Why Advent? I posed this question in a sermon I preached on the first Sunday of Advent and ask it now to you. In asking the question, I am not asking what Advent is, what one might do during Advent, or what is the purpose of Advent. I am asking why Advent is necessary. In an attempt to answer this question, I offer three separate but connected points.
First, the Fall.
In Genesis 3 we find the Fall of mankind. When approached by the serpent Eve’s first response is to not accurately report what God had said but to add to it. As her conversation with serpent continues, she begins to see the fruit of the forbidden tree differently and uses her own reason to determine if she should or should not eat of the fruit. She disregards the command of God and determines independently that she should have the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Keil and Delitzsch offer these words regarding Eve’s desires and actions and those of her husband Adam,
“The illusive hope of being like God excited a longing for the forbidden fruit…..As distrust of God’s command leads to a disregard of it, so the longing for a false independence excites a desire for the seeming good that has been prohibited; and this desire is fostered by the senses, until it brings forth sin. Doubt, unbelief, and pride were the roots of the sin of our first parents, as they have been of all the sins of their posterity.”
Nothing much has changed since the Fall. We still desire to sit in God’s place and rule ourselves autonomously. God commands and we distrust it and soon disregard it. Much is the same in our response to being told no. We are told no and almost instantly a desire for what has been prohibited rises up within us. We perceive that we are somehow being shortchanged or that we are deserving of what has been prohibited. We might not voice it, but we state with our desires that God is unjust, unkind, or even punitive for having not given us what has been prohibited. We begin to doubt his goodness, greatness, and/or wisdom. We often then turn to our own devices, our own scheming in order to devise a way to obtain what has been prohibited assuming that we know better than our Creator what we need, when we need it, and how much of it we need.
Man is in a predicament created by his own folly and there is no way he can escape on his own. Only God can rescue man from this situation. Only God can pull man out of the pit he dug and into which he jumped.
Second, the heart of man is wicked.
This wickedness is seen in Cain and his response to God’s rejection of his offering. When God rejects his offering the jealousy and anger that were in Cain’s heart come spilling out. They eventually lead to him killing his brother and then lying to God. In Genesis 6:5 we are told,
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Psalm 14:1 states,
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.”
Jeremiah 17:9 proclaims,
“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Matthew 15:16-19 and Mark 7:21-23 teach us that it is what comes out of us that defiles us. Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, thefts, false witnesses, slanders, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, pride, and foolishness.
“All of these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:23).
The heart of man is deceitful, wicked, and harbors within it every evil deed and every vile practice. Out of the heart comes all that defiles man. His only hope is to be given a new heart with new desires.
Finally, the deeds of man demonstrate what is in his heart..
Romans 1:18-32 clearly teaches this reality. Paul teaches us in this section that man willfully pushes down, suppresses, the truth about God in unrighteousness. What can be known about God is clear to man in the created order but man, in his sin, rejects this witness and suppresses the truth. He chooses not to honor God or to give Him thanks. Man exchanges the glory of the immortal God for images of the creation. He exchanges the truth about God for a lie and worships the creation, including self, rather than the Creator. As a result, God gives them up to dishonorable passions and a debased mind to do what ought not to be done and they are filled with all manner of unrighteousness. Once God is not honored as God, idols begin to be set up. The fundamental issue is a rejection of God. Out of this rejection flows all manner of wickedness.
We have suppressed the truth about what is known about God. We do not honor God as God or give him thanks. We exchange the glory of the immortal God for images of mortal man and created things. We exchange the truth about God for a lie. We worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.
The Heart of Man.
The Deeds of Man
“What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”
By His Grace Alone,