Not Our Own
It is amazing to me how good we are at deceiving ourselves. One moment we are doing something we should not be and in the next moment acting as if the previous moment never occurred. Seeing things for what they are rather than how we’d like them to be can be a challenge. Every man who committed an evil act began in that act with good intentions. Hitler wanted to see the German people be proud in being German again. His love for his people, and his culture drove him to madness. He is now considered the most evil man of the 20th century if not the most evil man to have ever walked the face of the earth. Hitler had deceived himself into thinking that his actions were right, despite the physical evidence proving that they were not. We, in many ways, mimic this foolishness in our everyday life. We fool ourselves into believing that our right intentions justify our bad choices and the reality is they don’t.
When I was in youth ministry, there was a young guy in the worship band that I was working with. He was the worship leader of the youth band and had a unique vocal style that really made his worship scream authenticity. It was an awesome thing to witness this young man grow, and become even more effective both as a musician and as a worship leader. One decision however changed all of that. After leaving that position I had heard that the young man I had been working with was essentially removed from the worship band altogether. When seeing the youth pastor some months later I asked him what had happened with this student and was heartbroken by what he said. In an effort to “witness” to his unsaved friends at school, this student had made the decision to smoke weed and drink alcohol underage. This young man had deceived himself into believing that since his motives were righteous so were his actions. A young man with enormous potential allowed it to slip right through his fingers by deceiving himself into believing that sin was somehow going to win his unsaved friends to Christ. Now, for most of us, this is an easy thing to see as a mistake.
What are we to do if the decision isn’t as black and white though? What if, in the heat of the moment, someone says something to you that is disrespectful or mean? What is your reaction? I for one can say that in the moment my knee jerk reaction has always been to retaliate, to exchange blows with them (whether those blows come from the mouth in the form of words or with my fists). This is obviously wrong and after coming to Christ, I began working on conducting myself in a manner that reflected Christ well. After some time I had thought that, I had finally dealt with this issue and then was called out on the floor by a fellow believer. It appeared that while I was no longer cussing at people or throwing a punch I was still retaliating in more subtle sneaky ways. These were actions that I took believing that the person was deserving of justice, or that they needed to be “corrected”. Now these thoughts were not ones consumed with vengeance but were earnest concerns for seeing God’s justice come to fruition and for seeing a person repent in Christ and be reconciled to Him. These intentions are righteous ones…but my actions that followed these motivations were about as far from appropriate as building a snow man in the house. Both instances are a waste of time and end up leaving you with a horrible mess to clean up. Self-deception is a serious threat to authentic Christian living and it is something that we must be ever-conscious of.
Christians have been doing this self-deception thing for quite some time starting in the garden. Satan only needed to nudge Eve and Adam into the direction of the apple and their ability to rationalize took over from there. In Romans 6:15-23 Paul reminds Christians of our call and position in Christ. In doing this, he splits all of humanity into two camps, those who are slaves to sin, and those that are slaves to righteousness. Those who are slaves to sin have death and wrath awaiting them on the other side of this life. Those who are slaves in righteousness have eternal peace, life, and joy awaiting them. Each side is very real, and each side carries with it very real consequences. It is amazing then how we as American Christians have deceived ourselves into believing that a third option exists where slavery is not an option. This third option is one that many Americans exercise, where their American freedoms stand on a ground as sacred to them as Scripture and where Old Glory represents the pinnacle force for good in the world. This is self-deception. We have fooled ourselves into believing that God is somehow interested in our free exercise of our faith. We have fooled ourselves into believing that freedom is a license to do as we please and the reality is, we aren’t. Notice in Romans 6 that we are given only TWO options…there is no third. We are bound to either death or to life…there is no in between.
In Galatians 2:20 Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” When we come to Christ, we give up our own way of doing things. We surrender our lives, our agendas, our “rights” before his throne in obedience to His call on our lives. The use of the word “slave” in Romans 6 is not done by mistake. Some may ask why it is then advantageous to be a Christian since their condition has not changed but only their owner. The reason I give most often is this; because before we belonged to a cruel master whose fate is tied to death. In Christ, we are made a slave to a master that is always just, always good, and always loving. We are made a slave to a being whose very presence radiates life and joy. In Him, we are given our lives, and so much more. Since this is the case stop lying to yourself, stop telling a story that isn’t true. Live in truth knowing where you really stand and living your life in accord with it. I think that when you are honest with yourself that it will be much easier for you to navigate this thing called life; I know it has been for me. Peace and blessings and thank you for reading.
With Love in Christ
Justin (AKA The Nerdy Theologian)