There is only one sovereign ruler in this universe. By his power, He created everything -seen and unseen. By virtue of His creation, He owns everything, and He rules over everything. The creation account in Genesis tells us the formation of man. God formed the man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (Gen 2:7). The creation of the man is unique for two reasons. First, God made no creature with His own hands, God simply spoke and they came to existence. Secondly, He gave man His own breath -the breath of eternal life.
Then God put the man in the garden along with Eve and gave a command to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28). The man was given dominion over the earth to be vice-regents for God, that is, vice kings to represent God’s reign on this planet. This dominion is not without limitations or constraints.
Adam and Eve made a terrible mistake by listening to Satan and acting disobediently to God’s command (Genesis 3). The LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden. The Fall has not diminished or terminated God’s charge ‘to fill the earth and subdue it’. Rather, the Fall simply made the human task extremely more difficult. Now the ground is cursed (Genesis 3:17–19), nature has become hostile to humanity’s efforts to cultivate and develop it further, and wild animals also pose a threat to human beings. The curse of sin affects every part of human life, marriage, family life, socioeconomic factors, race, and ethnicity.
Since the creation of the world, many have desired to have the rule over it. In the beginning, Lucifer, the mighty angel of God now known as Satan desired to rule the universe. And, there were men like Napoleon, Alexander, Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin have desired to rule the world. If you look around today, you will find many others who are power hungry, desiring to rule over the planet. Rather than working towards making the earth a better place, they all have created further atrocities, racism, war, and poverty.
Can we eliminate these evils?
The solution to all these problems that everyone agrees is to transform human lives. The real question is: Can anybody be really transformed? Is it even possible? Can you actually take a wicked man and make him a good one? Can you take a racist and turn him or her into something lovely? Can a shattered, broken relationship be put back together as good as new? The world has employed various methods in the past to transform human life.
Therapists and counselors
Can the psychologists, therapists, and counselors transform the people? There are tens of thousands of websites claiming to help transform people. They say ‘the power is in you, it requires work and effort”. They provide six-steps or ten-steps to transform your life. Is true change really possible in therapy? Frankly, they are doing a miserable job. They are all focused on just passing the time and trying to change the circumstances around the person. Changing human behavior is a seemingly impossible task; you get them over one symptom and they will get a different one.
Improved education system
Some have come up with a bright idea that good education and new technology can transform society. See what has happened today? Rather than getting rid of crimes, we have now produced masses of smarter criminals and hi-tech thieves with PhD’s.
Reformed prison system
Now they called it “correction facilities”. The idea is to rehabilitate the offenders. If this works, why the majority of them go back? And of the ones who don’t go back, I wonder whether it is a real reform or whether it is only a fear of having to go back into a place that they don’t want to go back into. It is good to have firmer laws and correction methods, but scripture is clear that it doesn’t work. God said “I tried it already” and it didn’t work. “In vain have I smitten your children, they received no correction” (Jer. 2:30).
B.F. Skinner, an American psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Harvard University (1958-1974), argues that humans are simply higher-functioning animals and we can be transformed by controlling them like an animal, genetically controlling the children they produce (Beyond Freedom and Dignity). Is it really a viable solution? To transform people by crushing them, smashing all their personality, all their dignity and making them brainless robots? Here is what the wisest man ever lived on earth said, “Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, Yet his foolishness will not depart from him (Prov. 27:22). You cannot get rid of a wicked; you are just going to have a crushed criminal.
You may have heard these statements from many spiritual teachers; “There is a magic in the power of love”. “You can change the world with the power of love”. Love is a powerful thing for sure, but can the love resolve these evil and be able to transform a person? Can we just really count on everyone and start extending brotherly love? This is a superficial answer at this point. Listen to what the scripture says, “Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer” (Jer. 9:4-6). Try to start loving everybody with complete blissful trust, and you will get wiped out. Everyone who talks about love does not do it.
Well then, what’s the solution?
God has something to say about it, and this is what He says about people being transformed. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin? Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). God says, all our efforts to be transformed are futile because it is against our very nature to change.
There is no outside force that can change man, and there is none. Because man does not have an outside problem, what he got is an inside problem. If you want to transform a person, he has to be transformed from the inside. It is a ‘heart problem’. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9); “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints” (Isaiah 1:5). Man needs a ‘heart transplant’, he cannot be transformed on the outside. There is only one person who can do this heart surgery.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
The Transforming Power of the Gospel
God is in the business of transforming lives. He takes the crummiest of the crummy, the worst of the worst, and makes them the best. There is no one who can commit a too heinous sin that cannot be forgiven. There is no one who gets too low not to be transformed. The transforming power is in the Christian Gospel. With Paul, I say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).
The message of the Christian gospel is this, everyone in the world is headed for the eternal hell to be punished forever for their sins –the sin of rejecting the true and living God. The verdict is made when you arrived on this planet. The divine Judge has already ruled, the gavel has come down, and you have been condemned and sentenced to hell because you were born as an unbeliever. There is only one way to escape from hell and save your soul. It’s not by your virtue, and it’s not by your philanthropy, not by your ceremonies, rituals, or religious activities. The escape from God’s judgment is not for those who become more religious. It is not for those who try harder to be good. It is not for those who live morally, those who turn away from certain evil behavior. Salvation is for people who abandon all of that self-efforts to earn their way and put complete trust in the person and the work of Jesus Christ.
Sin is the course of all these atrocities and injustice happening in the world. It can be made right only through the substitutionary, atoning death of Jesus Christ. The gospel is broad enough to include the worst sinner, the most wretched, corrupt person who believes; and it is narrow enough to exclude the most moral religious unbeliever. God promised to remove the wicked old heart, and to give a new heart and new spirit to those who believe in the Gospel of God (Eze. 11:19; 36:26; Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10).