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Bad to the Bone: A Study of Human Depravity - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2005-07-17 PM
  • Systematic Theology
  • Sermons


When we think about those ancient words as we were just singing, there are some portions of those ancient words that are more difficult than others. We love those passages that deal with the grace and mercy and forgiveness of God, but it's a little more difficult when we come to an issue like human depravity. And yet, the Bible has as much to say about this issue as any other issue as we'll see in the, in the study that we have this evening and next week as well. It's crucial to understand. In fact, Martin Luther said that if you got this right, then you'll get salvation right; but if you miss this, then you'll also miss a Biblical understanding of salvation.

October of last year, I read an article in Newsweek that was shocking. It was a review of a new book that had just come out. The book is called The Nuremberg Interviews. U.S. Army psychiatrist Leon Goldensohn, who interviewed defendants and witnesses at the Nuremberg war crimes trial in 1946, took extensive handwritten notes of his interviews and discussions with men such as Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, and even the commandant of Auschwitz. The notes that he wrote remained unexamined for many years. He intended to write a book, but he never did. But his family eventually gave those handwritten notes from his discussions with these Nazi overlords to a Florida State history professor about a decade ago. And that professor saw that these handwritten notes were combined into a book, and they were published last year.

Newsweek writes this, the reviewer says:

"It's a freak show, an exhibit of moral deformities from which it's impossible to turn away, even as you're creeped out by your unwholesome fascination. Goldensohn serves as a down-to-earth Dante in these anterooms to hell, getting one damned soul after another to reveal himself in his own words. The more they cover up, the better we see them."

There are a number of very troubling quotes. Let me share with you the one that I found most troubling. It was from the commandant of Auschwitz. He says, "Nobody knows me. I'm a man of many parts. (He said) the Holocaust violated "my chivalric code". I revere women, and I think it unsportsmanlike to kill children. That is the main thing that bothers me about the extermination of the Jews." Another one writes: "I don't know what you mean about these things, being upset, because I didn't personally murder anybody. I was just the director of the extermination program in Auschwitz."

You know, when we think of human depravity, we think of men like that. We think of men who have absolutely sold themselves to evil. We think of a Hitler who massacred six million Jews. We think of Stalin who had twenty million of his own people exterminated. We think of Jeffrey Dahmer and types like that. We think of the man who was recently arrested for that horrible crime in Idaho.

And without question, all of those are examples of human depravity, but you don't have to look that far to become familiar with human depravity. Look at your own family. Look at your children. Look at yourself. You know the sins, the sins that you regularly commit time after time: sins like pride and selfishness and lust and sins of the tongue. You want to stop, you try to stop, and because you're in Christ you do see a general decrease in the pattern of sin in your life, but it's still there. And according to Scripture, it will be until the day you die. Your own heart, and mine as well, constitutes plenty of evidence for the universal presence of human depravity.

Last time we studied together, we examined the immediate results of the fall, the results on Adam and on Eve and on creation. But according to Scripture, the most tragic effects of the fall have to do with what has happened to every human heart. Tonight, and next Sunday night, and depending on how far we get, perhaps the following one, I want us to examine very carefully how Adam's sin has affected you and me. We're going to look at the backdrop for God's grace. It may take us this week and two more to do it, but it's crucial to grasp the backdrop and the necessity of the grace of God. Because if you don't get this, you don't really appreciate grace. It's not fun to talk about. I might as well have advertised that we're talking about death tonight, but it's crucial that we understand it.

I want us to examine very carefully how Adam's sin has affected you and me. Theologians call the enduring effect of Adam's sin on you and on me "original sin". Let's begin with a definition. What do we mean when we talk about "original sin"? That's a bit confusing. Some prefer the term "inherited sin". Berkhof defines it this way: "It is the sinful state and condition in which men are born." Charles Hodge writes: "It is the corruption of our whole nature."

Why the term "original"? That almost makes it sound like we're talking about Adam. Why do we say original sin to describe us? There are several reasons. First of all, because it is derived from the original root of the human race, that is, Adam. It's present in the life of every individual from the time of his birth, so it's original in that sense. And it's original in the sense that it is the root of all the actual sins that defile the life of a man. This is what we're talking about, "our inherited sin, the sin that comes to us from Adam, the sinful state and condition in which we are born, a corruption of our entire being".

