Like millions of other red-blooded American men I went and watched Spiderman 3 last week. By the time the credits rolled, I had seen a man gripped by the passions of vanity, self-centeredness, pride, power, fame, lust, arrogance and vengeance. I had seen a man enjoy and revel in these passions, actively seek their increase in his life, and then witness the destruction of himself and others that they left in their wake.
No, I’m not talking about Peter Parker.
I was referring to me. My sin nature.
Not being a woman, I don’t know what the sin nature “feels like” in a woman’s soul. But I can tell you, it feels real close, uncomfortably close, to Peter Parker in my soul. And if you’re a guy and you say to me that you can’t identify with Mr. Parker, “No, I’m never tempted to want
people attractive women to think I’m special, I have never had someone mistreat me that I wanted to see get “what was coming” to them, I have never used whatever type of power or prestige I possessed to feed my ego” then I suggest you take the log out of your eye and take a hard look in the mirror.
C. S. Lewis once commented that the Puritans had Christianity right when they considered that,
One essential symptom of the regenerate life is a permanent, and permanently horrified, perception of one’s natural and (it seems) unalterable corruption. The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool.
Strong words, “to be contually attentive to the inner cesspool.” That’s not a very popular idea in Christian or non-Christian circles, to be continually on the watch for the evil that is within us. I find it very telling that the scriptwriters for Spiderman 3 went out of their way to repeatedly have different people describe Peter Parker as “a good person.” And yet the storyline makes clear that the seeds of vanity and pride and all those other poisonous passions were in Spidey’s soul before he ever put on the Venom suit, that the symbiote merely amplified what was already there.
At the end, Spiderman 3 said what
the world semi-Pelagians my flesh wanted to hear: that although we are tempted to do selfish things, that we, at heart, are good people who can always make the right choice. The truth is harder to bear: that our emotions, minds, and wills have been pervasively and permanently distorted by the Fall, and that only by God’s work within us to be “continually attentive to the inner cesspool,” to be continually putting to death the sin that we will daily find if we are willing to look, and to be continually looking to Christ for wisdom, strength, forgiveness, and grace can we live lives worthy of our Saviour’s calling.