Remember that line? If you are old enough, you will recall that it is a song from Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming album in 1969. And he was correct. So, this begs the question- who you will server?
Some churches say – the church and you are sanctified through that glorifying work.
Society for the most part says – the community, with secular sanctification gained by good works for your fellow man.
Post-modern Society seems to say – yourself, assisting the social order by actualizing your own talents to the fullest for the common good through yourself.
But all of these beliefs are Biblically dead wrong, because they hing upon a subtle but fatally incorrect assumption. They assume that by definition man has a good nature. From this they infer that given the proper environment, sociological support and other appropriate conditions, he will develop and work to the common good in a way that can be consider fundamentally pleasing. This foundational good is assumed as a birthright, often referred to as “innocence”. It also usually assumes no absolute standard of truth by which to objectively judge these matters, treating them a evolving and fluid.
But of course we do have a standard of absolute truth in the inerrant Word of God, provided by the sovereign Creator of all that is. What, then, does the Bible say about this?
“as it is written
THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” Romans 3:10-12
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23
In other words, the society assumption of intrinsic good, which, if provided with the correct support, will cause society to evolve towards perfection, is based upon the exact opposite of the true nature of man.
As part of Adam’s seed, men (and you too, ladies) are by nature fallen. This fallen state means that they are tainted through every particle of their being. This does not mean that they can not to good things that help society and people, but it does mean that since every action or even intent is overshadowed or tainted by sin, no action or intent can please God – no even one! Even the most seemingly righteous act is “like a filthy garment” (Isaiah 64:6) from the viewpoint of the Lord. It offends him by definition and is deserving of only punishment. Admittedly stern stuff, yet the message of Scripture.
So long as a man is unregenerate, he can not act in an untainted manner. As such, since all that he is and does in unacceptable to God can not be acceptable to serve Him, it must by definition serve the only other thing left, world of flesh (there is no middle ground). And who is the Prince of the Air (Ephesians 2:2) and Prince of this World (John 14:30) but Satan. Thus, we have the fallen, unregenerate as the unconscious bond servants of Satan. Pretty scare indeed! This is the default position of all of man as their birthright, not the good nature that society would like to believe in.
In order for this predicament to be altered, external action is required. It is like a blind man, who does know that he is blind or have any idea that there is in fact a sense of sight. Until he is given vision, not only can he not see but he has no desire to see. For fallen man, since his actual nature is an anathema to the things of God (that is, the opposite of the world), man by definition will actively reject the things of God because they fly in the face of what he is. He can not be otherwise since it would be against his nature.
The result for men, when confronted but the truth is “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” 1 Corinthians 1:18. And worse, this “foolishness” will often be expressed as animosity since it threatens who they are.
That is the state of the unregenerate – all men by birth.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
This is the only answer – the proactive replacement of the nature of a man by God. Once that is in place, though the individual is still in the world they are not of the world.
“…As it is, you do not belong to the world…” John 15:19
The result is a turning towards Christ by nature, just as surely as the old nature resulted in a turned away.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27.
The predisposition is now turned 180 degrees, and the individual wants to, yearns, is driven to follow Christ by their very nature. What was foolishness is now perceived as wisdom, with great rejoicing.
We now serve Him and can not do otherwise. Our nature is now, as Paul expresses it – “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
It is true that “You hav’ta serve someone”. Let us rejoice that for us it is Christ Jesus. May all the Glory be to Him!