Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Two Sides of the Same Coin April 18, 2013

Filed under: Humility — Janie Kellogg @ 7:07 pm
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Sometimes I fear that my readers think I have gone over the edge on my conclusions of depravity and humility. I fully realize that what I am saying on these two subjects is not popular in the mainstream of Christianity today.

Even though these are two different subjects, they are best described as two sides of the same coin. Like the song: “love and marriage….go together like a horse and carriage….you can’t have one without the other,” so it is with depravity and humility. If you see your own depravity, you will be humble; and if you are humble, you can easily see your own depravity.

My generation has now heard 30+ years of name it—claim it teaching: God wants me to be prosperous, my destiny is greatest, I’m being groomed to bloom, and many other trendy ideas have filled the airways and the pulpits for years. Actually, these popular teachings, for the most part, do not address either depravity or humility. Whether we want to admit it or not, our beliefs have been shaped or at least influenced by these modern-day trends in Christianity, perhaps to our demise.

Every concept or teaching must first be weighed in the light of God’s Word. If it doesn’t pass the test there, it should be discarded altogether. If it does pass the test, it is also beneficial to weigh it in the light of what others know about the subject, especially those with a trusted and proven track record.

Therefore, in an effort to add some muscle (if you will) to my conclusions on depravity and humility, I have chosen to post a few quotes by renowned Christians. These quotes are from recognized authors, speakers, preachers and teachers of God’s Word, many of which helped shape Christianity as we know it today. They are certainly people who have helped shape my thinking on these issues.

Obviously, these two subjects are important, as many well-known writers thought they were important enough to write about them. Within their writings, we discover that these two things have a huge impact on the spiritual condition of all mankind.

The quotes are being posted on my blog under a separate title: What Other Writers Say about Depravity & Humility. Because it often takes years for this hidden mystery to unfold, I recommend that you print them and then take ample time to slowly digest and discern them for yourself.

The valuable insight to be gained from understanding these two words will enable us to press forward into the freedom that God provides—freedom from the devastating effects of the fall in the Garden of Eden. But unless we recognize and acknowledge those effects for what they are, we will never be able to deal with them according to knowledge, and at last, be freed from them.

Our next stop on this journey is the marvelous revelation found in Romans Chapter 8, but in order to do so, we must first grasp this concept here and now. If we do not, we will simply read Chapter 8 again for the one-thousandth time, our eyes will glaze over, and we will think we see it, when actually, we do not. We will accept the same teaching we have heard before, and the mystery hidden in this powerful chapter will elude us once again.

God is forever faithful to His promise that those who seek shall find. I believe great victory is just ahead for each of us! ~ Janie Kellogg

Other Related posts in Treasure in Earthen Vessels: What Other Writers Say about Depravity and Humility, April 18, 2013

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What Other Writers Say about Depravity and Humility

Filed under: Humility — Janie Kellogg @ 7:03 pm
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For clearer explanation of this post please read “Two Sides of the Same Coin” published on Treasure in Earthen Vessels website on April 18, 2013.

 

In an effort to add some muscle to my conclusions on depravity and humility, I have chosen to share a few quotes by renowned Christians. These quotes, presented as food for thought, are written by recognized authors, speakers, preachers and teachers of God’s Word. Many of them are men and women who helped shape Christianity as we know it today. References for the longer quotes are given at the bottom of the post.

 

Please read these selected writings slowly, and if possible, print them so you can give adequate time to digesting and discerning them for yourself. I believe these vital topics have been ignored, if not completely omitted from much modern-day Christian teaching, and I fear that the Church of today is suffering greatly because of it.

 

Chris Tiegreen ~ We praise this high and holy God for His power and majesty. Do we also praise Him for His humility? We can; we serve a humble God. He did not ride into this world on a gilded chariot. He was born in a stable. He left His radiant appearance to be clothed in a human body subject to temptation and pain. We are not worthy to utter His name, but He tells us to call Him Father and Friend….Consider the humility of God. The high and holy One is never inaccessible to someone with a contrite spirit. He encourages your intimacy with Him. He’ll even wash your feet.1

 

D.L. Moody ~ God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.

