Daily Applications of God's Word
Personal Destructive Traits Examined
We begin our examination of the destructive personal traits with a quote from the Apostle Paul who said:
This quote stirred within me after stumbling upon it for weeks. Curiosity not only crested about the hope God has that Paul saw, but the object to which we are being subjected - vanity. Wow!
At the time I was reworking a Christian resource proposed to minister to street people suffering from destructive personal traits such as addiction and abusive anger. The light came on, the traits that I had been seeking to answer were not separate and detached from one another, they were manifestations of one larger whole.
- The deeper I dug the more profound the sense became:
- That there is reason/purpose we are going through the life turmoil that we are going through, a twist of free will called vanity, for which reason God will be praised and totally justified for in the end for having put us through.
- That there is a common thread through out our destructive nature no matter which form it chooses to manifest itself by connected to this vanity and a consistent process intended to deliver us from point "A" to God's final hope point "B"
Now before one locks on to the thought that vanity is a merely puffed up self exalting pride, let me counter that spiritually speaking vanity can be an image of God that serves one's own purpose that has very little with who God really is... an idol or false image.
Bingo! What about all of the mentions of vain imagination in the Bible? What about all the mentions of idols and false gods? The talk about the hearts' deceit and deception? What about all the times God would reach out to Israel, perform some miraculous deliverance, only to have the Jews immediately run off to imaginary foreign deities? What about the reprobate mind? The curse of Adam? Are they just stories? Are they just history? Or could they be spiritual blue prints?
My mind was racing.
I decided to browse the Internet and find a pre-assembled resource that dealt with these issues in this larger context. What I found were rehashed lists of topical Bible verses (not to say that there is anything wrong with Bible verses rather to say that there is something that comes up short with lists that skirt the Bibles' larger overall context). Without the context these lists tell you more about what not to do then they do how not to do it?
So I was back to constructing my own resource.
This initial glimpse of context kept leading me always back to the cross of Jesus. What did the cross mean? Was it only for an eventual salvation into heaven? Was it to mean a salvation in our daily walk down here? I kept reading about new creatures...old things passed away... all things becoming new (kjv@2Corinthians:5:17) a new man (filter:NONE new man ) a peculiar people... zealous of good works (kjv@Titus:2:14). Could this be God's ultimate hope?
It goes without saying that short of God revealing Himself to us directly that our image of God is going to be far off the mark. If this sense of context is correct, then it should be observable that in anything short of God revealing Himself to us that our efforts to manage or contain these personally destructive manifestations would be of minimal benefit.
I saw this evidence written all over the faces of the people that I was attempting to write this ministerial resource for. They had tried everything that their mind could conger up, even religion, to no avail. I asked myself "what gives"? My answer "their image of God"!
Enter the reprobate (God absent) mind. This is the part of us that seeks to minimize what otherwise should be plainly obvious, that seeks to justify it's own worth despite evidence to the contrary. In the street ministries you see it all the time, the alcoholic that doesn't think he has a problem, the abusive male that swears it wasn't his fault, the habitual liar that can't understand why nobody believes him. And if this element be consistently true in their cases then why is it not true in each of our cases?
Returning back to the cross I realized that not one of the witnesses of the crucifixion knew what to say or do when it came time. Like a pack of disbanded jackals, they circled their own tails in shell shock and confusion. What their mind had told them was going to happen, what their minds told them they were needing to do, all became far distant from what Jesus was prepared single handedly to do for them. They hadn't a clue what was taking place.
Our perception of that event today is no different than back then. We struggle to intellectualize why Jesus did that on the cross. What is so terrible about the way we live that He'd have to sacrifice Himself? We ask "I haven't murdered or stolen or coveted my neighbors' ox... what sin is He talking about?" "My sins are no worse than any others... how could He ever judge me?"... "Didn't Jesus go just a little over board?"
You see the trick of the reprobate mind? It has reduced spiritual concepts down the points that it can justify. It is always justified no matter how angry and abusive and addicted and envious and slanderous and slothful and perverted and greedy and disparaging or vengeful it does or doesn't become. It is always justified no matter how well it does or doesn't contain and suppress the manifestations of self. It is always what it is and that is why Jesus had to die on the Cross.
This, the reprobate mind, the vain imagination, the false image, the continually deceitful heart, the enmity of the flesh against God is much of why Jesus did what He did. It was the only way, it was God revealing Himself directly to us in a way that our vanity could not contort but only freely oppose.
- This is why then:
- We have to be born again, be made a new creature in Christ, become a seed sown for this time in the decomposing soil of our former self.
- We must be set apart, transformed, renewed, struggle against the consequences of our old self and become established in the exercise of our new senses.
- We must reach to others mutually in the Lords' love and instruction and edification.
- We must rely squarely on Christ, His salvation, His redemption, His process and lordship.
Seems like over kill for a tiny little problem doesn't it? What if it is not as little as one thinks? What if it is a manifestation of something a whole lot more vile and complex?
You may not have yet come the point of seeing the hope of God for what it is. In His hope you will see His mercy and His providence and His kind hearted will and His loving possession. Battling your destructive traits is one certain way that the Holy Spirit can show this truer image of God. I hope that you will travel onward with us through this resource.
Each discourse that follows is formatted in a similar fashion to remind us of the consistent scriptural context. You may cherry pick the topics of greatest interest to you or follow along discourse by discourse to see the fuller application of the context. With in each discourse I have provided links to a growing wealth of further resources and links to key areas of reader discussions and comments.
My hope is that at some point you'll be willing to share this resource to the others you know in most urgent need.
May God Bless your efforts!