath. What is the purpose of the judgments of Almighty God? It is against ungodliness and unrighteousness of men!
You don‘t have to wonder what is it that God is wrathful about, and what is it that God is judging. He is judging the unrighteousness and the ungodliness and the sinfulness of men. And as I turn the pages of this sacred Book, page after page, chapter after chapter, verse after verse, the judgment of God upon the unrighteousness and sinfulness of men; in the days of the garden of Eden, in the days of the Flood, in the days of the captivity, in the days of the New Testament, and in the story of humanity itself, the same ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
I pick up the daily paper. What do I read in the daily paper? Seems to me, from the first page to the last, it’s nothing other than a recounting of the ungodliness of men. There, in the city of Dallas, six hundred-five murders last year. The little town in which I grew up had a whole population of three hundred—six hundred-five murders last year! On those pages of the newspaper, rapes; yesterday’s paper said that most of the rapes that are done this day in Dallas are done by teenagers—violent gangsters, young men.
Page after page, twenty-three robberies every day. Oh, humanity! And you go to a store, look in the store—there’s a camera there, and one there, and one there, and one there. I know one store that has twenty-three cameras on the inside of one section. Why? Because thieves—and not only thieves, but impossible employees.
I go to a police station, and the policeman talks to me. And there in the room where he’s speaking to me, there is a harlot, and her daughter is a harlot, too. There are murderers, and there are violent men. This is humanity.
And lest I think our generation is beyond these who lived before us, look at the ancients; Plutarch, for example, a contemporary of Paul, a Greek biographer and moralist: he writes of the tear-stained eyes and the pallid and drained countenances which he saw at public altars. The reason that thing got on my heart was I have stood—the Lord only knows in how many places—in India, and watched those who were calling upon the names of their gods, and their faces were beyond description in agony; pallid. Ah! Seneca, also a contemporary Paul, a Stoic philosopher, he wrote, “We’re all wicked. What one blames on another, he will find in his own bosom. We live among the wicked, ourselves being no less wicked.” Now the literary men of that ancient day and of our modern day—Goethe: “I see no fault committed which I too might not have committed.” Dr. Samuel Johnson, who wrote our first dictionary: “Every man knows that of himself which he dare not tell to his dearest friend.” Thomas Carlyle, hero worshiper as he was inclined to be, became disgusted with all of his heroes before he finished their biographies. And John Newton, wrote “Amazing Grace”—John Newton, watching a murderer led to execution, said, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
And the word of the missionary—we’ve got one on our platform today, this boy Jim Sibley, missionary in the Near East over there; listen to the missionary as he writes:
I never but once in India heard a man deny that he was a sinner. But once a Brahmin introduced me and said, “I deny your premise. I am not a sinner. I do not need to do better.” For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. I was abashed. Then I said, “But what do your neighbors say about you?” Thereupon one cried out, “He cheated me in a horse trade.” And another cried, “He defrauded a widow of her inheritance.” And another said, “He betrayed a woman with whom he committed adultery.” And the Brahmin went out of the house ashamed. I never saw him again.
You are like that. Not a one of you would stand up here in this pulpit or in any other place and say, “I am sinless. Just look at my life. I am without fault.” And those who have dared to do so, look at them.
Rousseau, philosopher and writer in the eighteenth century, in his Confessions, his most famous work, listen to him as he says, “No man can come to the throne of God and say, ‘I am a better man than Rousseau.’ Let the trumpet of the last judgment sound when it will. I will present myself before the sovereign Judge with this book of Confessions in my hand, and I will say aloud: ‘Here is what I did, what I thought, and what I was.’” So Rousseau says, “There’s no one who can say, ‘I’m a better man than Rousseau.’” All right, Rousseau was one of the most despicable characters of all literature. In his boyhood, he was a petty thief. Twenty years he lived in licentiousness. His children were all illegitimate and were sent to foundling homes as soon as they were born, casting them upon charity. He was a man mean, vacillating, treacherous, hypocritical, and blasphemous, and this is a man who says, “There’s no one who stands up better than I.”