 

Andrew Murray ~ The salvation that Christ brought is not only a salvation that flows out of humility; it also leads to humility. We must understand that this is not only the salvation which Christ brought; but that it is exactly the salvation which you and I need. What is the cause of all the wretchedness of man? Primarily pride; man seeking his own will and his own glory. Yes, pride is the root of every sin, and so the Lamb of God comes to us in our pride, and brings us salvation from it. We need above everything to be saved from our pride and our self-will; it is good to be saved from the sins of stealing, murdering, and every other evil; but a man needs above all to be saved from what is the root of all sin, his self-will and his pride.2

 

Benjamin Franklin ~ A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

 

J. Oswald Sanders ~ Humility, the antithesis of pride, has been defined….as the virtue by which man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness. We never conquer a sin of which we are unconscious or over which we do not grieve. We must hate what God hates. Self-knowledge is not easy to come by, as we are all so prepossessed in our own favor. We see the splinter in our brother’s eye with great clarity but, with strange inconsistency, fail to detect the plank in our own. We need to genuinely ask God to expose us to ourselves. When we see ourselves as we truly are, we will sink in self-abasement.3

 

Oswald Chambers ~ Self complacency and spiritual pride are always the beginning of degeneration. When I begin to be satisfied with where I am spiritually, I begin to degenerate.

 

Charles Spurgeon ~ Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies with us.

 

F. B. Meyer ~ I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we should reach them. I find now that God’s gifts are on shelves beneath the other, and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower, and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.4

 

Ann Voskamp ~ Humility isn’t burden or humiliation or oppressive weight but humility is the only posture than can receive the wondrous grace gifts of God—God who humbled Himself and came to the feed trough.5

 

Sarah Young ~ In her book Jesus Calling, Christ speaks in first person: “Though you are an earthen vessel, I designed you to be filled with heavenly contents. Your weakness is not a deterrent to being filled with My Spirit; on the contrary, it provides an opportunity for My Power to shine forth more brightly.”6

 

Donald G. Stamps ~ Christianity is not the removal of weakness, nor is it merely the manifestation of divine power. Rather, it is the manifestation of divine power through human weakness.7

 

V. Raymond Edman ~ Climbing in the Spirit is accomplished by kneeling and not by running; by surrender, and not by determination….First, there is a hunger of heart, often followed by a sense of desperation that leads to utter surrender of self. Thereafter, there is the meeting of the soul with God in whatever manner the Almighty is pleased to reveal Himself to the desperate seeker who, like Jacob, will not let Him go until there is blessing.8

 

J.I. Packer ~ For only at the point where the insufficiency of natural strength is faced, felt, and admitted, does divine empowerment begin….Divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness….If I could remember each day of my life, that the way to grow stronger is to grow weaker, if I would accept that each day’s frustration, obstacles, and accidents are God’s ways of making me acknowledge my weakness, so that growing stronger might become a possibility for me, if I did not betray myself into relying on myself—my knowledge, my experience, my position, my skill with words, and so on—so much of the time, what a difference it would make to me!… May God in His great mercy weaken us all! 9

 

A.W. Tozer ~ The inner veil is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power. To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our nature to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them….Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can never be removed only in spiritual experience; never by mere instruction…..There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment.10

 

Hannah Whitall Smith ~ The “old man” is, of course, the self-life, and this self-life (which we know only too well is indeed corrupt according to deceitful lusts) is not to be improved but to be put off. It is to be crucified….It is of no use, then, for us to examine self and to tinker with it in the hope of improving it, for the thing the Lord wants us to do with it is to get rid of it.11 

 

Cora Harris MacIlravy ~ Let us remember that the Lord does not pour the Spikenard of Humility upon the evil odors of our pride and arrogance. It is easy to ask God to adorn us with humility and enable us to be lost sight of in Christ. But the process, through which we must pass to receive the answer to this prayer, is the way of the cross and suffering. It is ever taking sides against ourselves; it is refusing to pity our own suffering; it is taking sides against all the workings and evil odors of our pride, self-confidence and self-seeking. For only when the alabaster box is cleansed of these self-workings, can it be filled with the Spikenard of Humility.12

 

Amy Carmichael ~ If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

 

We must never be dismayed over the wretchedness of man, for “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). Great victory awaits those who will humble themselves and ask God to allow them see the hidden mysteries of the gospel. ~ Janie Kellogg

*Note: In all quotes above, emphasis has been added to words shown in italics.

 

1Chris Tiegreen, The One-Year at His Feet Devotional (Netherlands: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003), 195.

2Andrew Murray, The Master’s Indwelling, 34.

3J. Oswald Sanders, quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 75.

4F. B. Meyer, quoted in Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010), 171.

5Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010), 171.

6Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 100.

7Donald G. Stamps, Life in the Spirit Study Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), Notes for 2 Corinthians 4:7, 1816.

