“To Be Of God”

The Sun Also Rises by Melanie Wells
In a poem “Au Lecteur  (To the Reader)”  by Charles Baudelaire, a preface to his collection of poems entitled “Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil)”,  the French poet presents a pessimistic view of humanity’s condition, envisioning a world of hypocrisy, death, sin, boredom, and utter decay, watched over and promoted by Satan himself. This view mirrors the Bible’s perspective of the heart and nature of  mankind without God, as well as the existence of evil, which aims to defeat God’s good and loving purposes in human lives.

The Apostle John writes to Christians at Ephesus to assure them of eternal life through their faith in Christ, emphasizing that they are “of God” while the whole world ” lies in the power of the evil one.”

John portrays the world as under the influence of Satan, an evil power reigning over all its aspects. Satan is diametrically opposed to God, and his ultimate objective is to turn us away from the Creator, using all kinds of maneuvers to disrupt our relationship and fellowship with Him. “The world” is anything that would try to deceive us to feel satisfied without our need for God.

To be “of God” is in complete contrast to the state of the world, and the Apostle seems to imply that it is the only possible dichotomy.  It means that Christians have been taken out of the clutches of the evil forces of Satan’s army. We are initially born into this world under the dominion of sin and darkness, but through the atoning sacrifice of God’s Son at Calvary, we are delivered and brought into God’s marvelous light.

In a positive sense, it implies that we belong to God, His realm, and His Kingdom. Our sins have been forgiven, and we have entered into an entirely new relationship with God, being reconciled to Him through Christ. We are no longer controlled by the evil one, but are under the direction of God and His Spirit, with outward manifestations in our lives.

How then, shall one distinguish between one who is “of God” and one who is not? The great St. Augustine said that the first test of the Christian life, and the second, and the third, is humility.  It is to be like Christ, who, though He was equal with God, thought it not something to be grasped at. He humbled himself to be born into this world like one of us. Humility, then, is the litmus test because the worldly spirit is the very antithesis of it, where pride, arrogance and self-confidence are highly prized, promoted, and encouraged.

To be “of God” means that we are destined for God, to spend eternity with Him. And because of this assurance, we are filled with a sense of awe and wonder at the manner of love that our Heavenly Father has towards us — that we should be called children of God.

Scripture Reference:

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”  I John 5:19 (New American Standard Bible)


Charles Baudelaire,  “Au Lecteur / To the Reader” in “Fleurs du Mal / Flowers of Evil”, Paris, 1857.  Available at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6099

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Life in Christ, Studies in I John”, Crossway:Wheaton, Illinois, 2002, pp. 691-712

Photography:  “The Sun Also Rises” by Melanie Wells

Delusions of Garlic

“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat?   We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic”  Numbers 11:4-5 NKJV

The Bible presents the nature of mankind as age-old and universal.  In spite of the phenomenal achievements of the modern age, human nature has remained virtually the same since the fall of Adam.  Science, economic progress, education, the ideals of humanism, and all the other remarkable feats of the human race still leave this world in as miserable condition as it was thousands of years ago.  All of these advances have not addressed man’s underlying, fundamental dilemma.

At the very root of the problem, the Bible says, is the heart of man.  Jeremiah the prophet lamented, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Contrary to what humanists believe, the Bible demonstrates that the very nature of man is not basically good, but evil.  Knitted into the fiber of mankind’s nature is the system and structure of sin and its corresponding traits of lust, passion and craving.  This course of sin is so powerful and overwhelming that it grips and enslaves the human heart of natural man.  Education, self-will, and intelligence cannot tame it: sin pervades and masters the very depths of one’s being.

The children of Israel illustrate this lust, this craving in the wilderness, after they fled to freedom from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Their memories became selective; the craving for the exotic foods in the land they fled from was so intense that they forgot the sufferings and despair they underwent as slaves: the oppression, the arduous labor, the harsh sun, the hunger from lack of food. They wanted to go back to the very place that enslaved them, hankering after the watermelons, the cucumber, the onions and the garlic that they probably ate meagerly as slaves, and not “freely” as they claimed. The craving was so intense that nothing else mattered, not even their freedom.

Sin perverts, creates a duality in man.  On the one hand we behold all the impressive, awe-inspiring achievements; on the other hand we survey the towering garbage heap of  human failures.    No one is exempt from this condition. It made Paul cry out when he realized the gravity of it all:  “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

Sin eventually leads to death, physical and spiritual.  It hastens the physical, and elongates the spiritual into eternity.

There is an answer, the only answer to this terrible malady called sin.  In His great love and compassion, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that through Him we can be delivered from the tyranny of sin and death and be born again into a new kind of life: everlasting life.  But we must first recognize this oppressive nature of sin within us and yield ourselves to God and His way of salvation. Until then, we will forever be restless, unsure, and live in constant contradictions within ourselves, for as one former sinner St. Augustine prayed: “Thou hast made us for Thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in Thee”.