Now when we think about this doctrine, before we look at the Biblical perspective, let me tell you that there are several primary views about original sin. They have to deal with this text however, and we're going to come back to this text a little later. But they have to deal with this text in explaining the sin that you and I have in our lives. Romans 5:12: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin [so far, we have Adam's sin, and we have death through his sin, but notice then what follows. The second half of the verse doesn't have to do with Adam; it has to do with us], and so death spread to all men [that's you and me; that's everybody, every human being - why?], because all sinned…."

Obviously, there is some connection between Adam and us. The question, and the issue that's debated, is what is the nature of that connection between our sin and Adam's sin. There are several very distinct views of the lingering effects of Adam's sin on us. Let's look at them together.

The first is the Pelagian view. We're going to talk a little more about Pelagius because it's crucial that you understand him and his perspective on the Christian faith. It is one that has been declared heretical, but it still influences the church. In fact, my guess is, it influences the minds of some people sitting right here tonight.

What does Pelagianism teach about original sin? Well, they say that Adam's sin affected only himself. And what about us? Well, Pelagianism says at birth, we are innocent and able to obey God. We're essentially born with a blank slate and we can choose evil or we can choose good. We are able to obey God. So, what do they do with Romans 5:12? Well, Pelagians say, when it says there that death came upon all, we incurred death. Pelagians say, because we follow Adam's bad example and personally sin. That's the only connection between us and Adam: we follow his example, and we choose just as he chose. Those who hold to this view are primarily in our day the Unitarians. We have a Unitarian church here locally. This is what they believe; this is their doctrine. It's a doctrine that was condemned in the early years of the church as we'll see next week.

Another view of original sin is the Arminian view. The Arminian view says that Adam's sin corrupted us physically and intellectually, but we have no guilt because of Adam's sin. We have no personal guilt because of what Adam did. So, how did it affect us? Arminians teach that at birth we have a sinful nature, but we are still able to cooperate with God because of what they call prevenient grace, that is, grace that God gives us before conversion that allows us to cooperate. Romans 5:12, they say we incur death because we consciously choose to follow our corrupted nature and thereby ratify Adam's sin. Those who hold to this view are primarily Methodists, Wesleyans, and Pentecostals in our day.

The final view, primary view, there are a number of offshoots of these, but these are the primary ones. The final primary view, and the one that I hold to, and that I want you to embrace, and I'll show you why as we go through the Scripture, is what's called a Reformed view. That simply means it's the view of the Reformers, which goes back ultimately to Augustine himself as we'll see in a few minutes and back to the Scripture; ultimately, which is the most important issue. But historically, it goes back to them. The Reformed view says that Adam's sin, (watch the difference here) brought guilt, corruption, and death to all mankind. In other words, not only do I have corruption because of what Adam did, not only am I born a sinner, but I actually have guilt because of what Adam did. The Reformed view teaches that at birth, our entire nature is polluted by sin. We're under God's just condemnation, and we're unable to do anything that pleases God or attains salvation. Our entire nature's polluted, and we can do absolutely nothing (this is key), that pleases God or attains salvation. Romans 5:12, the Reformed view says, teaches this. We incur death because the guilt of Adam's sin is imputed to us. Those who hold this view are all those who hold to a Reformed soteriology, includes some Baptists, some Bible churches, Presbyterians and so forth.

Now, this final view is the one that most closely follows the clear teaching of Scripture. Now, when you look at that, if you'd not heard this before, your first reaction is to say, wait a minute, that's not fair. What do you mean, God's going to impute guilt to me for something somebody else did? Well wait a minute. Don't say that too quickly for two reasons.

First of all, because everyone who argues that this is unfair has, in fact, personally committed many sins. And Scripture indicates that it's those sins that will be the basis for God's judgment. Romans 2:6: "He will render to each person according to their deeds." Colossians 3:25: "For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality." In other words, the sinner who ends up going to hell doesn't go to hell because of Adam's guilt that's been imputed to him. He goes to hell because of the deeds he has chosen to do, but that doesn't mean he doesn't stand guilty because of Adam's sin.