Or take Lord Nelson; if you have been there in Trafalgar Square in London, there he is on top of that big enormously tall monument. After he had received his death wound at Trafalgar, he said, “I have never been a great sinner.” Yet at that very moment, he was living in open and unabashed adultery. That is we. That is you. That is I. That is we—the abomination that is humanity.
Then the apostle writes: “We are personally involved in that judgment of Almighty God [Romans 1:32]. You are inexcusable, O man, wherever you are, whoever you are; for in the manner that you judge and condemn others, you condemn yourself” [Romans 2:1]. All of us are involved personally—all of us.
Over there in Switzerland, a newspaper in Switzerland, on the inside section, had a story about a bridge that had collapsed, that had fallen over the Rhone River in France. The architect immediately appeared on television, and he said, “It is not my fault. It’s the contractor’s fault.” Then the contractor had an interview with the reporter, and he said, “It is not my fault. It’s the engineer’s fault.” And the engineer replied in the newspaper, he and his crew: “It is not my fault. It’s the manufacturer of the metal, of the iron, that is at fault.” And the manufacturer said, “It is not my fault. There was an inherent defect in the material that came to my foundry, out of which I made those great trusses.” And so it went, on and on and on, clear back to Adam. Doesn’t that sound familiar to you? “It’s not my fault. It’s his. He did it. He’s the one. Not I. Not I.”
Isn’t that what Adam said: “She did it—the woman that You gave me. She did it” [Genesis 3:12]. And isn’t that what the woman said: “He did it: the serpent. He deceived me” [Genesis 3:13]. Isn’t that all of humanity? And I do not know of a thing that characterizes modern society today more than, “This boy—this youth, this young man, he’s in drugs, he’s in thievery, he’s in sin. It’s not his fault! It’s his parents’ fault! It’s not his fault. It’s his environment’s fault. It’s not his fault. It’s his compeers.” Isn’t that the psychologist of the modern day?
God says: “You choose. Nobody makes you a liar. Nobody makes you a sinner. Nobody makes you a murderer or a thief. You choose to do it, and you are responsible before the Lord God.” That’s what God says.
It’s remarkable, this beginning thesis of the Book of Romans. In chapter 1, verses 18 to 32, he speaks of the sin of the Graeco-Roman world [Romans 1:18-32], and in chapter 2, verses 1 to 11, he speaks of the sins of the boasting moral Gentiles [Romans 2:1-11]. In chapter 2, verses 13 to 16, he speaks of the sins of the heathen [Romans 2:13-16], and in chapter 2, the rest of that chapter, 17 to 29, he speaks of the sins of the Israelites [Romans 2:17-29].
We haven’t changed. We haven’t changed. We have changed politically, we’ve changed economically, we’ve changed socially, we’ve changed scientifically, we’ve changed technologically, we’ve changed in every category of human experience, but we’re still spiritually just as we always have been: lost sinners [Romans 3:23; Ezekiel 18:4]. You know, it’s a remarkable thing to me. I never did think of it other than in the category of theology: the doctrine of total depravity. Not that we are as vile as we can be, but that we all are sinful—all of us. Well, I have been reading that and preaching that and believed that all the days of my sixty-five years as a pastor, but can you imagine my surprise? I’m going to quote from the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, “If those who preach the gospel had been lawyers prior to entering the ministry, they would know and say far more about the depravity of the human heart. The old doctrine of total depravity is the only thing that can explain the falsehood, the dishonesty, the licentiousnesses, and the murder so rife in the world. Education and reform fail to overcome it.” That’s the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. ‘Tis a remarkable thing—a remarkable thing, and we are helpless before it. We cannot cope with the sin that characterizes our life.
Sin is not a stumbling upward that evolution will cure, sin is not a darkening of the mind that education will cure, sin is not a social infirmity that culture advancement will cure, and sin is certainly not a physiological pathology that some kind of therapeutic amelioration will cure. Sin is in the soul.
Have you been out there to Fair Park? St. Catherine the Great—Catherine the Great, the ruler of Russia, is on display there with all of those marvelously beautiful accouterments: furniture, porcelain, jewels. Dear me. Who is she, this great Catherine of Russia? She was some kind of an unknown, inconsequential, insignificant German princess. She was betrothed and married a member of the household of the czar, one of his sons.
