Who Can Change the Leopard's Spots?
Romans 3:9-20 & Jeremiah 13:23
The best teachers are those that are able to implant ideas in our heads and make us believe they are our own. Most of the so-called educators we have experienced are just prompters – they keep us at the task and hope we remember something of what we have heard or read. I recall spending a good portion of my school days preparing for tests only to forget most of what I studied within a short time. One is not truly educated until he or she has been made to think and reason in order to reach a conclusion. It was for this reason that Jesus used parables. He knew that illustrations stick in our memories.
The Book of Jeremiah is filled with thought provoking questions. This one in particular leads us to a better understanding of human nature. It has often been said of preachers that we stress the dark side of human nature and that we fail to give enough attention to what is good in humankind. Let me be blunt – apart from Christ there is absolutely nothing good in the nature of human beings! Goodness is not just behavior. It has to do with the way we think and believe. It arises only from the proper understanding of the differences between God and ourselves. Only in relationship with Him is He able to impart to us a measure of His goodness.
The color of a man’s skin and the spots of a leopard are natural. There is nothing either can do to change what he is. Likewise, sin is natural to humankind. It has become so much a part of our nature as to be irremovable by any conventional means. The age-old question, “Why do good people suffer while evil flourishes?” assumes a false reality. All the suffering of man, from the beginning till the present, is the result of sin. It colors every choice we make and its influence has pulled down every mother’s son but one. It is in that One exception that we have our hope!
a. Sin dominates our minds
b. Sin dominates our will
c. Sin dominates our emotions and our affections
d. Sin subjects all creation to misery
I. Can Human Beings Overcome Their Nature?
A. Theoretically, the answer is yes
1. We are created with the will to choose
2. Jesus proved that it was possible
B. In reality, the answer is no
1. Our nature is just too corrupted
2. We lie to ourselves – like a drunk that believes himself able to drive safely
C. Sin is addictive
1. It fascinates and enslaves the mind
2. It feeds on itself and continues to grow
II. Then Why Do We Preach Repentance?
A. We are commanded to do so
1. To make the truth known – thus removing every excuse
2. Our inability is not God’s liability*
3. God does not lower His standard simply because we cannot meet it
B. Despair is the handmaiden of hope*
1. Our preaching removes every option but one
2. People must be held accountable
III. A Better Question
A. Can human nature be overcome?
1. What man cannot do, God can readily do!
2. God declares us justified at the moment we are forgiven
3. Sanctification begins after regeneration
B. What part do we play?
1. To believe and have faith in God to change us
2. To tell others the Good News