8V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1960, 1984), 53.

9J. I. Packer quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 90.

10A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Wingspread Publishers, 1982, 1993), 42-43.

11Hannah Whitall Smith, quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 63.

12Cora Harris MacIlravy, Christ and His Bride (Chicago, Illinois: The Elbethel Christian Work, 1916), 86.

 

How Low Can You Go? April 11, 2013

Sometimes this Christian life feels like I’m stuck in third grade! You know what I mean—we want to move on to higher things, but the Teacher says we’re not ready yet. Seems we haven’t nailed down the basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic. Perhaps the multiplication tables are not laid in stone, and because of it, our progress is hindered.

 

So it goes with my progress to be like Jesus. I know I’m saved and on my way to heaven, but this sanctification process is grueling. I want to discover all the amazing things God wants me to know, experience, and incorporate into my everyday life. But I’m stuck here—in Romans Chapter 7.

 

For fear that some may lag behind, it is necessary to linger long in the hidden truths in Chapter 7. The Apostle Paul clearly describes a carnal Christian in these hard-to-own words: “for what I want to do, I do not do; but what I hate, I do.”1 Sounds just like me, and I must find out why.

 

On my non-stop search for answers, I find this:  “God’s means for greatness are not climbing up the ladder, but going down,” writes Chris Tiegreen.2 “He who is least among you all, he is the greatest.”3

 

Yet another hard pill to swallow in American culture: going down. That couldn’t possibly be the way to greatness, could it? It so goes against the grain.

 

Against the grain of what? Let’s examine. Against the grain of self-achievement, self-sufficiency, self-worth, self-esteem, self-made, self-taught, self-anything! That is the grain that going down works against: S-E-L-F.

 

Jesus taught and modeled the exact opposite. The Son of God said, “I do nothing on my own.” 4 If Jesus needed God, how much more do we? How then do we get God doing for us? Here is the mystery—fully hidden from the proud and self-sufficient—we go lower.

 

Whether we like it or not, humility is the way to God. There is no other way, but to admit helplessness (depravity) and depend on God. The lower we go the more of God we get. Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”5 See it! Peter urges us to “humble yourselves under God’s Mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time.”6

 

Being lifted up any way other than God’s lifting won’t last—it will eventually collapse.

 

Humility and depravity—words that come to our aid—position us correctly before an Almighty God. We’ve tried everything else—self-help books, self-taught Bible studies, self-sanctification efforts—all have failed us. Are we not yet ready to try the proven path found in God’s Word?

 

It is time that we stop our self-efforts, cease from our own works, and toss our 10-step plan to successful Christian living out the window, and go lower.

 

Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”7 Why? We are in the wrong position to receive more truth from God. It could be that fourth grade material is just too hard for us. We cannot grasp it yet, not in this position.

 

Where then is the right position? Somewhere lower and we must find it.

 

Let us seek a place away from the world’s activities, away from the TV, the music, and even the books. Shut it all down and get still before God. Bring every thought into captivity. Do not entertain any thoughts of pride or self-achievement; they destroy our ability to find God and fellowship with Him.

 

Seek God’s presence. Crave His presence. Cry out for His presence. Learn what is required to acquisition His presence, and then wait for Him.

 

Are we quiet enough yet to hear His still small voice? Have we heard Him call our name today? Have we learned to practice His presence on our knees, in our closet, until we hear Him say, “You are mine?” We simply must stay there until we do.

 

If we still cannot hear the voice of God, there is only one option—go even lower. ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:15; 2At His Feet One-Year Devotional, Chris Tiegreen, Sept. 21; 3 Luke 9:48; 4John 8:28; 5 2 Cor. 12:10; 61 Peter 5:6; 7John 16:12

Also see Treasure in Earthen Vessels post: A Hard Pill to Swallow, and God Wants Me to Fail.

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God Wants Me to Fail April 2, 2013

That’s absurd! What do you mean: God wants me to fail? That sounds like false doctrine, especially in this age of prosperity for all believers. Of course God doesn’t want me to fail.

 

Oh yes, He does, and the sooner the better. Here’s why.

 

The sooner—we make the journey through the wretched condition of man described in Romans Chapter 7, enslaved to the flesh, and move on to the victorious proclamation found in Romans Chapter 8—the better.

 

Unfortunately, getting through Chapter 7 is a process that can take years. Some Christians are stuck in the quagmire of Chapter 7 for half a life-time—yours truly for one—until God granted seeing eyes to the marvelous escape hatch.

