Did I get your attention last week with my statements about Christians and truth? See post here if you missed it. It has the sermon link too.
- Truth = change and change = increased responsibility.
I am thinking of the story of Jesus and the man at the pool of Bethesda. A crippled man has been an invalid for 38 years. He has come to the pool for healing and he has been lying by the pool for “a long time”. Jesus introduces himself to this invalid with a strange question. He asks him, “Do you want to get well?” On the face of it, this is a dumb question.
Maybe this is the most important question this man needs to face. Maybe he has become accustomed to being a beggar. Maybe he has been sick so long it has become a part of his identity. Maybe being healed means serious change like getting a job, finding another place to live, leaving his social circle of sick friends and much more. What Jesus is asking is, “Do you really understand what you are asking for? Have you thought about what this healing will mean to your future? What do you fear if you are healed?”
- Facing our sin is psychologically painful.
Facing sin = facing failure. Facing failure = shame. Shame = low self worth. Low self worth = threat to the “self”. The “self’ protects itself against anything and everything that threatens its pre-eminence. This is our human nature. Facing our sin is always a threat to our “self”. As I have previously said, sin is just the choice of “self” to be preeminent above all other selves, starting with God and ending with all other selves.
Without a true understanding of the role “self” plays in the Christian life we begin all of our understanding of sin under false assumptions. The self will do anything to avoid facing sin. This is our state before we come to God. We are so lost in ourselves that God describes us as “enemies” and “objects of His wrath”. Our self rationalizes this description of our natural state as some sort of gross exaggeration. The unregenerate mind will not entertain the idea that it could possibly be opposed to God just by virtue of its self focus. “Me first” makes perfect sense to us. The Christian message of original sin, and our utter hopelessness to morally improve our selves, is foolishness to the natural mind because the natural mind is governed by the “self”.
We have a serious problem; the “self” survives conversion. This is a deeper way of explaining that sin in us survives conversion as well. Just because we can now see sin for what it is does not mean that the battle is over. The self continues to fight for pre-eminence. The Apostle Paul describes this battle very accurately.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out….So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. Rom. 7:15-21