There's another problem. If you think it's unfair to be represented by Adam and to have his guilt imputed to you, then you should think it's equally unfair to be represented by Christ and to have His righteousness imputed to you. It works the same way. If one's unfair, so is the other. God's methodology is the same in both actions.

So, it's absolutely certain that we have been deeply affected by Adam's sin, but exactly how did that happen, through what means? Now here's where those who hold the Reformed view disagree. How exactly did we get original sin? There are two basic views of those who are reformed in their doctrine of salvation, who embrace the clear biblical doctrine that the guilt of Adam's sin has been imputed to every man. They're divided on how that guilt was imputed.

First of all, there is the, and I know this is a little technical, but stay with me because it lays a foundation that's important. There is what's called the "Augustinian, the Realistic, or the Seminal" view. It's called by all of those names, so I put them all up there so you would know. What does that mean? Well basically this view says that every human being was seminally present in Adam. All mankind was in his loins, and when he sinned, therefore we participated in his sin. How do they defend this view? Well, they'll take you to Hebrews 7:9 and 10, which says that Levi, although he was not yet born, was seminally present in Abraham and paid tithes to Melchizedek. You remember that passage? I won't take time to turn there, but that's the passage they'll use. They'll say this same thing happened with Adam. We were seminally present in Adam and when he sinned, we sinned too because we were there. Those who have defended this view through the history of the church are Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and Strong is a more recent proponent of it.

Now let's critique this view. There are a couple of issues that bother me about this view. First of all, why only the sin of Adam and not every person in whom we were seminally present? Why is it that God only causes us to be guilty for Adam's sin and not everybody else's sin in whom we were seminally present. In other words, our entire generation back to Adam, series of generations back to Adam. There's another problem, and that is why only Adam's first sin and not all his sins, if this is the correct view? Why just that first act of disobedience and not every other sin that he committed in his hundreds of years of life? But one other issue, and that is, why isn't Christ also guilty of Adam's sin then since He too was seminally present through Mary in Adam? So, there are several questions that those who are critics of this view raise.

Now the second primary view that Reformed soteriology has in original sin is called the Federal Covenant or Representative view. What does that mean? Well basically, it just teaches that Adam represented every human being. He served as our representative. Charles Hodge writes and defines it this way: "In virtue of the union, federal and natural between Adam and his posterity, his sin, though not their act, is so imputed to them that it is the judicial ground of the penalty threatened against him coming also upon them." In other words, you're going to be guilty for Adam's sin because he was your representative.

Now how do they defend this view? Well, two ways. First of all, they say there is an implied covenant in Genesis 2, what they call the covenant of works, a covenant between God and Adam. Basically, God said, "Adam, here's the covenant. You don't eat the tree, you live; you have eternal life. You eat the tree, you disobey, and you will be the representative of all mankind, and they will all be guilty of your sin." Now how can they say there's a covenant in Genesis 2? Well, they'll argue that the word for covenant doesn't have to be present. It wasn't in 2 Samuel 7 when David had a covenant made with him, but later it's referred to as a covenant. They'll argue that the elements of a covenant are present there in Genesis 2. There are two parties, there is obviously a binding agreement that's made, there's penalty put in place. And they would point to Hosea 6:7, which talks about Adam transgressing the covenant, and they would say, "See, there's evidence that in fact there was a covenant between God and Adam."

There's a second reason though that they would say that this is the correct biblical view, and that is because of the parallels between Adam and Christ in Romans 5:12. We'll look at that in just a minute. That's a key text, and we're going to turn there. I just want to give you this foundation before we look at the biblical text, so stay with me. Now those who defend this view are theologians, American theologians like Hodge, Berkhof, Grudem, and Robert Reymond.

