At the dawn of the world, when God first fashioned a mass of clay into the first human being, breathing into him life itself, humanity was wired to want to walk with God.
Created in the divine image of God, we were intended to enjoy fellowship with the Sovereign Creator of all the Cosmos, enabled to appreciate in holy awe His majesty and also given the capacity to know Him in a real relationship.
But with that first rebellion in the Garden of Eden, the image of God, in the face of humanity, was distorted nearly to the point of becoming unrecognizable. Yes, we’ve been created in the image of God, but our resemblance to Him has been horribly disfigured by the ravages of sin and selfishness. No longer are we capable, in of ourselves, to walk with Him or even desire Him unless He Himself paves the way for that yearning in our hearts to take seed and sprout. It is only too clear today that Christians generally feel either too powerless and defeated in their Christian walks to have an authentic relationship with Christ or they have become too contented with a superficial and shallow spirituality.
We tend to be culturally and biologically “driven” people by the taskmasters of compulsion, ambition and apprehension. We do not see that there is both an urgent and dire need to quickly abandon these merciless slave drivers lest we reap their harvests of self-destruction. Nor do we easily accept that there is a divine means by which we may achieve spiritual freedom and an eternal victory so that we may be restored to our basic reason for living — that of walking with God.
The “force” that drives us backward and downward instead of onward and upward is the force of “self.” The triple-pronged assault of self-gratification, self-importance and self-preservation tends to body-block our pursuit “of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (from Philippians 3:14 ESV).
Time and time again, the “force of self” is permitted to interfere with the high and holy work of God in our lives. Time and time again, we ourselves conspire with the slave-driver of “self” to thwart what our heavenly Father would do in, for, and through us if only we would stop resisting Him.
What are we to do then with this “force” that has no “Jedi” benefit but is 100 percent “dark side?” Ultimately, we must seek the perspective that God Himself has on the matter. God’s Word, the Bible, signals the end of the reign of the fascist “self.” Do not believe the lie that you “cannot” have victory in your life or that you are doomed to a mediocre and marginal role in the kingdom of heaven. Inasmuch as we may believe these lies, we become trapped with shackles of “self-fulfilling prophecies,” but please know that the child of God has been given an infinite provision of life and godliness to overcome the spiritual bondage of “selfishness” within our lives.
When all is said and done, it has been declared from the very throne of God that “self” is dead for “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). Even as Jesus’ precious hands were pierced by iron spikes and He was lifted up for our sin, with Him was also crucified what we would have been were it not for His grace. Upon the Roman executioner’s cross was pinned humanity’s sin (the willful turning from God) as well as the “self” of those who are “found in Him, not having a righteousness of their own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (from Philippians 3:9).
Our greatest battles in life are not so much on the outside as they are on the inside of us. We engage the enemy whenever we are called by Christ to move in one direction, and yet for fear, greed, lust, or pride are goaded to move in another direction. On the one hand, we have the natural inclinations of our flesh and the limited reasonings of our own sensibilities and intellect. On the other hand, we have access, through faith in Jesus Christ, to the power, love, and life of God Himself through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The ultimate and wondrous admonition that God is extending to you and to me today is to not settle for mediocre spirituality nor to relax into an easy faith wherein we believe that God, in having “done all the work” for salvation (in Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection), requires nothing further from us. Oh, no. Even now He waits for His people to turn to Him wholeheartedly, place their hands in His, and walk with Him through this journey of life.
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected]