Posted by: T. Boyd | November 28, 2011

Deeply Deluded

The sentence in Richard Lovelace’s book, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, that contains the words, “deeply deluded,” caught my attention. (You can click on the link to read the excerpt).  The reading is not easy, but that passage says to me that I don’t want to admit that I cannot win the battle that rages between my old self – the part of me that is angry and hateful at times – and the new life that I have been given in Jesus.

I am deeply deluded into thinking that I can overcome those things if I just keep trying hard enough.  And I think if I can just understand the causes of this bad nature that are hidden away in my subconscious, then maybe I can then master myself and prevent that type behavior.  I have exerted much energy in this futile exercise over a major part of my lifetime.

And Lovelace puts his finger on the very reason I hang on to this misconception: “…we do not want to face the despair of having to live in conscious helpless awareness of [sin’s] tyranny, [afraid of] abusing the grace and forgiveness of Christ.”  In reality it hurts my pride to think I have to keep getting help from Jesus.   Gratefully I have experienced his grace in forgiveness for past sins in order to be reconciled to God.   To me it seems unfair to have to lean on him to also get rid of the bad behavior to which my new conscience has been made sensitive.

I want to say that I have been traveling this fruitless path for at least 50 years, always making an excuse for some bad behavior (for example, yelling at my wife unjustly), then repenting and resolving never to commit that offense again.  And I can report that this striving to conquer my bad nature on my own does not work.  I accomplish very little toward changing my old nature;  I can only temporarily tame it.

There is only one way out of this “maze of twisty little passages all alike” 1.”  And that way is found at the same place that our salvation was found: at the cross where Jesus died for us.  Only Jesus has the power to destroy the tyranny of sin over our lives.  As Lovelace says, who is quoting Paul,  “…we have died with Christ, and have been raised up together with him in newness of life.   Therefore we are not to set the estimates of our power to conquer sin according to past experiences of our will power, but are to fix our attention on Christ and the power of his risen life in which we participate: for we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God.”

At least one more thing needs to be said about this sanctification process:  it is an on-going, daily decision that I must make.  Will I this day allow the power that is in the life of Jesus Christ do its work in me?  Or will I be foolish to think I can walk alone without faltering today?  Again, from experience, I can bear witness that every time I decide not to trust Jesus for my source of strength, that I soon find that I have “wandered into desert wastes, hungry and thirsty, my soul has fainted within me” (Psalm 107, paraphrase).  My joy is gone; I retreat into my “shell” and wallow in self-pity, wondering what went wrong.

“Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25 ESV). As soon as I “cry to the Lord in my trouble, he delivers me from my distress”(Ps. 107). One more chance to learn not to go it alone.


Responses

  1. I have recently found a book that goes even deeper into these ideas of how the strongholds in our lives can be broken down: “Inside Out” by Larry Crabb – I wrote about his book in “Life is Unspeakably Sad” on this site.


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