When you think of living God’s way and your personal track record, what emotions rise to the surface? Regret, disappointment, frustration?
What words or phrases come to mind? Failure, all have sinned, nobody’s perfect, sinful nature?
With that in mind, watch this clip from “Facing the Giants.”
Pure inspiration. As good as a Rocky movie.
I remember learning about self-fulfilling prophecy in high school. According to our good friends at Wikipedia, it is “a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true … due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.”
One of the core teachings of the church is our depravity due to our sinful nature. The inherent, unspoken message is “You are screwed up, and there is nothing you can do about it.”
I am not saying this is not true. I am not implying salvation lies within each of us, if only we can unlock the magic key inside or get on the path of self-discovery.
But what happens when the dominant, constant message I hear about myself is I’m a mess? And my own experience confirms this? I can become a hot mess! Hopefully, it drives me to the Risen Christ in total dependence on Him to remake me into a new creation.
But in the meantime, in-between-time, as I continue to fall short, what do I do? Wallow in misery or grow hard-hearted and cold over time?
Let’s allow Moses to throw his two cents in here. Moses, the great prophet and leader of Israel during the Exodus, the self-proclaimed “most humble guy ever,” is preaching his last sermon to God’s people. Moses is near the end of his life, the people are on the cusp of entering the long-awaited Promised Land, and God has established through giving His Law the way of life He intends for His people.
Here is what Moses says in Deuteronomy 30:10-14 regarding God’s intended ways of living:
The Lord your God will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.
Why would Moses go and say a thing like that? When he says God’s ways are within their reach, he doesn’t mean that literally, does he?
This is before Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Before the coming of the Holy Spirit in new creation power, when things became upended and now through faith we are holy temples where God may dwell.
It seems our potential might be more than we realize. That the image of God (that has been cracked by sin, but still remains!) might mean more than we realize. Maybe our capacity for good and our capacity to obey is greater than we realize.
We do not put limitations on ourselves physically or emotionally. When we hear stories of great human accomplishments in the arena of sports, or stories of survival despite the worst of conditions (such as the Holocaust), we do not doubt their truthfulness. We realize and recognize our potential.
But when it comes to living God’s way, we see ourselves as defeated before we have even tried. Persevering and overcoming rarely enter our vocabulary, yet these are the very words we hear throughout the New Testament epistles!
I am not proposing we can be sinless, attain perfection, or earn salvation. But I wonder if our focus on sins and the sinful nature has actually become an enabling device to sin.
I leave you with one final thought from Hebrews 12:4.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
What you believe about yourself is critical. What you believe about God is even more critical.