OUR REAL PROBLEM

Christ-following, Discipleship, Worship

“All the problems of heaven and earth, though they were to confront us together and at once, would be nothing compared with the overwhelming problem of God: That He is; what He is like; and what we as moral beings must do about Him. The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot concern him for very long; but even if the multiple burdens of time may be lifted from him, the one mighty single burden of eternity begins to press down upon him with a weight more crushing than all the woes of the world piled one upon another. That mighty burden is his obligation to God. It includes an instant and lifelong duty to love God with every power of mind and soul, to obey Him perfectly, and to worship Him acceptably. And when the man’s laboring conscience tells him that he has done none of these things, but has from childhood been guilty of foul revolt against the Majesty in the heavens, the inner pressure of self-accusation may become too heavy to bear. The gospel can lift this destroying burden from the mind; give beauty for ashes, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. But unless the weight of the burden is felt the gospel can mean nothing to the man; and until he sees a vision of God high and lifted up, there will be no woe and no burden. Low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them.” 
A.W. Tozer  The Knowledge of the Holy

“When any man comes into the Presence of God, he will find, whether he wishes it or not, that all those things which seem to make his so different from the men of other times, or even from his earlier self have fallen off him. He is back where he always was, where every man always is: Eardem sunt omnia semper: Everything is always the same. Do not let us deceive ourselves. No possible complexity which we can give to our picture of the universe can hide us from God. There is no copse, no forest, no jungle thick enough to provide cover. We read in Revelation of Him that sat on the throne, from whom heaven and earth fled away. It may happen to any of us at any moment. In the twinkling of an eye, in a time too small to be measured, and in any place, all that seems to divide us from God can flee away, vanish, leaving us naked before Him like the first man, like the only man, as if nothing but He and I existed. And since that contact cannot be avoided for long and since it means either bliss or horror, the business of life is to learn to like it. That is the first and great commandment.”
C.S. Lewis Dogma and the Universe

I would like to encourage you to reread Genesis 1-3, the story of our beginning and the disaster of the Fall. I believe remembering this is imperative to right perspective in life. What were we created to be? We will never know, at least in this life, while the effects of the Fall are still upon us. This much we do know: we were not meant to have the knowledge of good and evil within ourselves. It was forbidden. I believe we were meant to receive all knowledge of such through God Himself. To have and wield such knowledge independent of Him brought death, separation from Him. We were cut off from our Head.

What now? There is no solution outside of Christ. Dead is dead. The dead cannot fix themselves. Sin brought irreparable death. Only Christ gives life, the forgiveness of and redemption from our sin. His substitutionary death restores us to life, but only to actual life – right relationship with God. The effects of the Fall still exist, but through Christ and His Holy Spirit, we can begin to walk the way of living men, receiving from God as we were meant to. The temptation to walk according to our independent knowledge of good and evil (which means we really know nothing of good and evil since it flows from an evil source) will continue to exist. The whole society of sinful man is steeped in it and knows nothing else. Christ invites us to die to ourselves and all we ‘know’ and to learn to know God and His ways; to learn to hear His voice and follow Him; to learn to live the way we were created to – at the impulse of His perfect knowledge.

Jesus’ first two points in the progression of new life in the kingdom, as preached in the Sermon on the Mount, were, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Mt 5:3-6) I believe this is the essential starting point of restored life. Poverty of spirit is that place of acknowledgement of the fact that I have and know nothing. I am so completely devastated by sin that there is nothing of merit in me. The good news of redemption meets me at this point. But the awareness that I will always be susceptible to the inclinations of sin are what cause mourning. I always need salvation. It is not a one-time event, but a continuous necessity. This is the narrow, harrowing way of the kingdom. But, through Christ, I can walk that way and I do not walk it alone. Truly, He is a Comforter.

Learning to know God and His ways is as much about unlearning as it is about acquisition. Revelation of God’s glories come with revelations of my sinfulness. Repentance is the way of salvation. There is only one mark – His will. Sin is to miss the mark. His will is made known and often I find that every instinct, thought, reaction, emotion, perspective, fiber of my being wants to do something else. I don’t need to go in the opposite direction to sin. A miss is a miss. An inch is as good as a mile. So I am constantly called to repentance: to think again, choose a new course, align myself with Him. Repentance involves my agreement with Him. If His Spirit whispers that I missed, that my being was not spot on with His will and His ways, I agree and align. I don’t argue, justify, excuse, blame, pout, withdraw, resent, lose heart, self-pity. This would simply be compounding the sin. I agree and align. “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Is 30:15) Let’s keep clear in our hearts what our real problem is and keep aligning ourselves with our loving, redemptive Creator. We died, but He has drawn us back to Himself which is life.

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