This will be my first presidential election in which I’m eligible to vote—after obtaining my citizenship in 2014. Without a doubt, it has been one of a kind. Growing up in the Netherlands, most considered the U.S. presidential election a major circus, at least in comparison to what we were used to.
While I’ve been debating whether or not to enter this political arena with many wild beasts, ready to tear up any article they disagree with, I’ve yielded to the temptation. Why? There are four main points that must be heard. It doesn’t matter which political platform or person you’ll vote for … or not vote for.
In order not to be misunderstood, this article is not about endorsing a candidate or seeking to undermine one. It’s also not about whether or not to vote. Rather, it’s far weightier than that. To say that these four points are the real issues is a grave understatement. Any other issue is the difference between a split second and infinite. Here’s the first point:
The Representation of Human Nature
Since the list of vices (aka sins) has been overwhelmingly broadcasted of both candidates, I don’t see any need to specifically name them. I just want you to take a step back and look into the mirror—the mirror of sinful human nature. The wisest man once said: “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many [unrighteous and deceitful] schemes” (Eccl. 7:29). Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have evidently mirrored those schemes to us.
The apostle Paul defined our sinful nature as follows: “… filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” He then added: “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:29-31). That’s Paul’s description of the two candidates and of all human beings.
Unless a person, including any previous president or one who has run for that office, has been born again, he is at full enmity with God, even if Paul’s summarization is wrapped in the best morality and the sincerest religiosity. At the core of his being this is still true: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9 NKJV).
Addressing Christians, Paul described his pre-salvation state with these words: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Doesn’t that describe this presidential election? Keep in mind that Paul included himself and he was one of the most “moral” and “religious” person that walked this earth.
Interestingly, right before he stated anyone’s pre-salvation reality, he wrote: “. . . to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy [humility and meekness] toward all people” (Titus 3:2). Why? In that third verse he gave the reason: “For we ourselves . . .” Any sin that has been highlighted of the candidates isn’t foreign to us because we have the same sinful nature and tendencies. Obviously, because both live in the limelight, their sins are more easily observed and recounted.
The Hypocrisy of the Self-Righteous
After Paul had described our sinful nature in the first chapter of Romans, he continued: “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things” (Rom. 2:1). Fallen human nature is a mirror. We see ourselves in it.
I want to ask everyone who condemned Donald Trump for his “locker-room” talk: have you ever lusted after another woman? Jesus made it clear that it’s not only our words or actions, but what’s in our heart: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). He also said, describing human nature: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19).
Why did Paul admonish Christians “to show perfect courtesy [humility and meekness] toward all people,” especially in light of stating his pre-salvation, sinful state? Could it be that he deeply knew from what God had saved him? Could he see himself in those who weren’t saved?
We shouldn’t be surprised or shocked when we hear the many sins of both candidates. Actually, it’s far and far worse than we or even they realize. We should also be very careful not to make self-righteous claims as though we are, by nature, somehow better. Paul wrote on several occasions that the best morality is opposed to Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Any difference between those who are saved and those who aren’t is solely based on “the goodness and loving kindness of God.” It’s entirely according to his own mercy” (Titus 3:4-5).
Therefore, I find it interesting that those who now distance themselves from Donald Trump because of the “locker-room” tapes—and even call for him to step down—didn’t do so previously based on what Paul wrote about him (and us!) in his first chapter of Romans. Outright enmity toward God is a far greater issue than his talk—that’s just a symptom.
The Obvious Need for a Gracious Savior
So … should we just bury our head in the sand and let things play out as they will? Let’s not condemn anyone? After Paul had described our sinful nature and stated that the moral and religious crowd were not any better, he continued with the only answer: we need Jesus to save us!
Whether one is an open and blatant sinner (Rom. 1:18-32), or one who wraps his depravity into moral and religious acts (Rom. 2:1-24), everyone needs to be saved from his obvious and hidden sins. That’s the main point of this presidential election! The blatant and self-righteous sins of both candidates have been highlighting their and our need for a Savior.
Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12-13). Jesus came to call those who know their heart is desperately sick. Obviously, only those who realize the severity of their case are the ones who pursue the great Physician.
No matter what kind of sin or how “desperately wicked” our heart is, there’s real hope because of Jesus Christ. Later on in Romans Paul wrote: “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). By simple faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ we can be saved from our sinful state. That’s the real need in this presidential election and throughout our lives.
The Only Hope for a Glorious Restoration
In First Corinthians Paul wrote: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). While taking some liberty: if we set our hope on a candidate, “we are of all people most to be pitied.” We live in a fallen, sinful world with fallen and sinful people.
To Timothy Paul wrote: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:12-13). For Christians things will not grow better, at least from a human perspective. Our greatest need is to grow deeper and more firmly in “the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Our hope is not found in this world, but has been “laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:5). It’s the hope of Christ’s Second Coming when He will make all things new. He will then create “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Unless your life is built upon that hope, you’ll be easily swayed by the political storms that are coming. In the meantime, we groan with all of creation until it “will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21)
Jesus and Jesus only should be our rock-solid foundation in this presidential election and not any political candidate, no matter how promising he or she may seem. As Edward Mote wrote: “All other ground is sinking sand” (The Solid Rock). Will you join me in seeking to find more of this rock-solid ground by faith? Let’s ask God to establish us more firmly upon the Rock who will bring us safely home. Let’s close with these encouraging and admonishing words from Hebrews:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. . . . But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:13-16).
Author of Battling Sexual Temptations and Sins