What The Bible Says About Sustainability

Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

Isaiah 59:16 “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.”

Hello readers, I want to talk about sustainability today. If there is a big buzz word of our times, it is “sustainability”. I’m sure anyone reading this has heard about “sustainability” almost nonstop in the last ten or twenty years. Our whole “new world” is being framed by “sustainability” so it’s a good time to investigate “sustainability” from a Biblical perspective, the best perspective. Because the Bible weighs in on sustainability! The word “sustain” is in the Bible 7 times. Because perfect sustainability is found in the Bible.

And I’ve found it very helpful personally to look at what the Bible has to say about sustainability. Hopefully I can articulate it with simplicity and godly sincerity and this blog is a blessing to you! Sorry if it’s a bit of a longer read, but I trust it will be worth it, appreciate those that do read.

When I looked at the word “sustain” in the Bible, it really struck me, and not for the first time, how people really do understand many concepts taught in the Bible without realizing it. People aren’t as far away from truth as you would think, and Biblical faith is not beyond any one of us.

What do I mean by that? Well, just like people see the problem of climate change threatening mankind and man needing to do something to save himself from it, so the Bible sees the problem of sin threatening mankind and man needing to be saved from it. Notice some key differences there? The Bible identifies a different threat to humanity, and also identifies a different method of salvation from that threat.

With man’s concept of sustainability you have salvation from “climate catastrophe”, whereas in the Bible, God’s concept of sustainability for man in salvation from “sin”. So sustainability is really a tale of two salvations. Only one is true salvation though. But so when I say concepts in the Bible aren’t beyond any of us, it’s because we all understand the need for salvation from impending doom to be sustainable. Like our society has identified a threat to the sustainability of humanity in climate change, so has God identified the threat to the sustainability of humanity in sin. But I think God sees things more clearly. He doesn’t see through the glasses of corporate greed, corruption, lust and envy.

As you read, I would hope that you at least do some thinking about sustainability in terms of climate change versus sin. Which has done more damage? Which is affecting our sustainability more? Because what the Bible says and what the climate change “gurus” say are two very different things. See, the climate change prophets don’t compare to the Prophet, Jesus Christ. And just so you don’t immediately wash what I’m writing, of course, of course we should look after where we live, that’s hardly a novel principle, and if you read the Bible, there was no cleaner and more environmentally conscious nation than Israel when they obeyed God.

But on we go.

In all seriousness, have you even actually thought about the term “sustainability”? Often we use words but never really break them down and think about what they really mean, and what we are really saying and meaning by them when we use them. I know we just associate sustainability with being environmentally “enlightened” and environmentally “conscious” and “responsible” and living more in “harmony” with mother earth… but have you actually looked up the word and thought about the concept, philosophy and ideology behind it? You’ve got the term, then the way the term is being used, so it would be good to do so. Stop letting people prey on your ignorance.

I first got really “conscious” and “enlightened” about climate change in secondary school, when I saw a movie, which the whole school did, called “An Inconvenient truth”. Fear was injected into students that day, and a call to action sounded out not just in our school, but through our society. Where there was once a great awakening and enlightenment when the Bible was preached, now with the preaching of climate change people responded in the droves. And so we have this age of enlightenment enamored not with the salvation from souls, but uniting in saving our planet… but have you been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to the saving of your soul? How could Al Gore enlighten you but not Jesus Christ? Only one became poor and died to save you, and hint, the climate change prophets won’t sacrifice a dime or a luxury in the salvation they offer, but Jesus poured out his soul unto death in the salvation he offers. Compare the pair?

It’s reasonable to assume that if you grasp and understand the concept of sustainability in climate change terminology, then it shouldn’t be too hard to grasp the concept of sustainability in Biblical terminology. And if you truly care about sustainability, shouldn’t you also care about salvation, which is literally about sustainability? Don’t you think eternal life is sustainability? Eternal life is kinda a “sustainability” terminology isn’t it?

It’s crazy to me that people care about the sustainability of this planet, having been bombarded by extinction propaganda for years now, programmed by the media, and moved around by fear… but they don’t seem to care about the sustainability of their soul. Climate change propaganda makes them fear, but God’s word doesn’t make them fear. Hmm. And they’re unable to identify the true issues of sustainability that they and we all face. For instance, if you cared about a hot place here, how about the eternal heat of hell? Why don’t you care about there? If you wouldn’t want to be here with an extra .1 of a degree, why would you want to be in hell? Because there’s no hotter destination for man than hell.

