Last week, we entertained the idea of revival and spiritual awakening. Today, we revisit the reason why we, human beings, have a dire need for such things in the first place.
May I introduce to you Maggie and Tyler Heath (siblings), otherwise known as The Oh Hello’s. This group proudly hails from Texas (does any Texan not have pride in their state?) and are self-described “intentionally independent, self-produced music makers.”
Speaking of “self” our subject today is original sin and total depravity, or in layman’s terms, the smell of humanity. As already mentioned, our spiritual odor is the reason why we need to be washed by the blood of Christ. But more than that, we are so filthy and stinky that we need to daily enter that baptismal of spiritual renewal that is only found in God’s Son. We have stunk so badly for so long, we tend to forget the stench is even there.
Any media outlet (no matter it’s level of quality or bias) you choose to monitor will remind you of that – somewhat hard to forget and hard to remember – aroma that is the fallen-ness of humankind. It follows us everywhere like a skunk spray times infinity. Within the core of our beings we each carry the potential to be as awful and ugly as a Hitler or a Marylin Manson. We were all born this way and none of us can simply shake it off on our own.
Listen to a song that is the opener for The Oh Hello’s concept album put out last year designed to explore and express personal reflections about the fall of people and a single response from God:
We were born in the valley of the dead and the wicked
that our father’s father found and where we laid him down
We were born in the shadow of the crimes of our fathers
blood was our inheritance, no, we did not ask for this
Will You lead me?
We were young when we heard You call our names in the silence
like a fire in the dark, like a sword upon our hearts
We came down to the water and we begged for forgiveness
shadows lurking close behind, we were fleeing for our lives
Will You lead me?
Still You lead me, never leave me, never leave me
That last line actually comes from a reprise at the end of the album, along with a lingering refrain from the famous hymn “Come Thou Fount.” The line from the hymn that our song highlights is a human confession of our ever present tendency to wander away from God, back towards the land of human filth and pathetic-ness.
It is as if we are standing in river current that constantly pulls towards the depravity that plagues every member of the human race. Even when we relax and do nothing, we will simply drift back towards all things putrid and rebellious. The Christian knows that it is his/her lot to strive against this undertow on a daily basis. But the Christian should also know that Christ will be the One who leads us upstream and away from the valley.
Here’s how Paul explains the battle within himself (Romans 7:14-25):
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate…
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong…
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…
The entire album by The Oh Hello’s does a great job of exploring this topic and you can enjoy the whole thing at the link on the image above. I appreciate their efforts to join Paul in humbly admitting that our depravity is still here – even for those who have been washed clean by the love of Christ. Some might have trouble with that statement, wondering how could being born again in Christ still leave this odor of sin all over my heart and hands?
I think when we are all honest with ourselves, it isn’t that hard of a truth to accept. The hymn writer felt his proneness to wander – while he was worshiping his Savior and leading others to do the same. Paul taught his churches of his own struggle – in the midst of teaching them about the Gospel’s saving power, as well. You and I know in our heart of hearts that our striving will only cease when this flesh is dead and gone.
But until then we must remember where we have come from, where we still live and where we are headed. We came from the valley of death, sin and destruction. The valley of spiritual wretchedness still exists in our nature (even for believers in Jesus), but it will end on the mountain top of that final victory awaiting all those who truly embrace the Christ.
He will lead us through the deep, dark valley!