None of us can listen to the news these days without feeling a pang of sadness, anger and helplessness. We are getting numb to the death toll due to school shootings, high rise fires, volcano eruptions, wars and suicide bombers. We see our fellow men saying and doing things that leave us bewildered. We wonder, "How could he or she do such a thing?" Society seems to be going "off the rails" and we don't want to go off with it.
And while we ourselves haven't murdered anyone or blown up a train station, we have said and done plenty that has hurt our wives or a colleague at work. We have besetting sins that we can't seem to stop although we keep trying. If we're honest, all of us feel that we're not what we were meant to be or want to be. We say and do things that leave us wondering, "Why did I do that?" We want to do the right thing by others but so often we do the very opposite.Something seems desperately wrong with mankind but nobody seems to know how to change the situation.
There was a man called Paul who wrote many of the letters in the New Testament. He faced the same thoughts and feelings as we do with maybe even more frustration because he believed in God and really wanted to live a life that pleased God.
Here is what he wrote: "I have discovered this principle of life -- that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh what a miserable person I am! WHO will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" Romans 7:21-24
Paul found that his answer was in a person, not a program of reform. He goes on to say, "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 7:25a
God's desire and plan is that each of his children would be reconciled to Him and at peace with Him. Since man was first created, he has chosen to live by his own knowledge of good and evil, rather than God's infinite wisdom. This has resulted in every one of us inheriting a carnal nature from our parents and all of us doing what is right in our own eyes.
But God wants to restore us to the way he originally made us: His own Spirit indwelling our spirit so that we can live in partnership with Him, fulfilling the purpose we were made for.
Living independent of God is the way all of us have chosen to live -- even those who claim to believe in Him. The prophet Isaiah gives us this vivid picture of man: "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way...." Isaiah 53:6a
The carnal nature that we inherit from our parents is what keeps us separated from God. Sin is knowing what is right to do but then not doing it. (James 4:17). We sin because it's just our nature to do so. We can't do anything else -- proved by the fact that children naturally know how to be naughty but must be taught and disciplined to be good.
The only way we can be restored to God's original purpose for us is because God opened the way for that to happen. He came down to earth in the form of a man -- his only begotten Son Jesus -- while still retaining his nature as God. Jesus came to reestablish the Kingdom of God --- or God's rule over our hearts.
By his life, Jesus showed us what God is like. He spoke with the authority of God and backed up the words he spoke by his actions and miracles.
By his death, forgiveness of our sins is possible because Jesus took into himself every sin that we have committed in thought, word or deed --- for all that we have done to other men is really sin against God (Psalm 51:4).
Since God is good AND just (Psalm 25:8), He must punish sin wherever it is found (Romans 2:9). Instead of wiping out all of us for our sins against Him, He allowed his Son Jesus to endure the punishment and death that we deserve (Isaiah 53:5).
Through Jesus on the cross, God also performed a cosmic miracle. He put our inherited sin nature into Jesus to be destroyed (Romans 6:6) so that we could receive a new nature. He has done this once and for all of us in every century. (1 Peter 3:18)
Christ's own Spirit is the new nature available to all who repent of their sins and commit their life to following Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Since our old nature has been crucified in Christ, our sins forgiven and our conscience cleansed by his blood, we have a spirit (the deepest part of us) fit to house Christ's Spirit.
It's up to us to change our thinking (repent) concerning living life without God and then ask Jesus for His Spirit as a completely new "operating system". And when we receive Christ's Spirit into our life we have the power to stop sinning and Jesus can continue to live HIS life through our own.
With Christ's Spirit indwelling us, we have PEACE with God and his abiding PRESENCE becomes ours again --- just the way God made man to begin with. This allows us to get on with the PURPOSE for our life and to fulfill our POTENTIAL.
We were made to live forever with God --- and so, with Christ's eternal Spirit indwelling us, eternal life becomes ours. The body will die, but our spirit returns to God who gave it to us (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
But --- real life is also ours right now. Our sins are forgiven, we have peace with God, Christ's Spirit indwells us and we are once again in partnership with God to do the works that He created us for (Ephesians 2:10). We are back on track to fulfill our place in the Kingdom of God.
While we cannot do God's work in dealing with the wrongs of all mankind, we can do our part. We can believe Christ's work on the cross was for our redemption and by receiving his Spirit, we are back on track to live the life that God originally made us for. Jesus then continues to live his life through our own. We become like a stone thrown into a pond. The ripple of our words and actions goes out further and further to affect the place where we live. This is how Jesus changes a society. It's by one life at a time, walking in obedience and partnership with himself.
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