Have a cookie and chill.
The crisis in our souls
We have been wrestling with topics in practical Christianity for a few months now.
And that means that we have been getting into the nitty gritty of some raw, sensitive parts of life
Like violence. Sex. The fool. Fatherlessness. Marriage. Parenting. Divorce.
And when we do that it is really easy to get pre-occupied with ourselves and how well we are performing.
It’s natural. Inevitable almost.
If the subject is parenting, and you or I are parents, well then, we are going to see what the Bible says, and compare that to how we’ve done things, and…
Well, and it’s a given that we have been falling short of the Biblical ideal, God’s perfect standard.
And so then it’s almost certain that we will have some level of crisis in our souls.
And that leads quickly to some combination of guilt, blaming others, resolving to do better, wondering what the Greek says for that Bible verse, and so forth!
Now I wrestle with this stuff - of how to deal with the gap between God’s vision and my performance - just like you do.
I fail more than I succeed, it seems, and I put myself in these soul corners where I simply don’t know what to do with myself anymore.
Cheer up! You’re worse than you think!
I read a great statement last week and here it is:
“Cheer up! You’re worse than you think!”
There is something cheerful, hopeful, freeing even, about coming to the realization that apart from Christ there is no hope for you.
We struggle struggle struggle and we think that it’s a struggle to get better -
But really the whole struggle – as God sees it! - is to get us to let go of the fantasy of ever getting better! In our flesh. The part that we struggle with.
To accept the fact that we’re wicked in our flesh. Evil. Rebels against God. Hopeless. Our old man.
The Bible says things like “dead – DEAD! – in our trespasses and sins.” (Eph 2:5)
God in His word tells us that “nothing – NOTHING – good dwells in us, that is our flesh.” (Rom 7:18)
All the failure, negativity, rotten thoughts, anger, lust, fear, guilt, shame, wanting to rebel against God and His ways and His standards, selfishness, - tell me when you’ve heard enough! –
Because I mean we get lists. We get lists of the deeds of the flesh, of the awfulness of mankind left to ourselves, we get lists you know.
They are not pretty, these lists in the Bible, and they describe, not just the guy in jail, not just the guy in the news, not just the poor wicked unbeliever, but they describe US – you, me – as we are naturally, as we were born, as we still are in our flesh – you, me.
And then those remarkable, joyful, hip hip hooray, CHEER UP words –
No longer am I the one doing it…
But sin that dwells inside me! (Rom 7:17, 7:20)
Look what God did!
Besides, we are not sinners because of our disobedience. We were made sinners because of Adam’s disobedience. (Rom 5:19). God knows that.
So God turns around and makes us righteous on account of the obedience of another: Christ!
God demonstrates His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). God declared you and I to be righteous forever in His eyes when we were ungodly people who believed in His Son. (Rom 4:5)
And God also did something about that wretched man that you and I are in the flesh.
What did He do?
He crucified our old man. And He condemned sin itself in the flesh. That’s Rom 6:6 and Rom 8:3.
Quite simply …He put an end to him, and gave us Christ instead.
And that’s a major big deal.
And we can say to our critics –human and demonic – have your fun now, because every day I am being renewed, there is a new me being built up, and one day I’m gonna be just like Jesus!
You know I’m always saying how this verse or that verse is my favorite but I gotta tell you the one that comes up again and again and again - for me anyway – is Gal 2:20:
Cheer up – you’re worse than you thought!
You are God’s building
Imagine a man who works for an outfit that takes abandoned property and renovates it. He’s a foreman and he works with buildings.
Only the building he has been assigned to fix up this time is in horrific shape. All the windows are missing or cracked.
There are termites everywhere. Pipes leaking. Pipes missing (presumed stolen). Mold in the walls. Rats in the walls.
Every time his crew goes to fix something, they discover something even worse.
Finally, the city inspector pays a visit to the site. And by the time he is done, he has come to one conclusion: this property will be condemned.
And as he declares this, he hears this giant – and I mean GIGANTIC – sigh of RELIEF. He turns and sees it is the foreman on this job!!!
So we don’t have to do anything else to try to rehab this building? Nope. Stop work.
Cheer up – it’s worse than you think!
Well, this old building has been condemned. So it gets torn down.
Then an entirely NEW building goes up in its place.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Never enough anyway
OK, so you found out you were a lousy parent.
OK, so maybe you got the hint that you really are a rebellious wife a lot of the time.
OK, so you got divorced and remarried and now you know that God’s heartbeat is for marriages to last.
OK, so God in His word finally got through to you that He doesn’t want you viewing pornography and you feel bad about all the pornography and strip clubs and “naked and afraid” episodes you’ve watched for the past 5 years!
Here’s the deal:
Cheer up – you’re worse than you think! And God chose you, and redeemed you, and adopted you as His very own child ANYWAY!!
Besides, all your regrets, all your guilt, all your resolving not to do it again, all your confessions, all your restitution, all your “I’m sorry”s, all your anxieties, all your atoning rituals and sacrifices and things you say you will do to compensate for what you did wrong….
ALL OF THESE done 1,000 times every day for the rest of your life…
Are NOT ENOUGH!!!!!
Besides, you do all that – and the wicked old you….REMAINS.
In your flesh!!
In the members of your body!!!
In your brain even!
What can you possibly do about him?????????
Only the blood of Christ is enough.
But praise God it IS enough!!
Only the death of Christ is enough.
Look at who God chose!
He chose the worst, the most wicked, the most wretched, the most deplorable -
To become the best, the very righteousness of God…
So that none could ever suppose that there was anything good about anybody that was the cause for the astounding blessings that come from God.
30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."
God’s not upset about the foolish things about us. So why should we be?
Jesus is not ashamed of our weakness. So why should we be?
God chose us even though we had these base, wretched, ugly, wicked rebellious parts.
Ever since His Son came to earth for our sakes and died, and rose again, and came back up to heaven to live with Him forever,
Now God the Father just keeps looking at His precious perfect Son Jesus.
He looks and looks and looks
And, despite our wickedness, He just rests there now and says,
“All that weak, base, foolish flesh that my children still carry around – it’s not an obstacle any more...
Because I dealt with it! I condemned sin in the flesh.
And my children have been sanctified forever by the one sacrifice that My Son offered on that cross.
Because I mean- just look at Jesus !!!”
One day we’ll be like Jesus
So you’re a lousy parent.
Do what God does -
Take a look at Jesus!
Grab a hold of the righteousness that Christ is for us.
One day we’re going to be just like He is in His humanity!
Major in majors!!!
Christ is our life!
I think most if not all of us – myself included – simply need to spend more of our days basking in what God has already done for us by giving us Christ.
Christ is our life!
Soak up that life.
Eat His body and drink His blood. Feed off His resurrection life and drink up complete forgiveness and perfect righteousness.
You are perfectly righteous in God’s eyes.
As much as we struggle with the stuff of our lives after salvation, trying to live up to the standards God has established for our lives, our marriages, our families, our calling….
It’s all relatively minor….compared to the cross and resurrection and ascension and session of Jesus Christ!
Relative to grace, and eternal life, and perfect righteousness and sonship.
God has you covered
So much so that God seems to have amnesia about it - our sanctification – when He describes the great sweep of His plan of salvation for us –
There you have it. In the wide sweep of God intervening in our lives, did you see it there? All that struggling you put yourself through? No you didn’t - because it’s not there in verses 29-30.
Remarkable! The stuff we struggle over - that in its totality represents our practical sanctification?
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
"FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.