Hopefully you didn’t tune out there, because many do tune out when “hell” is mentioned. But just because you’ve decided it doesn’t exist or you aren’t going there based on the goodness that you think you have… it doesn’t change the reality of it. Truth still hasn’t changed, even if you’ve changed your truth. And the only thing separating us from fantasy and reality is time.

Back on track… If you think about the word “sustainable”, how sustainable do you think your life actually is? How sustainable do you want it to be? Isn’t the one thing we know about life is that we all die? So if you die, you personally are not sustainable. The mere fact you age is proof that you are unsustainable. So this sustainability that we are shooting for, how much is it really doing for you? It’s such a great cause, and yet none of us will live to see it?

But before we continue, maybe we should define some terms.

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary the word “sustain” means “to bear; to uphold; to support” and “to support” and “to maintain”.

And the word “ability” means “physical power”.

If you combine the two, and you get the definition for sustainability. When you add “ability” on the end of “sustain” you’re just referring to the ability to do what sustain means. The power to do so, the power to sustain oneself. The power to support, maintain and perpetuate oneself. Think practically about it. For instance, that’s why our governments put x, y and z measures in to sustain ourselves. So to sustain ourselves, we call the nations of the earth to action, believing we have the “ability” through our own actions, to avert harmful global climate change.

Without spoilers for what’s ahead, I think that’s something I really noticed as I thought about the word. Because “ability” is quite a notable word. And if there’s one thing the Bible teaches, cementing in place through thousands of years of human history, is that man has very limited, and in fact… no ability. Man does not have the ability to save himself, that’s why God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. Because nobody else… ever… was able.

But modern sustainability doesn’t revolve around God’s ability, it revolves around man’s ability. Because I would define modern sustainability as “man’s power to save himself”. And they haven’t even identified the real threat! But man trying to save himself is basically what all these climate change measures are (or purport to be). Remember, everyone is out for themselves ultimately, not for the planet. SO your trust in humanity is admirable, but misplaced to say the least. Nevertheless, there is a generally perceived threat to our planet that threatens our survival and future generations, and we try to save ourselves from that threat by what we do. That’s modern sustainability in a nutshell. We measure our “ability” in terms of emissions reductions, and how much we ruin our own country to save the world, sorry for the sarcasm!

But as soon as I really started considering these words, I realized that at the core of sustainability is man saving himself. Whereas the Bible teaches God saving man. So sustainability really provides a magnificent platform from which to share the gospel with other people. And we get to tell them that what makes Christianity different from every other religion of man is that the Bible teaches that nothing you can do can save yourself, whereas every worldly religion attempts to redeem oneself through what they can do aka their own ability. And this climate change religion is just that, a religion. Their deity is their mother, earth. She is the provider and sustainer of mankind, and we must protect her. She’s suffering smokers lungs.

Repeated sarcasm aside, we’ve established that sustainability in our days refers to the power of man to sustain man. Sustaining mankind is achieved through sustaining the planet so it can sustain us. A wonderful symbiosis you might say. All completely Godless of course. In the context of sustaining our planet, it’s because we recognize the importance of earth in our survival, because earth is our home, it’s where we live, so we try to protect it as much as we can so we can persist and perpetuate on it, in other words, not become extinct through our own making. I mean, the actual idea is somewhat noble, because we shouldn’t make our habitat unlivable at all so there is some legitimacy there, but not to what our society makes of it.

You can really see how modern sustainability is thinly vieled humanism at best. There is no concept of God in it. God is not in the picture. It is man trying to galvanise together against a common threat to protect and preserve themselves. And it really feeds the pride of man, thinking he is in control of his destiny, audacious enough to think that he has the power to destroy and save life.

Not just that, but sustainability is about making sure what we’ve got continues. If you’re trying to sustain it, you’re trying to “keep it going”. If you want to keep it going, you obviously like what you’ve got. No doubt, there are many things to appreciate about earth, like the sun, moon, stars, rain, destinations, views, creatures… and there’s many fun things to do and pleasures to experience… and yet on this earth is also a very wicked system and spirit of living, one that centers on greed, lust, envy, deceit, lies, pride, murder and so on.

… Is that really worth sustaining? And here’s the mic drop: because if you read the Bible, God doesn’t think so. Remember God? Him? And so no matter how hard you try and sustain what you’ve got, if God doesn’t sustain it, it will not be sustained. See, often we don’t factor God in. It’s time you started factoring the God of the Bible into your sustainability.

