When it comes to living life we all start out wrong. We all start out with the idea that if we try hard enough we can make ourselves better. After all isn’t that what we hear all day long? Self help books, life coaches, weight loss plans, seminars and on and on. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with eating healthy or living a life of less stress and so on; my question is do we really have the power to do this?
God demands perfection from his creation. Satan deceived us into thinking we could be “Like God.” Since the fall of man we have lived under this delusion so we come up with snappy slogans like “WWJD” What would Jesus do? Then there is the never ending mantra to pray more, read the Bible more, attend church services more and etc. The implication is that if we do all of these things we will somehow become what God wants us to be.
If you read what the Bible is really saying it may shock you. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John you will discover “as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Wow! The only requirement of us is to receive Christ. We cannot become children of God by way of natural heritage, trying in the flesh or willing it, but only by being born of God.
Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus takes on a whole new light now doesn’t it? Nicodemus came to Jesus, teacher to teacher, thinking Jesus would give him some sort of study course or method in which he could get God to be with him as he was with Jesus. Jesus’ response to him confused him. Jesus told him he must be born again. It has never been God’s intention that we try harder or learn more in order to be “like him.” It is only when we come to the realization that it is all God’s doing that we are willing to let Jesus Christ be the one and only.
The Apostle Paul walked us through what giving law-keeping a good try looks like in Romans seven. Paul was quite the specimen when it comes to having all the credentials one would think were necessary to live life for God. He was a full blooded Hebrew, circumcised on the eighth day, zealous for the Law and even a persecutor of the church because he thought all those Jesus followers were heretics. So when we look at Romans seven we see a man struggling to do what he had always thought God required him to do.
The problem occurs because we misunderstood why God gave us his law. When God gave mankind his law he never intended us to keep it. He never thought for moment we could. He gave it to us in order to expose sin in us and show us our need of a savior, namely Jesus Christ. Paul shows us the frustration and anguish trying to keep the law will produce. He finally comes to the only conclusion any of us will if we are honest in our findings. “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me?” Paul finally came to a place where his education, upbringing and zeal couldn’t carry him. He finally cried out, like all of us must, in order to find true relief.
The idea that God created humans powerless doesn’t come to us easily. We only become aware of this after repeated attempts of trying and failing. This is why I think those with strong addictions or sinful habits tend to be the ones that finally do really get set free from the deception. The load has to become too big to carry or we would never accept Jesus’ offer of rest. Jesus invites us all “come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” He wants to carry our load. He wants to take up residence in our lives and live his life through us. He is the only one that ever kept the law and he will keep it in us if we simply let him.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of his glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25 NASB)
Written by Louie