One of the things I have enjoyed watching recently is videos of climbers scaling Mount Everest and K2. There is an acceptance that above a certain altitude the risk of death is extreme amd that only with a combination of favourable factors such as good weather, health and progress can a safe return be acheived. Likewise I have been fascinated at how some people have vocally railed against Covid vaccination only to succumb and die from the virus. Human beings can be extraordinarily hard headed even when their life is at risk and the possibility of changing their mind might be too late. Insurance companies have no doubt priced this in. Elite sports and other high profile people have a propensity to assume risk and once their fame has gone, to engage in self destructive behaviour as they struggle to adjust to life in the slow lane of obscurity.
In much the same way people deal with their problems in a risky way, seemingly enjoying their pain or shame; driven to self destructive decisions and actions.
The Bible has long recognised this trait. Psalm 53: 1 (Living Bible)
Only a fool would say to himself, “There is no God.” And why does he say it? Because of his wicked heart, his dark and evil deeds. His life is corroded with sin.
Psalm 55:10 (Living Bible)
Though they patrol their walls night and day against invaders, their real problem is internal—wickedness and dishonesty are entrenched in the heart of the city.
I hate my problem but ....
Many people will acknowledge thay have a problem, a habit or something that seems to have a control over them. Common problems are addiction to drugs, pornography, gambling, "retail therapy" as well as moral failures such as greed, overeating, stealing, sexual promiscuity and so on. Some may candidly admit they would like to change but change takes two steps:
- admit that there is a problem
- willingness to give up the problem behaviour
Moses encountered this in his dealings with the Pharoah of Egypt during the plagues that affected the Egyptians but not always the children of Israel. Each plague was a direct challenge to the beliefs and gods of Egypt. Heqet (Egyptian ḥqt, also ḥqtyt "Heqtit"), sometimes spelled Heket, is an Egyptian goddess of fertility, identified with Hathor, represented in the form of a frog.
Exodus 8: 8-10 (Living Bible)
Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and begged, “Plead with God to take the frogs away, and I will let the people go and sacrifice to him.” “Be so kind as to tell me when you want them to go,” Moses said, “and I will pray that the frogs will die at the time you specify, everywhere except in the river.” “Do it tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.
Whose slave are you?
Pharoah wanted to be rid of the frogs but was willing to play with them for one more night. Many people would like to give up their drugs, pornography, marital infidelity and so on but want one more night to gratify their appetite. They lack a hatred of their sin and although they know their lifestyle is self destructive there is an unsatisfying pleasure that is derived from it that leaves them empty and unfulfilled but unwilling to break free. In blunt terms they are slaves to their desires.
Jesus described it this way in John 8: 34-36
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
2 Peter 2:19
They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves to depravity. For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.
If the Son of God, Jesus Christ, sets you free, you are truly free.
John 1:12 Living Bible puts it like this
Even in his own land and among his own people, the Jews, he was not accepted. Only a few would welcome and receive him. But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them.
Putting our trust in Jesus to set us free from sin and a willingness to become a disciple of Jesus requires a willingness to give up our own life and live a new life in Christ.
Mark 8: 34
Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. “If any of you wants to be my follower,” he told them, “you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely.
Image by Rohit Tandon on Unsplash