Tuesday, February 7, 2017
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
As a rule old people know more than young people about how much evil can reside in the human heart. It takes some living and sinning-big to find that out! The darkness of evil hides truth from being discovered as much as possible…and that includes hiding from our own minds that evil which is belongs to us.
Hence, the very useful saying: to thine own self be true!
Paul the Apostle understood this; he faced a daily battle with evil in his life:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: Romans 3:10(NLT)
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23(NLT)
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 3:15(NLT)
Yes, Paul understood personal evil and the pain of being separated from God because of his choices.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Romans 7:24(NLT)
I know you join me in Paul’s frustration. After all, who is the person who has not lived through the agony of failed New Year’s resolutions, promises broken to loved ones, and the pitiful guilt you feel over not being more disciplined in a diet.
If you take it to the natural conclusion you can also say with Paul:
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. Romans 7:18(NLT)
That doesn’t leave much room for hope; almost makes you want to drink the red Kool aide. But Paul doesn’t leave us there. See what he wrote to the believers at Corinth:
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7(NLT)
A fragile clay pot is what held the oil and wick which, when lit, became a shining light. Paul’s imagery here is that we are like an empty fragile jar when there’s no oil, wick, or fire. But, if you take Biblical symbolism seriously you know that oil represents God’s Holy Spirit, as does fire…and then the whole picture makes sense. God’s Spirit comes when we present ourselves unreservedly, ignites our fragile clay pot lives and light fills our hearts, chasing the darkness.
It’s all a very picturesque way of saying: we need God; we can’t do it alone!
If you recognized all the darkness imagery, but have a little trouble identifying with the light coming on….well, that’s God speaking to you with a little light He is offering to make a great light shine where you used to see only darkness!