 

When Paul found that escape hatch, he boldly proclaimed: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”1 Can we say that? Have we escaped yet? A personal answer is required from each of us, for God delivers His children one life at a time.

 

But how can we rise up out of that place of wretchedness? It happens only when we discover that all of our self-efforts are futile and wasted, and begin to embark—get on board with—the central message of the gospel: Jesus came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

 

Face the TRUTH: We cannot save ourselves. We cannot sanctify ourselves. WE CANNOT!

 

Our “self” can never please God.

Our “self” can never keep the law.

Our “self” can never be whipped into obedience and trained to be good.

Our “self” is a hopeless cause.

 

When we grasp this fact—the undeniable total depravity of man—we are on our way to freedom. (Read that again.)

 

Whether we realize it or not, we have a false belief that there is at least some good in man—well, in me anyway. But Paul said, “In my flesh dwells no good thing.”2 With all of Paul’s credentials, surely he had something good in him, but not so. And neither do you and me.

 

Do I know that in my flesh dwells no good thing? (Read that question slower.) If we don’t, we have not yet come to the end of ourselves. Until we reach the end of self we will not be able to move on into the deliverance that awaits those who will admit the truth: “In MY flesh dwells NO GOOD thing.” In other words, I ADMIT THAT I AM DEPRAVED!

 

Accept self’s defeat, get over it, and move on into the glorious provision that awaits us in Romans Chapter 8. However, we will never see it until we accept depravity. God will not allow us to. He didn’t give insight to the proud, self-sufficient Pharisees. Neither will He give it to us.

 

Jesus pointed out two types of people who came to pray. One was a proud, self-righteous, keeper of the law, a Pharisee who was glad he wasn’t like other people. The other man fell to his knees, smote his breast, could not as much as lift his eyes, and prayed for mercy.3  There it is—depravity!

 

Which one went away justified? Which one went away with God’s favor? More importantly, which one are you and I? Do we still keep a mental list of all the good deeds we’ve done for God; for others? Or how much money we’ve given to His cause? Do we still hang onto a shred of goodness in us? Do we see ourselves just a little better off than others?

 

We will soon see that it is all about our position. Are we positioned where God can do something for us? And where might that place be? Depravity! See it?

 

Want out of the quagmire? Admit you are a failure—quickly! It is in your best interest. Romans Chapter 8 is the next stop along this journey. Get ready for it. “Learn Christ, on your knees, my child, on your knees.”4  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:25; 2Romans 7:18; 3Luke 18:9-14; 4A Gentle Spirit, Barbour Publishing, July 1

Other related posts at Treasures in Earthen Vessels: There’s a Whole Lot of Living Going On ~ January 29, 2013; A Hard Pill to Swallow ~ March 28, 2012

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A Hard Pill to Swallow March 26, 2013

I struggle to obey my Lord and repent again. I nearly think I am hopeless. Could God have intentionally made it this hard?

 

I doubt that I am the only one who struggles with this. Recently, in an online devotional, The Pursuit of Righteousness, Gary Wilkerson confirmed that I am not. He wrote: “God will not bless an effort to establish one’s own righteousness.”

 

Is that what I am trying to do when I attempt to discipline my flesh? Certainly, it needs to be done, but why am I such a habitual failure at doing it?

 

Could the problem be my motive? If I could do this thing—which obviously I can’t—I would become proud and say, “If I can do it, so can you.” But I can’t make myself righteous or keep myself righteous. A simple, true, cold hard fact!

 

Wilkerson ends with these words, “This calls for a repentant heart and brokenness—a humble acknowledgement that His power alone restores us to right standing.”

 

To be honest, I have gone in circles for years. My journals are written testimony against me. So why do I keep trying? How many failures does it take to make the point? Albert Einstein said it well, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

 

I can’t do it within my own power. Finally, there it is—a true confession, an acknowledgement of my utter helplessness to change myself. Depravity in a nutshell!

 

Depravity (dē-prav′ ə tē) crookedness; a depraved condition; corruption; wickedness.1

 

It just lies there in Webster’s dictionary, mostly unused and unwanted. It’s certainly not needed in the American culture—the land of plenty, of the educated, of the successful. This land where anyone can be all that they can be; the land of rights—individual, personal, equal—clearly the land of increase.

 

It is a hard pill to swallow—this word depravity. The flesh resists it with all the strength it has. The enemy of our souls will desperately try to talk us out of it—sidetrack us to somewhere else, anywhere else. Just don’t go there—not to depravity.

