How does life-change happen? I mean, changing our character? To summarize the last few days:
1. God’s part: Reveal Jesus.
2. Our part: Fix our eyes on Jesus.
3. God’s part: Convict us of our sin.
4. Our part: Die (to that sin)
5. His part: Forgive, empower, restore.
6. Our part: Live (for Christ)
This is the pattern for life-change in scripture. For example, let’s talk about Isaiah. In Chapter 6,
1. God gives him Isaiah a powerful vision.
2. He sees the Lord, high and lifted up.
3. God makes him aware of his sin.
4. His first reaction? Woe is me!! Brokenness. Death.
5. God sends the seraph with the burning coal, and forgives him.
6. Isaiah volunteers to be God’s servant. See?
Remember, sin can only be FORGIVEN through shed blood, the blood of Jesus (Heb. 9:22). And sin can only be OVERCOME by death—Jesus’ death, yes, but also our death with him (Romans 6:4). Only death breaks the bonds of sin. The death of Jesus, and MY death IN Jesus (Romans 7:1-4). Fasting won’t do it, worship won’t do it, self-control won’t do it. As Bonhoeffer once said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” And of course, as we lose our lives (dying to what binds us) we find the abundant life we’re looking for. Anything less—or more—is a works based Gospel and is no Gospel at all (Gal. 1:7, 3:1,2).
What does this mean for me today, this Thursday? For you?
Well, #4 is the key. When the Holy Spirit convicts you (and I) of both our specific sins and of our weakness in general, we’ve got to let it happen. Don’t interrupt him before he’s done exposing you. And don’t glaze over a perfect opportunity for some brokenness by hiding behind a quick apology.
When you find yourself spinning out in a crisis or under expectations way over your head, don’t give yourself a pep talk and pretend to have what it takes. Don’t suck it up. You will never receive God’s strength until you stop play acting and come to the end of your own rope.
When pain rakes over the tender wounds it creates in your soul, don’t pull away. Don’t shut off. Don’t deny it. Don’t desensitize your emotional core. Instead, let it break you. Come apart in God’s presence, and hurt there. He will comfort you.
If God graces you with a manifestation of His power or a revelation of His glory, like our brother Isaiah, let it floor you. Don’t fight to keep your chin up high. Let Him humble you.
If you find yourself wrestling with God over an obedience issue, yield to Him. Let your pride snap. Let him win. Don’t think He wants you to retain your poise, your image, or your pride; that will only quench His Spirit.
If a miracle, sunset, or mountain range takes your breath away, be humbled. Be awed by your God. When God confronts you, let yourself come unravelled. In a sense, give in. Give up. Let yourself crash. In the Name of Jesus, be broken.
If he touches your life with extravagant generosity through one of his children, don’t be a prude. Be humbled. Let the gift, which should remind you of the scandalous love your Father has for you, break your heart.
Frightening, isn’t it? The hair stands up on the back of my neck just thinking about it. But this is the valley of decision. What God is looking for in those circumstances is a kind of passivity; that is, refusing to establish ourselves, defend ourselves, or pull ourselves together. He must do it.
Its a question of power, of Lordship. In the garden, Eve and her dimwitted hubby wer tempted to improve themselves and establish themselves on their own strength. The rest is tragic history. Eons later, God rightly decreed that no one can enter His Kingdom standing upright. We all enter on both knees. Actually, we all enter through a grave. What will you choose today?