As this is a continuation of two former blogs in which I discussed the essence and nature of sin and faith, a brief summary might be helpful at this point. We’ve learned that sin is more than acts or even thoughts. It’s a condition of the heart in which we are enslaved to foolish thinking, desiring, and responding. Sin is a power within us that corrupts everything about us—mind, emotions, and will. Sinful thoughts and actions flow out of corrupted desires. Sin causes us to wrongly evaluate what is truly worthy and thus affects us in what we trust. Because God created us to glorify Him by enjoying Him supremely, our sinful condition demands His judgment on us. God’s wrath is kindled against sin, because it belittles His worth and robs Him of glory. Such is our state in sin apart from Christ.
In John 6, we see Jesus feeding 5000 people with five barley loaves and two fish. Plainly this miracle demonstrated to those people (and to us) that He is God, capable of making something from practically nothing. This Jesus is the Son of God who spoke all creation into existence (Colossians 1:16). No doubt, He is omnipotent deity. He performed this sign of the loaves so that they would see His glory and be drawn to Him through it. It seems that from the account that the crowd did indeed see Him as a miracle worker, and maybe even as God. Their response was to call Him a prophet (v. 14). But Jesus perceived their intentions to make Him king and pulled away from them. He knew that in their heart was the mere craving of bread and the absence of seeking after His glory. These people wanted to make Him king because He could deliver the goods, were not drawn to Him because they wanted Him. They wanted His gifts—and they wanted them apart from the person of the gift. They did not see the sign, but only bread (v.26). The sign was intended to point to a greater reality, to a greater gift, a greater delight. The sign was to point to the glory of Christ, His infinite worth and beauty. He is the Bread of Life (v.35). It was Him they were to love, not the physical bread. They were content with the taste and temporary sustenance of barley loaves, when the Bread of Life was available to them. All they had to do was believe! (v.29).
Anyone who is a believer in Jesus Christ can testify to the struggle of battling with sin. Though we have new life in Christ, that life is anything but one removed from the absence with this struggle. Daily fighting is necessary to say “no” to temptation. We quickly learn that our personal resources are not sufficient in this battle. Clearly we know that we need God’s word, the work and power of the Holy Spirit, and prayer. We know we need to keep a clear view of the finished work of Christ and a biblical community that helps us stay focused, that challenges us and encourages us. All these are necessary and important. But what is the goal of it all? Why battle against sin? What are we fighting for? What is the goal of avoiding a yielding to temptation? The goal of the battle and method of the battle are inextricably connected—to know and live in the fullness of God, trusting Him to be all that our hearts need and crave. The battle means we must accurately understand the essence and effects of sin and search the Bible in order to find God’s remedy. What we will find is that the solution is faith. Let’s look deeper.
There are many base sins that drag us alone in life, making us miserable. We experience sin as coming from other people, but also from within ourselves. So we often respond sinfully to the sins of others. Wow, we are a mess. But there is no sin that seems to bring the displeasure of God than that of self-righteous pride. Interestingly, the nature of this sin tends to blind us from its presence in us, since we think highly of our standing before God and other people. To whom then are we accountable? Who can be helpful in battling our sin when we either refuse to see it, or we disqualify those who could as worse sinners than ourselves? This is an ominous dilemma resulting in broken relationships and hardened hearts, as the sin of pride makes unavailable gracious help where needed.
Enjoying Being Made Different
God’s design of gender is fascinating to me. Beyond the obvious reason of reproduction, what is God’s purpose in making male and female? Personally, I enjoy aspects of both genders. Having a wife, two sons and two daughters, I have first-hand experience of the complexities and delights of relating to men and women in the context of a household. As a husband to a wife, I enjoy specific aspects of my wife’s femaleness that transcend every other relationship that I have with other women, including my daughters. As a dad to daughters, femaleness is seen, enjoyed and appreciated in ways that are not present in my sons. As a dad to sons, there is a unique way in which we relate as men that is deeply enjoyable and different than those experiences with either my wife or daughters. Some of these differences are owning to that each of these family members is a unique individual, with his or her own specific personality, likes and dislikes, quirks and peculiarities. On the other hand, there is something profound to be said about gender in making up the differences that I enjoy and appreciate in them all. Outside my family, I experience the uniqueness of gender in various contexts and relationships. As a counselor, I find that though the fundamental struggles of life are common to all people, being broken and living in a broken world, there are unique ways in which I experience men and women in the counseling room. Those differences are sometimes very difficult to explain, being woven into a complex array of the many things experienced in a counseling relationship. Suffice it to say, that God’s design of gender is good, as is all of His creation, and that His unique design of gender is to be enjoyed as He intended it. There is a sense of understanding gender in accordance with God’s intention of design that is prerequisite if we are to rightly enjoy and appreciate the distinction of the sexes. I’d like to use this blog to explore more about what it means to be a man in accord with God’s design.