 

Yet, John the Baptist said this about Jesus:2

 

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (KJV)

“He must become great; I must become less. (NIV)

“He must come greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (NLT)

“He must become more important, but I must become less important.” (ISV)

 

How much plainer must it be said? If we look closely with seeing eyes, one mystery of the Kingdom of God is opened to us. It’s the decrease that is so painful, so against the grain of our beliefs, our life-long pursuit for promotion. Yet, the clear call to Jesus’ followers is to decrease; become less; become less and less; and become less important.

 

We are so unaccustomed to the word depravity. It almost seems, well, you know—small—so undesirable, unattractive, and certainly not my desired destiny.

 

Think again. Jesus plainly told His followers their destiny: “Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.”3 Or, “whoever wants to be great among you must become your servant.”4

 

Depravity has a message of great value for us. We just haven’t seen it. No one told us to look for it, as if it is a despised word. Even in Jesus’ teachings, it eludes the proud, the religious, and those who lord themselves over others. But it is there, a clear message tucked within this inverted gospel.

 

Depravity makes the cross more understandable—yet that kind of love so non-understandable. We couldn’t do it for ourselves, so for love, Jesus did it for us. Why do I keep trying to accomplish something I can’t do and not fully accept that which has been done for me—my salvation and my sanctification?

 

Seek depravity. Chase after it. Hunger and thirst for its value. When you catch a glimpse, ask for more. Don’t settle for a glimpse; plead with God to see it fuller still. Grasp it. Embrace it. It is a long-forgotten, overlooked word that renders great treasures to our Christian lives. ~Janie Kellogg

 

1Webster’s New World College Dictionary; 2John 3:30; 3Matthew 16:24 (NIV); 4Matthew 20:26 (NIV)

 

Other Related Posts at Treasure in Earthen Vessels:  The Inverted Gospel – Archives – January 23, 2013; Just For Love It Was Done – Archives – March 20, 2013

 

Just For Love It Was Done March 20, 2013

The words of a song run through my head again and again. Like water over a falls, they keep coming and coming—“Just for love it was done.”

 

That single line from the song Broken and Spilled Out1 drives me to take a fresh look at the familiar story told in Matthew 26. Mary broke that alabaster box of rare perfume—her own special treasure—and spilled it out on Jesus only days before His crucifixion. The song says she lavished it on him. One of the meanings of lavished is heaped. Picture that—heaping something on Jesus.

 

The second verse of the song reverses the concept:  God gave His own special treasure—His beloved Son—and poured Him out for me. It too was lavished, or heaped on me. The whole idea baffles me, but the words that continue to pour through my mind are the reason God heaped this special treasure on me:  Just for love it was done!

 

Just for love it—with it being the garden, the sleeping friends, the betrayal kiss, the cock-crowing denial, the false accusers, the illegal trial, the scourging, the thorny crown, the heavy cross, the climb up Golgotha, the nails, the mocking, the jeering, the spit, the tossed dice, the mother’s broken heart. It, all of it —was done just for love.

 

How could God love me that much? Me—a sinner, a betrayer, a less-than-faithful follower, a denier, a failure! It just doesn’t make sense. If I were a prize or maybe some great person, but I’m not. God only knows how many times I’ve tried and failed to live holy; made the promise again; then broke it again.

 

I can’t get my mind around those words.  “Just for love it was done” doesn’t require a condition of greatness by the object that is loved; they simply reveal the character of the Lover.

 

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one2….For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”3

 

I am among the “all,” one of the “worthless.” Yet, just for love it was done. How am I to respond to such love? The only thing that seems suitable is returning in-kind love. In-kind means to give something that is equivalent to what has been received.

 

Is that not exactly what God longs for –those who will receive His love and respond in-kind? After all, what else can we give God in return? We have no money or possessions for they all belong to Him.4 Even our days are in His hands; our children on loan. What can I give in return for that kind of love?

 

In-kind love. Equivalent love. Am I capable of giving equivalent love?

 

“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”5

 

Could seeing and assessing my own depravity be the key to loving God much? To giving Him equivalent love?

 

Depravity is a word that demands exploration. Rejected by human reasoning, it could be the very key that unlocks the mysteries of God for us. We must carefully peel away the layers from around it lest we miss the tremendous value that awaits us within this one single word. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Broken and Spilled Out ~ written by Gloria Gaither and Bill George; 2Romans 3:10-12; 3Romans 3:23;   4Deutronomy10:14; 5Luke 7:47