Because when we factor in the God of the Bible, he has identified the threat to the sustainability of man… and that’s not climate change… that is sin. That is the problem. That is the threat. If you do not address your sin problem personally, you will never be sustainable. Not now, and not for eternity.

Factor this into your thinking – sin is not sustainable. And living in sin is not sustainable. See, CO2 emissions aren’t what’s stopping you from being sustainable… your sin is. The introduction of sin into this world was the first sin against sustainability, because sin brought death, and the death of anything is the anti thesis of sustainability.

So firstly, we have to establish that the life we have here is not sustainable. Not because of climate change, but because of sin.  But people want it to be sustainable. They want to keep things going and perpetuate themselves without God… but that’s unsustainable.

I thought about in the gospels, when Jesus Christ referenced the days of Noah for the days of his coming, Jesus didn’t cite the depravity of man, he instead he cited the building, the planting, the marrying… and these things aren’t sin in and of themselves. See those things are all part of life, and people like the way things are and would love to just keep it going. The problem was, while the people of Noah’s day were busily sustaining themselves, they hadn’t factored God into their lives, lives that were not sustainable, because they were in sin and under the judgment of God.

Has anything changed? Aren’t we doing the same things now? Busy with our little lives, but what have we learnt since Genesis 6? Man really hasn’t learnt, because we busy ourselves protecting the resources of this earth trying to preserve what we’ve got so we can continue forever, while not realizing that we are not sustainable no matter how sustainable our greenhouse gas emissions are.

As I thought about sustainability in the light of scripture, I realized that God teaches two key things about sustainability. Firstly, it is that sustainability is found in God alone. If God is the source of sustainability, how high can the sustainability of man go without God? Boom. Not far at all. As a Christian, I look to God for sustenance, and to sustain me. He’s blessed me with the corn and wine of forgiveness, eternal life, joy, peace, hope of glory. If he doesn’t sustain me, I am not sustainable. But his grace is sufficient for me. But I do recognize that I have no sustainability in and of myself, not to live, not in death, nor to resurrect. Our lack of sustainability is the reason why we get saved, because a life of sin is unsustainable, because unrighteousness will not sustain itself. Every salvation story starts with “I can’t keep going this way” rather than trying to sustain that sinful life because we love it so much.

Secondly I also noticed the importance of righteousness in sustainability. Unrighteousness is not sustainable. Nobody evil has ever sustained themselves. They all perish. They may prosper for a brief period of time, but none of them are sustainable. Only perfect righteousness is sustainable. But I don’t have that! So only perfect righteousness is sustainable, but I don’t have perfect righteousness to sustain myself. That means I’m unsustainable! Yeah, that’s where we are all meant to get. Pretty much what God does in repentance is bring us to an end of ourselves, to quit all our self sustaining efforts to then trust in Jesus Christ. Because enter Jesus Christ. He is who sustains us. I am sustainable “in Christ”.

Because Christ lives forever, so will I. If he didn’t live forever, I would not. My sustainability is tied to him and his righteousness. Amazingly, no person ever other than Christ has ever been or ever will be sustainable. Look at that verse from Isaiah quoted at the start, when God saw “that there was no man”. So it doesn’t matter whether you drive an electric car and think you’ve sustained yourself… you’re unsustainable. We’re all in the same boat.

Often people that think they’re sustainable are a bit self righteous about it. It’s like a badge of honour to be sustainable these days, and extraordinary virtue. But only one person lived a truly sustainable life. And that is Jesus Christ. He was so sustainable that he lived even after he died. Not only does he sustain himself, he also has the power to sustain all who come to him by faith. Such sustainability! Sustainability to bestow upon the whole world. His one sacrifice of himself is more sustainable than all the global efforts of the world for all time. His sustainability is immortal and infinite, he never will cease, he will perpetuate forever… he continues forever.

It is really important to grasp the fact that all unrighteousness is unsustainable.  So if you’re living in sin, it doesn’t matter how hippie you are, it doesn’t matter how many trees you plant… you are unsustainable. And guess what, this planet is unsustainable. Not because of climate change, but because of the curse of sin. In this state under the curse, everything is being sustained only by God up till a certain point. Don’t flatter ourselves, people power aren’t keeping this thing going… God is. Only reason it’s still going. Proof? 2 Peter 3:7 “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” God’s righteousness is the only thing sustaining everything, even right now! Uh yeah, that kind of shoots down your sustainability complex.

