Humanism (def) - an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to humans rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.
What evil does humanism have attached to it? Self-righteousness. In other words, if we were just "good" we would be right with God. Of course, it is good to be good. 1 Peter 1:16 says 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy. But holiness and goodness are not the same. In this verse we see the continued message from Peter about God being the "source" of everything we are and we will only find the life we should live within His holiness and not ours. Over a period of time if a born-again believer gets in the Word of God and learns of God's ways they will begin to live a more holy life. But we will never match God's holiness, so give up and give in to Him. We are made right with God because of what Jesus did on the cross, but we will still sin. Our redemption is God's answer to that sin and His Word causes us to become more in line with His will for our life if we follow it. The Holy Spirit in our life responds for us to be able to live this life of righteousness, but it is not our righteousness. It is God's righteousness.
Humanism wants to take this desire to be more like God to a level that is evil and distracting, even for believers. First of all, we still have an old nature that continues to try to rise up in our thinking and our lifestyle, but God's forgiveness keeps our line of contact intact with God. The old man, or natural man needs to be dealt with and the Holy Spirit and studying God's Word gives us tools to not only deal with the old man but subdue the old nature. If the natural man is calling the shots we will fall into an attitude of "picking ourselves up by our bootstraps", which is something maybe taught by a well-meaning adult in our life and that will always circumvent the trust of God. Why? Because we can do it. The truth is "We can't do it!"
Paul dealt with some philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens who had made this way of life their very existence, but they could not see it. To complement their "philosophies" about life they contrived many Gods by which they might explain why they thought the way they did. These philosophers were free thinkers who immersed themselves in their knowledge and not in God's wisdom and their minds took a wild trip that led them to think they could solve everything on their own. Humanists! The following verses in Acts 17 show what the Apostle Paul thought about all of their thinking. Acts 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city.17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
Because of our desire to "be good" and "do right," we also make idols for ourselves and sometimes those idols are ourselves. We begin to think we have everything figured out and our human reasoning talks us into thinking we are right apart from what God's Word says. It is at this point we have gone too far away from God's righteousness and we have put our trust in our righteousness, or just being good. So people who trust in this way of thinking will never come to faith in Jesus and realize true salvation because they are trusting in what they can do to get better. The rich young ruler was one such person and he walked away without being born-again because he could not get out of his way of thinking. He was rich and had been groomed to think if he just kept the commandments then he was going to be all right. Look at how Jesus dealt with his thinking. Luke 18:18 Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good. 20 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.”21 The man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 22 When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.
The rich young ruler made the mistake of calling Jesus a "good" teacher and Jesus set him straight on what true goodness is. Jesus said, "Only God is good." A common prayer at the dinner table is "God is great, God is good, now we thank Him for our food." There is more truth in that prayer than in the rich young ruler's attitude about what is "good." The only hope we have of "goodness" is what comes from God and nothing else. Even Jesus' disciples couldn't understand the truth of this and Jesus once again had to remind them in verse 27 He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”
Humanists will not be able to understand this so Jesus might say to them "Sell all you and give up all your life on this earth to get goodness" to which they will say "I can't do that." Because what God gave up for our sake "was" everything He could give and He made our salvation possible. God made a way for sinners to be made right and only He could do that for us. Not ourselves. Paul says this in Ephesians 2:8 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Humans are the problem because we are born with a sin "condition" that can only be removed by the blood of Jesus. Paul wrote this in Romans 10:9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. If we think we can do anything other than trust Christ to be saved, we will always fall short and the truth is not in us. Jesus addressed who His true disciples are in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
In Part 2 of this blog, I will bring to light how Paul dealt with humanistic thinking and show you the truth from God's Word about self-righteousness and false teachings. Stay tuned because God's Word is the source of all understanding.
The Pilgrimage Continues