In the providence of life, he became the czar. And when he became czar, she was the czarina. She saw to it that he was murdered, that he was assassinated, and then she assumed the throne. And at no time in her life did she have less than half a dozen lovers—no time—at least six, seven, or eight lovers. And when you go out there and look at all of that pile of jewelry, that’s the stuff that she heaped upon her lovers—most expensive things in the world. That is Catherine the Great, and that is humanity.
Isn’t it an unusual thing? The more spiritually sensitive you are, the more sensitive you become to sin in your life. Isn’t that a remarkable thing? The closer you get to God, the more you feel for God. Look at me: dirty, and filthy, and sinful, and shameful.
In the sixth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, “In the year King Uzziah died I saw the Lord high and lifted up. And I said: Woe is me! for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips.” I am a sinner. “And I dwell among a people of unclean lips who are sinners” [Isaiah 6:1, 5]. Isn’t that remarkable?
Or, Simon Peter: “Lord, depart from me; I am a sinful man” [Luke 5:8]. Or the apostle Paul: “I am the chief of sinners” [1 Timothy 1:15]. Isn’t that remarkable? Get a long way from God, I may be proud of myself. But the nearer I get to God, the more I sense this sin and the sinful nature in my heart, in my soul, in my life. That’s why we cast ourselves upon the mercies of God. And that’s why God is presented to us not only as a God of judgment and of wrath and of condemnation, but a God of mercy and forgiveness and salvation.
Listen to the Book of Romans:
The word is near you… the word of faith that we are preaching.
That if thou will confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that He lives—that God raised Him from the dead, thou will be saved.
For with the heart we believe unto righteousness—a God kind of righteousness—and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture says: Whosoever—whosoever believes on Him will not be ashamed.
There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
For whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Oh! The mercy and grace of God: whosoever, whosoever—anyone, anywhere.
Do you remember the ark? God said, “One hundred and twenty years I give you to repent” [Genesis 6:3], one hundred and twenty years. And at the end of that one hundred and twenty years, I shall destroy all humanity with a flood, the whole earth [Genesis 6:19]. And Noah found grace in His sight” [Genesis 6:8]. And God said to Noah: “Build this ark, and when you build the ark, leave the door wide open, wide open [Genesis 6:16]. Whosoever will [John 3:15-16]—leave it wide open.” And into that wide open door, a big elephant lumbered in. And into that wide open door, a little snail crawled in. And into that wide open door, a great eagle swooped out of the blue of the sky and entered in. And into that open door a little wren hopped in. And into that open door, Shem and his family, Ham and his family, Japheth and his family enter in—wide open [Genesis 7:1-9]. Anybody, whosoever will, let him enter in [John 3:15-16]. That’s God.
That’s God throughout the Bible. Do you remember the day of the Passover? God said: “It will be, if they will put the blood of the lamb on the outside of the door [Exodus 12:7, 13, 23], the death angel will pass over” [Exodus 12:23]. Had an Egyptian—had an Egyptian put that blood on his doorpost, the death angel would have passed over. Had a Canaanite put that blood on his door, the [death] angel would have passed over. Had a Canaanite put that blood on that door, the [death] angel would have passed over. Had an Israelite put [that] blood on that door, the death angel would have passed over—whosoever, whosoever.
Take just one more. The camp was filled with fiery serpents, bit the people and they were dying [Numbers 21:6], and God said to Moses, “Lift up a brazen serpent in the midst of the camp, and if a man is bitten and he is dying, if he will look, he will live” [Numbers 21:8-9]. Anybody look; anybody, anybody dying, look and he will live.
There is life for a look at the Crucified One.
There is life at this moment for thee;
Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved,
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.
[“There Is Life for a Look at the Crucified One,” Mrs. A. M. Hull]
Whosoever will, let him look [John 3:14-17]. Let him believe [Acts 16:30-31]. Let him receive. Let him be saved. Let him come. That’s our Lord God of love and mercy.
Send the proclamation over vale and hill;
‘Tis a loving Father call the wanderer home—
Home, down this aisle—
Whosoever will may come.
[“Whosoever Will,” Philip P. Bliss]
That’s God, and that’s the Lord’s invitation to you who have listened.