So really, the Bible teaches that true sustainability comes from God and is found in God in his Son Christ Jesus. If you want to do something for sustainability, you need Jesus Christ. If you’re trusting in people power but not in Jesus Christ’s power, what can man really get done? If the planet really is going to burn, what is man going to do to stop it? Like, really? A bit like your salvation. Can you really save you? And if you relate sustainability to salvation, you’ll see how if you’re so concerned about harming the planet to your destruction, why don’t you care about the harm you’re doing your own soul to your own destruction?

See, nobody is more for sustainability than God. He gave Jesus Christ to sustain you, forever. So if sustainability is a cause so dear to you, it doesn’t get more sustainable than Christ. He is able. God’s sustainability is all about God’s ability, man’s sustainability is about man’s ability. I know which one I’d rather. Because when we talk about sustain”ability”, we have no ability, salvation is realizing our inability, not our ability. And we recognize Christ’s ability, if you want to talk about power to forgive, power to redeem, power to save… only Christ has that ability.

We’d love to all get back to a “garden of Eden” state. Isn’t that what sustainability shoots for? Utopia? How about trust the God who created the garden of Eden? He actually made it happen. Man ruined it! Remember, God created it sustainable, man made it unsustainable. So unsustainable man is going to bring about sustainability? Like really?

Let’s just reiterate this point about sin. You know what is really damaging the sustainability of humans on the planet? Really think about it. Because it’s SIN. Not fuel guzzling cars.

Yes sure, we should look after where we live, and that’s a Biblical principle. Even in the Old Testament law there was conservation and sustainability in mind, hey, God wanted them to perpetuate forever in their land in blessing. It was the sin of the Israelites that made them unsustainable. I thought about these verses as I was writing, just look at this law in Deuteronomy… wow.

Deuteronomy 22:6 “If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: “

Deuteronomy 22:7 “But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.”

You know what this law is establishing? Sustainability. Both for animals and humans. You see that phrase “prolong thy days”? That sounds like… sustainability?

So it’s good you recognize the issue of sustainability, but how about direct your efforts in the right way to the right place so you can truly become sustainable? No matter how electric you are, that won’t make you 100% sustainable. Not even 1%. If you want true God certified sustainability, get saved! The government of today might certify you, but Jesus Christ has the government of the forever kingdom on his shoulder, his sustainability certification is ultimately only what matters.

So let’s actually correctly identify the real issues that affect our sustainability. It’s sin, not CO2. If I was to define from the Bible the very definition of unsustainability, it’s not someone driving a fossil fuel powered car or burning a wood fire in winter… an unsustainable person is someone who is not saved. Because not a single unsaved person is sustainable. Wickedness, iniquity and unrighteousness is not sustainable.

What will sustain you is righteousness. Not your self righteousness, God’s righteousness, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ for your salvation, for your sustainability.

When you look at your country and I mine… my country is not sustainable because my country is filled with wickedness. That is not sustainable. God’s coming wrath and judgment cannot be averted by shutting down a coal fired power station and installing more solar panels. Wickedness is not sustainable either personally or corporately. You can hit every climate change brief and it’s not going to make us one iota more sustainable past what God allows.

But to sum all this up, I hope I haven’t gone too long, but if you got here, I believe this is the essence of the issue. Here it is, this is what I realized…. People don’t want salvation from their sin, they want sustainability in their sin. Which is an oxymoron in light of scripture. Because we’ve established that sustainability and sin are diametrically opposed terms. Nevertheless, the sinner wants their sin, and wants to keep going in it and to prosper in it. That’s what the people in Noah’s day wanted, to sustain what they had, not realizing what they had was not sustainable “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

And guess what, you can have your sin, but it won’t sustain you. I won’t in any sense of the word. On your death bed, all those lusts and pleasures won’t sustain you. Your money won’t sustain you. Your experiences won’t sustain you. They don’t sustain you now, how much less in time? If you don’t have God’s blessing on your life, the blessing bestowed to us through his Son Jesus Christ, you are not sustainable.

No human can sustain what God does not sustain. We are unsustainable creatures lost in our sin. We have an expiry date on this planet and this world. By all means enjoy God’s creation and what he’s given you, and of course you should care for what you’re a steward over… but let’s get our thinking right. Because there is an end point. Consider God when you truly want to make sustainability more than just a self righteous tell everyone else how good you are type gimmick, as if it can subsidize for the lack of true Christ’s righteousness in your life. And thank God he doesn’t require us to “self help” ourselves to sustainability. Because if it’s up to us, we’d never make it. God has made us sustainable one way, and one way only, in his Son Jesus Christ.

So believe on him, be saved, and get sustainable!

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Joseph View All →

Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)

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