When you critique this view, the key issue is that it seems to contradict a couple of passages, Deuteronomy 24 and Ezekiel 18, which talk about no man ever being considered guilty for someone else's sin. Now let me just tell you that both of these views have problems. In spite of that, I personally believe the Federal Headship view, this view, is the most biblically correct and let me tell you why. Because in Romans 5, whatever our connection is to Adam, we have the same kind of connection to Christ. He compares the two through that entire passage. That means if we were not seminally present in Christ when He obeyed, but He was instead obedient as our representative, our substitute, then that must be the relation we bore to Adam as well; that he was our representative, our substitute, if you will, there in the garden. So, I think this view is the closest to the concept of Adam serving as our substitute or our representative, but we'll get there in a moment when we get to the text. Now when we talk about original sin, let me give you a summary of what's included. We're talking about Adam's guilt imputed to us.

And secondly, we're talking about our inheriting pollution or corruption in our beings. Now this second point is usually broken down two ways. This pollution or corruption issues in total depravity, you've heard that word before, and in total inability. That's a crucial concept that we'll talk about in the coming weeks. I'm going to save that one because as I mentioned before, in his classic book The Bondage of the Will, Luther told Erasmus that by raising the issue of the "freedom of the will", he had raised the main issue. In fact, he says, if you don't get this right, you don't end up with a biblical understanding of salvation. Conversely, if you get this right, the issue of "total inability", you'll always land at a biblical doctrine of salvation. So, we're going to look at that sort of all on its own. It's a crucial concept, and it has a lot of practical ramifications.

So, this is an outline of what we're going to be looking at. Tonight, we're going to begin by looking at "imputed guilt", imputed guilt. This is part of what original sin means. As you sit here tonight in the eyes of God, you and I are guilty for the sin that Adam committed in the Garden of Eden. When Adam sinned, God placed real, personal guilt for that sin in your account and in my account. Now remember, we're not talking here about the feeling of guilt. We're talking about our relationship to God's law. From the moment of conception, we stand before God as guilty of having violated His law and deserving of punishment even before we commit our first sin because of Adam's sin.

Now with that, let's turn to Romans 5, and let's look at it together. I've given you a lot of background, but I hope that helps clarify the whole issue we're discussing. Now let me show you the ramifications of it in Scripture. Turn to Romans 5. Now don't miss the flow of Paul's thought in the book of Romans. Romans is one of my favorite books. I seriously considered doing it instead of James, even now, but I thought we would wait on that because it'll take me a lot longer to get through Romans than it will James. So, we're going to wait and sort of postpone our study of that, but I'm eager to do it because this book is absolutely foundational to an understanding of the Christian faith. In fact, let me say this. If you don't understand Romans, you don't understand your faith and you are not poised to grow as someone who does grasp and understand the book of Romans. It's crucial, foundational.

But let me just remind you of the flow of Paul's thought. He begins in chapter 1 indicting all of mankind, verse 1, or excuse me, verse 18 of chapter 1 through chapter 3 and verse 20 is an indictment first of the religious, of the Jew, and then of all mankind. He turns from the indictment of man and his need for salvation in chapter 3:21 to salvation. And he uses the term justification, justification. Now he develops that, you'll notice in Romans 3:21 down through the end of chapter 3. He talks about what justification is. Then in chapter 4, he sets forth a biblical defense for it. He cites two great biblical characters - Abraham in verses 1 through 5 and David in verses 5 through 8. And then he argues some more about the place of faith through the rest of chapter 4, but he's setting up that we are declared righteous before God on the basis of faith and faith alone. Chapter 5:1 - 11 have to do with the results of justification. He says because you have been justified, notice 5:1: "Therefore, having been justified by faith", here are the things that are true. And he lists a number of things that are true because of that justification.

Now that brings us up to verse 12. Let's read verse 11 just to set the context for where he's going. He says:

"We exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." [Now what he's going to do is he's going to establish how that justification happened and how our relation to Christ is very similar to our relationship to Adam. Let's follow his reasoning here,] verse 12: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all have sinned."

Literally, what he says in verse 12 is in this way, that is, through Adam's sin, death spread to all men. In this way, death spread to all men, that is, through Adam's sin. Somehow, he then says, because all sinned. Somehow through the sin of Adam, all sinned. Now think about that for a moment. When Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, not all men had actually committed sinful acts. Take us for example. We hadn't been born yet. Others had died as infants without committing any conscious acts of sin. So, Paul cannot mean that all humanity had in fact committed conscious acts of sin. So, Paul must mean that when Adam sinned, God counted it true that all men sinned in him. And verse 13 and 14 make this clear.

