By Ernest O'Neill

Are We Just a Product of Our Genetic Makeup?

By Rev. Ernest O'Neill

So loved ones, it's important for us this morning not to cover over the death of Jesus with all kinds of complicated explanations or trying to make it attractive in different ways. The death of Jesus is everything. Everybody says, "You're the product of heredity plus environment." All the psychologists say it, all our educators say it: "You're the product of your heredity plus your environment."

Actually you yourself would reinforce that. You would say, "Yes, if I think of my mom at this moment, I can think of certain traits in her that I know I can see inside myself." And many of us would say the same about our dads. We would say, "Yes, as I think of my dad as he was or as he is today, I know there are certain reactions that I have that are just like his."

Indeed, many of us who have lived years of our lives would still say that. We are horrified at the thought but we would admit that many of the reactions we have to certain situations, many of the responses we have come straight from our dad and straight from our mom. Some of our dads were great worriers and we are great worriers. Some of our moms had an ability to make a little biting comment and we have that same ability to make a little biting comment. We find we're responding the same way as they do.

And so we can see we're certainly the product of our heredity. Of course, what we're taught in our educational system is that that's it. You're part of a determinant system; there's no way in which you can be different from your dad or mom. There's no way in which you can radically change yourself. You can make little adjustments here and little fine-tuning movements here, but there's no way in which you can change your heredity. And so, many of us live under the burden of that.

Loved ones, it's possible for you to be freed from that long-chain that ties you to your father and your mother. God has broken that chain. He has taken away the spiritual powers that bind you to your father, binds you to your mother, binds you to your grandparents, and to all the generations back down through history. He has broken those spiritual chains that bind you to your peers and bind you to the opinions of other people. You see, that's why those things have pressure on you.

You wonder, is it just your genes? No, it is not just your genes. Or is it just the habits of society? No, it's not. There are spiritual powers that make you want to please the other person in your class. There are spiritual powers that make you want to please your professor at all costs even if it means denying your convictions. There are spiritual powers that make you want to follow your father's shortcomings or your grandparents' shortcomings, whatever you want to do with your best will. When God put you into his son, he destroyed all those spiritual chains and fetters, all those connections. He set you free from those powers and you are able to be free from them by believing what he says, that's it.

That's why the death of Jesus is everything. The death of Jesus is the key to everything. It's the key to your life. It's the key to you being freed and changed inside and it's free to anybody who will simply believe it and act upon it. So when we take communion this morning, that's what we're talking about. We're saying that this very morning, the Spirit of Jesus and his Father, our God, and Creator, are here in this room. And that if you believe that he has changed you in his son, and has utterly destroyed you in his death and recreated you in his resurrection, and as we kneel and pray, you are willing to leave aside the things that he has shown you are wrong in your life, he will give you the power to walk free from them this morning. That's it.

He will give you the power to walk free from them if you will simply turn from them with your will today and believe that you have been changed in the death of Jesus. I know some of you here this morning think, "Oh Pastor, maybe he has died for somebody important or somebody religious, but he couldn't die for me." Loved ones, if you had been the only person in the world, Jesus would still have died for you.

You are precious to him and his Father. His pain came from his dying for you. His pain on Calvary was contributed by some of the wrong in you and some of the evil in you. You have a personal adjustment to make with Jesus. That's why the Bible says, "Christ died for all, therefore all died." Christ died for all and you're one of the all. And his death and agony of it were because, in him, God took you and changed you completely and broke those chains that bind you to the past and bind you to the present. You can be free this morning. That's the explanation for men like Saul being converted to become Paul. That's it. That's the explanation for so many of us being changed in our lives. It isn't chance. It's a miracle that God wrought in his son Jesus. It's the normal plan God has for all of us.

So I would encourage you this morning. If you have for years been the product of your heredity plus your environment and you want desperately to get free from that and to change and to start again, then simply believe that when Jesus died, you died. God destroyed you in Jesus and when Jesus rose from the dead, God raised you up and made you new. Faith is living in the light of that. Faith is believing that and just living in light of it. And today at communion, for most of us, it is being honest about our sins, about the things in our lives that we have tried to change for years and have never managed to. For us, it's confessing those to God this morning, turning from them in repentance, and receiving Jesus into our hearts and our lives to live his life forever through us from this time forth.