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Summary: Most agree that the world is sick, but many disagree on the exact diagnosis or nature of the illness and the prescription for curing the world's ills. There is a balm in Gilead, and this sermon attempts to show that it is the only cure.

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WHY THE WORLD CAN’T GET WELL

INTRODUCTION

A. Our title assumes that the world is sick.

1. One will get over 600 million hits if one Googles “Is the world sick.”

a. Some of these have to do with pollution of the earth and some have to do

world health, but many of them are about the social and moral ills of the

world.

b. Isaiah’s rebuke of Israel of old is worth comparing to our own times:

Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers,

children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have

despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you

still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is

sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head,

there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they

are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil (Isa 1:4-6, ESV).

2. Few, if any, in our society would argue that we are the epitome of social,

moral, and spiritual health, but the majority are rejecting the cure, which

universally is Christ crucified and personally our dying with him (Gal 2:20).

a. Walk through the psychology section of most any bookstore and you will

see stack of how-to-overcome books. Some are good, but many are

simply pop psychology, and some sink to the level of “snake oil.”

b. Sometimes self-help books written from a “Christian” perspective, are little

more than reconstituted pop psychology.

B. We should recognize that there are mental illnesses that are rooted in biology—

chemical imbalances and genetic defectives, which can and should be treated by

medical professionals. However, much—as we shall see—that is labeled

“mental illness” is sinful behavior, for which the individual should be accountable.

[http://www.bmei.org/jbem/volume4/num4/bobgan_behavior_or_disease.php]

C. We will explore two points:

1. The world’s approach to its own illnesses.

2. The balm of Gilead, which heals sin-sick souls.

I. THE WORLD’S COSMETIC CURES FOR ITS DISEASES

A. Relabeling sin as sickness.

1. In October 1973, Dr. Karl Menninger, M.D., a psychiatrist and founder of the

Menninger Institute, wrote a book entitled Whatever Became of Sin, in which

he traced the demise of sin in society—or to be more exact, the demise of the

use of the word sin, for the behaviors described in the Bible as sin are alive

and well on planet earth.

2. Relabeling sin as sickness is like having cosmetic surgery in order to stay

young. One may look younger, but be the same old hag or crotchety old

codger inside.

3. Paul divides all human behavior into two categories: works of the flesh and

works of the Spirit (Gal 5:16-26).

a. We can call drunkenness addiction, but it still leads to hungry, abused

children, broken dreams, wasted fortunes, and on and on.

b. We can call fornication swinging, if we are from a previous generation or

hooking up if we are up to date, but it the behavior is the same—sinful

sex.

c. We need not explore every sin of the flesh to get the point that relabeling

sin as something else does not change the personal and social

consequences.

B. Restricting behavior by external forces such as law and punishment.

1. We certainly need laws—laws that are enforced. However, according to

statistics given by the Bureau of Justice, of 300,000 prisons

released in 15 states in 1994, 67.5% of them were rearrested within three

years.

2. If external restraint of behavior changed the heart, righteousness would have

been by the Law of Moses (Gal 3:21).

3. It is God’s will in our hearts that not only changes behavior, but secures

forgiveness for misbehavior, or sin (Heb 8:7-13).

C. Reforming society: Society certainly needs to be reformed, but to reform

society, we must begin with reforming individuals; otherwise, we are treating the

symptoms not the instead of the “disease.”

1. For the right price, an “expert” can be bought who will excuse criminal act as a

disease, for which someone else is responsible (See the Affluenza Defense,

which tells of a 16-year-old Texan who stole alcohol, got drunk and killed four

people, but was sent to a half-million-dollar-a-year treatment center in

instead of jail. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/13affluenza-defense]

a. In this case, the “expert” put the blame on the rich parents who certainly

did a poor job of rearing the young man. In other cases the blame is

placed on all of us, but none of us.

b. As God is represented by the father in the Parable of the Prodigal son, I

suppose we can really point the finger at God. The elder brother did point

the finger at the father, when he said, “This son of yours,” refusing even to

call him “brother.”

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