Notice his line of argument, verse 13: "for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who is to come." Now what's he saying here? Get, get the picture of this verse. He's saying from Adam to Moses there was no written law. From whenever creation was, and we don't know exactly when it was, but somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 B.C. probably, until Moses, 1445 B.C., so for thousands of years, from Adam to Moses, there was no written law. Even though the sins of those who lived in that period were not counted against them, he says, because there wasn't a law. They still died. Paul says that is proof that God counted people guilty on the basis of Adam's sin. The fact that they still died when there was no law saying, "thou shalt not" means that God was holding them guilty for the sin of Adam. That's what Paul is saying here.

Now the verse, Paul goes into sort of a parentheses here. I'm not going to take time to go through every verse, but the key verse is verse 19. Here's where he wraps up his conclusion. Here's where he makes the big point. "For as through the one man's disobedience [that is, through Adam's disobedience] the many [now he doesn't mean here that not all of mankind; he's already established he's talking about all of mankind. He's using parallelism, and so he's saying basically through one man's disobedience, the many] were made sinners." Now the tense of this verb is very interesting, "were made sinners". Through Adam's disobedience, we were made sinners.

What he's saying is this. We could translate it this way: through Adam's disobedience, many were constituted as sinners. Then he says, "even so through the obedience of the One [that is Christ of course] the many will be constituted righteous." In the same way that we were constituted sinners in Adam, we were constituted righteous in Christ. Now you tell me. How were we constituted righteous in Christ. Was it because we actually committed righteous deeds? No, it's because it was imputed to us. So, Paul is arguing that Adam's sin was imputed to all of us and in the same way, Christ's righteousness is imputed to those who believe.

Now, what this stresses is that "imputation," that's a word you need to know. Many churches and pastors today are afraid to use biblical and theological words. This church is not going to be one of them. You need to think deeply about what God has revealed. Imputation is a critical tool of God. What is imputation? "To impute "simply means "to put in one's account", "to reckon to one's account", to treat you as if it were true. This is a critical tool of God.

And what you need to understand is that God has used this tool in three different ways.

First of all as we just learned here in Romans 5, God imputed Adam's sin to us. Whether, whatever view you like, whether we were seminally present in Adam or whether he was our representative, it doesn't matter which view you take; the bottom line is God said you're guilty for Adam's sin. He imputed Adam's sin to our account. Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology writes this: "God counted Adam's sin as belonging to us." Now before you're tempted to respond negatively to that, that's unfair, listen to what Grudem writes: "And since God is the ultimate judge of all things in the universe and since His thoughts are always true, Adam's guilt does in fact belong to us. God rightly imputed Adam's guilt to us [and I could add whether we understand it or not]." This is what the Scriptures teach.

Now that's the bad news. That's the "bad imputation", but praise God. This is a wonderful tool that we benefit from unimaginably because the second way God uses this tool of imputation is "He imputed our sin to Christ". Imagine that. God took the same tool if you will out of His divine tool belt, and He used imputation to take your sins, (every sin you have ever committed or will ever commit,) He took those sins, and He put them in the account of Christ on the cross and for six hours, He poured out His divine wrath on Jesus Christ in your place. He treated Christ as if He had lived your life. That's a good form of imputation.

In fact, let me let you see this form. We've seen it, we've seen the first here. He imputed Adam's sin to us in Romans 5. Turn to 2 Corinthians 5. This is my favorite text of the other kinds of imputation, Second Corinthians 5. Paul here lays out the heart of his ministry. He says, "we are ambassadors for Christ (verse 20), as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." The heart of an evangelist is a pleading, begging heart. Then he says this incredible thing in verse 21: "God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf." That doesn't mean Christ became a sinner; it's what we're talking about here. God imputed our sin to Jesus Christ on the cross. And for those six hours one Friday two thousand years ago, He poured out the wrath that you and I deserved to, to reap for all eternity.

