According to the Bible, there is a kind of madness or insanity seen everywhere among the sons of men.
'This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead," Ecclesiastes 9:3.
What is this insanity said to be in the hearts of people? Not mental insanity, because there are many brilliant people. The text states that this insanity is located in the heart.
Heart insanity involves the will. In this Scripture God is discussing moral madness. At the center of the natural person, the volition is askew. Though man outwardly seems fine, likeable and brilliant, yet inwardly the heart leads him to embrace that of which God disapproves. "The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil," says the text.
Ironically, some of these same folks feel that earnest, spiritual people are the mad ones and they themselves are the sane ones. They have things exactly backwards! The friends of God are the only ones with sanity.
Are you prepared to allow the recesses of your own heart to be examined? Is there insanity down deep? God makes a serious charge here when He states that wide-spread madness is in people.
Men do not have to be trained to do wrong. Rather, "madness is in their heart while they live." It is there from the cradle to the grave, "and after that they go to the dead."
It is sobering to realize that many who impress us with their polish, personality or intelligence appear so different to God. He knows their conscience is cloudy and that their affections go after things which He hates.
With a cursory look at reality, the text proves this moral insanity. Ecclesiastes 8:17 explains that no man is able to grasp God's almightiness. In 9:1 the writer says in effect, "I realize that every man, whether he is a good man or a wicked man is in the hand of God."
This is a terror to one who is living wrong. What does such a wicked man then do? He decides not to think about it. He lives a lie. Madness is in his heart.
In contrast, the Christian rejoices that he is in God's hand. Even when passing through wind, fire and water, there is security.
The text continues to say that one event comes to all men alike - death! Whether rich or poor, good or bad, all men face the specter of physical death.
EVIDENCES OF INSANITY
1. Numbness Regarding the Great Fact of Death. Here is the evidence of this insanity, universal among men. There is a terrible numbness regarding death. The text says "madness is in their hearts while they live" - throughout their entire life - "and after that they go to the dead."
Consider the nearness of death. It is but a breath away from all of us. There are no handles upon our heart. We cannot keep it beating. Friend, a thousand times the merciful angels of God have saved you from death. Sometimes you noticed, but many times you were not conscious of it.
Think of the certainty of death. "As no one has power over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the time of their death." Ecclesiastes 8:8. No man can touch or cling to his spirit nor keep it one second longer than God allows. Death and judgment may be slow in coming but they are certain, v. 11.
Billions of people have died ahead of us. Literally, we are walking over the graves of past generations. Shall we live as if this great appointment does not exist? Jesus Himself pictured the torment in eternal hell, Luke 16:19-31. Failing to consider death and eternity is sheer madness.
Remember, too, the finality of death. There is no way to reverse things after death for "after this the judgment!" Hebrews 9:27.
2. Making Much of Time and Little of Eternity. The revivalist Charles Finney, speaking on this theme, gave still other evidences. Here in this world we live only a few hours, days or years at most. Then, we are forever in another place. However, men cling to the moments in this life as though this is everything. They prepare and store up for that which passes away like a vapor. "Madness is in their hearts."
3. Treating Fiction As if Reality. This is a mark of insanity. Men do this when they overlook spiritual things, God's concerns, and act as if material things have permanent value. An insane person always acts in this manner.
4. Little Concern for the Spirit; Much Concern for the Body. Suppose a relative of yours begins giving away thousands of dollars to people he does not know? Next, you find him on the street picking up little pebbles, dirty pieces of paper and caring nothing for his own home, his holdings, or his loved ones. He collects trash; he rejects everything of value. Would you not consider him mentally incompetent? This is what the text says about those who neglect eternal values.
