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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Psalm 14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."

Psalm 53:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good."

This morning, the intricacies of parallel passages is again upon our mind. When doing research for a project, paper, etc, we learn that there are "primary sources" and "secondary sources" (sometimes called auxiliary sources). The primary sources are perceived as being more sound, trustworthy, and accurate and include things such as books, reference journals, etc. The secondary sources are perceived as not being as accurate (by themselves) as the primary sources, which include internet references, undefended papers, and treatises. These should be used to bolster the primary sources and not make or break the argument by having them stand on their own. In aeronautics, there is a similar analogy between primary and secondary instruments. While it is possible to fly a plane using only secondary instruments, it is always dangerous to never look at the altimeter, speed, etc. Therefore, when studying the Bible, we need to view the primary source list as being very short: the Bible itself. All other references must be viewed as secondary sources that can bolster a Biblical point, but should never be used to "make or break" the argument of the theological point.

In our study of the Bible, we sometimes come across passages that we "assume" are identical in our minds. The Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 parallel can be just such an example as we see the same language throughout both sections, or do we? My belief is that these two sections, laid side by side, will provide a more thorough and complete look at the Psalmist's description of us by nature than just one of them by itself. Let us examine just a couple of phrases from the verses above, and so doing, may we be invigorated to look at both sections in detail to discover the complete look that David had in mind. As a bit of groundwork for this discussion, it should be noted that man, by nature, is wholly given to sin and uncleanness. David will clearly make the point in verse 3, but that point is critical to understanding how to look more completely at this picture. Thinking that man, by nature, has a "divine spark" that can be flamed and bellowed into a roaring blaze is unbiblical, but it will also damper the understanding of our thoughts today.

In Psalm 14, we see the phrase "They are corrupt," while in Psalm 53, it reads, "Corrupt are they." Is there any difference to these two thoughts? One might claim that the inverted structure of the sentence is just to "break up the monotony of the reading." (i.e. not have identical language in two places) However, let us look at the structure itself. In one phrase, the people come before the corruption (They are corrupt), while the other phrase shows the corruption before the people (Corrupt are they). So, which comes first, the people or the corruption? Looking at both of these passages, we must answer both, but the specific answer depends on the situation.

In the case from Psalm 53, the corruption precedes the people. Therefore, this is speaking from the sense of being a sinner by nature. As trees bring forth fruit according to their kind, so our nature is corrupt. When a pecan tree sprouts out of the earth, it cannot decide one day to become an apple tree. To do so would mock the very Creator that designed vegetation on this life to produce fruit and bear out after the species that it is. Likewise, we read that an Ethiopian cannot change his skin colour, nor a leopard alter his spots. (Jeremiah 13:23) Jeremiah even compares this analogy to us - who are sinners - doing that which is righteous and good. Can we hope for any better of ourselves by nature than these other two could do to change their condition? The answer is, of course, a resounding, "NO." As sinners by nature - corruption preceding us - we cannot hope, of ourselves to change that nature.

Moving into Psalm 14, the people precede the corruption. Therefore, this is speaking in the realm of sinners by practice. We sin, according to the nature that we have, by our actions everyday. Before the grace of Almighty God comes into our lives, our actions are steeped totally in sin with no desire to do that which is right and good. This condition is known, quite commonly, as total depravity. One thing I would like to mention is that the actions are done by the "they." Some have made the claim that man commits these sins and transgressions as a chained animal that is bound to helplessly do nothing else. Their reasoning is that he would do something else but simply has no means to do so. While it is true that we, by nature, have no means to do anything other than sin, it must also be noted that man enjoys his sin to the fullest without a work of grace. Even after regeneration takes place, the old flesh enjoys sin just as much as it ever did. The difference is that the soul and spirit cannot thrive in it as before (hence the warfare between the two). But, it is really and truly us (they) that do these things, with the enjoyment thereof.

Looking at both of these thoughts together, we see that the Psalmist is building the case that he thunders in verse 3. Before he gets to that the booming declaration "none righteous, no not one" he wants to fully lay the groundwork that there is nothing here of value. Whether the nature is examined or the works themselves, every bit of it is wholly profitless and good for nothing. We think of corruption as synonymous with death, decay, and ruin. Dear friends, examine our nature and practice, and death, decay, and ruin is all that will be found by nature. This complete thought is then added to by another phrase later in these verses. Psalm 14 declares "have done abominable works," while Psalm 53 says "have done abominable iniquity."

In this phrase, the Psalmist further states that every work that we could consider is nothing short of iniquity. The Hebrew word for "iniquity" here is transliterated as "evel." The very word for iniquity meaning injustice, wrong, violence, or depravity is from the same root source as "evil" itself. Comparing this iniquity or evil to the other Psalm, all our works are "evel" or evil. What could we possibly bring before God to say, "This is good." He has declared every work of ours, by nature, to be evil or full of iniquity. Since our righteousness is as filthy rags in his sight, our very best state is nothing more than vanity. (Isaiah 64:6, Psalm 39:5) Our Adamic nature is so entwined with our actions that we cannot hope to be free from one until we are freed from both.

Consider for a moment what being removed from your iniquities (the practices themselves) would bring. What if Christ came and through regeneration just removed our sins and practices from us? We would still have a nature that immediately went back to it and made more evil practices. What if Christ came and through regeneration just removed our old nature from us? We would have righteousness going forward, but there would be a multitude of past actions that, without atonement, would forever bar us from standing with God in righteousness and being satisfied. Therefore, Christ came that our old nature might be put away as well as the practices thereof. (Romans 6:23, I Peter 2:24) He put away our sin (nature) and sins (practices). Because of this, we, as Jacob, are removed from our iniquities, eternally speaking. (Romans 11:26) We cannot find them again.

May we not hide behind the thought, "If only Adam had not made me a sinner by what he did." And may we not hide behind the thought, "If only I could do something else by nature." Dear friends, Adam's plight was ours too. As our representative, that cannot be hidden behind like some cop-out for failure, for God will not grant leniency on that point on the final day. (Revelation 20:12-15) On the other hand, we cannot claim his action as our "chain" for misconduct, for we, before regeneration fully enjoy doing those things. We enjoy sinning by the old lusts. However, how thankful we ought to be that One who is completely Just came and died for the unjust. We were unjust through and through, but He has made us righteous inwardly by the washing of regeneration and one day wholly and manifestly at the raising of the resurrection. On that day, we will see the triumphant second man and last Adam that rescued corrupt people with corrupt practices. We
will see One that saw none good but brought salvation by His own arm to those that He loves eternally. The story of grace is made sweet when we understand just how low we were, for knowing that, we then can glimpse just how far He reached down to get us and bring us to where He is.



In Hope,

Bro Philip