But there's a third way God uses this "tool of imputation", and that's He "imputes Christ's righteousness to us". Look at the second half of the verse: "so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Paul develops this even further in Romans 3:21 and following. This, we're talking here about "justification". And by the way, let me remind you of our study in Philippians. Don't say justification means just as if I'd never sinned. That's not what justification means. This is what justification means. It means "God imputes my sin to Christ and He imputes Christ's righteousness to me". He takes the righteousness that Christ gained over those thirty-three years of life in this world that we talked about this morning, or we were praying about this morning, the thirty-three years of absolute perfect obedience to the law of God, not a single moment of sin, not a single bad thought, not a single evil act, but perfect love for God every moment of His life and perfect, unmitigated love for others just as the law commands. And God takes that righteous life, and He puts it in your account and in mine. That's justification. And that's the third form of imputation.

So, before you cry too much about how unfair it is that God would impute Adam's guilt to you and to me, think about what God does with imputation. He imputes our sin to Christ on the cross, and He imputes Christ's righteousness to us.

Well, it's truly amazing the grace of God. Let's talk briefly about so what. How does this apply? What do we do with this? What should this do to us is a better way to say it. Well first of all, it should build in us a profound sense of gratitude. If you already belong to Christ, then the understanding that the truth of imputation should create in you, should produce in you, is this overwhelming sense of gratitude because this doctrine of imputation shows us how much we are bound to Christ for His taking the guilt that we got with Adam, the guilt that we have gotten from our own acts, from our own sinful choices on Himself and giving us His righteousness - profound sense of gratitude.

And that should issue forth, secondly, in thanksgiving. Psalm 50 talks about the sacrifice of thanksgiving. We don't kill animals anymore, but have you ever offered God the sacrifice of thanksgiving? Turn to Hebrews 13:15. "Through Him then [that is, through Christ], let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God [you still owe God a sacrifice - that's not some animal; it's your praise], that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." You and I ought to be the most thankful people in the world. When is the last time, let me just ask you very pointedly, when is the last time you spent time alone with God thanking Him for the amazing gift of imputation, for justification?

Thirdly, as a result of this great truth, we owe Him our holiness and our service. Romans 12 begins, verse 1, by saying, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God [that is, I'm pleading with you, I'm begging you because of what you have learned about God's mercies in your life as He unfolded that great doctrine of justification we've just talked about and imputation. He says as you've heard about that, I beg you because of that], to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." This should be our response.

And finally, back in 2 Corinthians, turn back to 2 Corinthians 5. The truth of imputation, the truth of our depravity, the truth of our guilt should lead us to deep concern for others because others have that guilt still on them. Theirs has not been imputed to Christ. They have not had His righteousness imputed to them. They stand guilty under their own sinful choices and the guilt that they have received because of Adam's sin. So, back in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says, verse 18:

"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ (and watch this, we've been reconciled) and He gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them (there's that imputation), and He has committed to us the word (the message) of reconciliation (you can be reconciled to God). Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us."

Is this how you talk to family and friends and coworkers? Do you have this deep concern for them, realizing that they are still caught in their depravity, guilty before God? "We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." And you too can enjoy this amazing gift of imputation.

Well, there's more to look at. Next time, we'll look at what we mean by "total depravity," very misunderstood, very confused in our day. And next time, we'll see that. Again, it's the backdrop for the grace of God, even as I hope you've seen tonight.

Let's pray together.

Father, how can we ever thank You for the amazing tool, the amazing reality of imputation? Lord, we feel the sting of it, the fact that You impute Adam's guilt to us, that he served as our representative there.

And yet, we rejoice that because of imputation, You can make Christ our representative in feeling Your wrath, and You can impute His amazing life to our account.

Lord, I pray that You would produce these effects in us. Lord, give us thankful hearts, give us true hearts of gratitude. Don't let us leave unchanged, unmoved. And Father, I pray that You would help us to pursue true holiness and service to You, that we would present our bodies as a living sacrifice to You, which is a wonderful spiritual act of worship.

And Father, help us to be ambassadors, pleading with people to be reconciled with You.

We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Systematic Theology