5. Trying to be Happy and Safe in Sin. If you found one climbing an imaginary ladder to the moon, would you not declare him insane? Or, more gruesome still, if you came upon a man mangling his own body in an effort to enjoy longer life, would you not think him mad? This is precisely what men do in the spiritual realm. They follow their own imaginations, refusing to think of the judgment of God. Picture a large entertainment hall filled with pleasure-seekers. Suddenly, cries of "Fire!" Those near the wall where flames have broken through are screaming in terror. Some, already engulfed in firey fingers, breathe their last. Toward the center of the hall, some are beginning to collapse from the billowing smoke. In madness, tormented by the smoke and falling to the floor some, upon receiving a little fresh air, make every effort to continue their foolish game. Those on the far edge, where the fire and smoke have not yet reached, are continuing to dance - swinging and swayinq, forgetting their troubles. Within easy reach is a huge emergency fire door, built at great cost, inviting them to escape. Just so, men treat their eternal souls and neglect Jesus who said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved," John 10:9. That is man's insanity. They forget Calvary. They forget Christ Jesus shed His blood for their sins. Surely, madness is in their heart as they play near Hell's edge.
6. Mistreating Those Who Love Us the Most. Finney tells the pathetic story of the woman who struggled to keep her insane husband at home. She cared for him sacrificially. All the while, he screamed at her, cursing her, calling her a prostitute and a murderer. With tears streaming from her eyes, she explained her painful life to Mr. Finney. That is the way men treat God, the One Who loves us and gave His Son to die for us. And all the while there is "madness in their hearts while they live and after that they go to the dead."
Numbers of times, I have gone into institutions where the mentally and emotionally unbalanced are housed. Some are restrained and rave in their madness. Others are benumbed with strong medication. Some peer at you through bars, screaming horrible blasphemies. One man came up to me and said with a quiet sort of confidence, "I am God." Seeing my disbelief he added, "Yes, I created you." Swinging his long, over-sized coat around, he then turned and left.
Usually, it is with relief that one goes back into the outside world. But, don't be fooled. God says there is an entire world of people who have a worse insanity. Their wills are bent and distorted. They refuse to walk the rational and good way. Drawing their coats about them, they live as if they are God.
EXAMINATION OF THIS MADNESS
Let's look further at this insanity. Here are two essential descriptions of it.
1. Inability to Receive Rational Truth. Is this not the case with every kind of insanity? Passing all around us are transmissions from radio and TV channels. But, our eyes do not see the pictures nor do our ears hear the radio waves. They are not tuned properly. That is why man might be exposed to the very message I am bringing you without receiving anything of value. The words sweep across him but nothing registers. This is a pitiful characteristic of spiritual insanity.
I Corinthians 2:14 instructs us "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." You see, then, men have no receiver that is tuned to spiritual truth. And, what they are exposed to sounds foolish to them and unworthy of their life commitment. The will is bent, the affections distorted and the conscience hardened.
Once, I read of a young man dying without a clear knowledge of the truth. Realizing that his life was ebbing away he cried out to his friends, "Why did you not tell me that there is such a thing as eternal damnation? Oh I am going there. How can I die so! It is getting dark. Bring a light!" And then he died. Other people without a struggle, but as surely, pass through that dark door to die thus. When Jesus Christ offers life everlasting, this is nothing short of insanity, sheer madness of procrastination.
2. Inability to Please God. Romans 8:7,8 makes it clear that the natural attitudes of
men are contrary to God and His laws, so that they simply cannot please God. Until
man's very nature is changed, he will do the things that his human nature desires and will down deep be hostile to God.
However, this chapter goes on to explain that when we surrender to Jesus Christ,
His very Spirit enters and dwells within. We have a renewed nature, then. And, "as
many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of of God."
Right now it is hard to walk with God and express this new nature, when so many are doing what insane people are proned to do, that is, calling the way of sanity bigoted and mad. Things are backward in the mind of many. But one day the deception will all be over!
The hardened soldiers, who laughed when Jesus died, froze in fear at the glory of
one of His angels at the tomb. What will it be like in the day of blazing, radiant glory with the myriads of heaven's honor guards fully exposed before our eyes? And, above and beyond all of that, the heavenly glory of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God as He takes His place upon the great throne?
Ah, then there will be no more madness in men's hearts. Everything will be clear and men will bow before the Lord.
But, today hear God say, "Be still, be quiet, be sane and know that I am God." Now
believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead and lives to hear your prayer and rule your life.
May God bless you with a deep personal awakening. Amen.