In today's world, we hear SO MUCH about "self" programs: self-help, self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect, self-love, and so on. It seems this world has a love affair with 'self"; it's practically in our faces, surrounding us 360 degrees in all directions. We are told we need to "believe in ourselves", 'love ourselves", "esteem ourselves" and so on. Turn on the TV for any amount of time and this is readily evident in both the programming as well as the "commercials" that come on, as well as in movies themselves, games, talk shows, books, magazines, and practically ALL media.
And it permeates the world we live in, seeping down through all its' fibers.
You can see the common thread in all of this: it's all about the "self." It's all about fulfilling our desires, the things that make us feel GOOD, and avoiding all pain and discomfort.And this is no better demonstrated than when we are angered and someone either does something we don't want them to do, tries to infringe on our "rights" or otherwise makes us feel threatened, that we are no longer "in control":
"WHO does he/she think they are? Telling ME what to DO? How DARE they tell me I can't do this/that? I have the RIGHT!!! THEY crossed ME, I didn't do a THING to them. Well, they've got ANOTHER THING COMING!! After I'm done with them, they'll be SORRY!!! NO ONE TELLS ME WHAT TO DO!!!"
The Bible gives us some insight on why we are like this:
"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. " (James 1:4-7, KJV, emphasis mine)
James tells us in these verses it is because we want and cannot have. In short, we are all about ourselves, and we as a race get violent and upset when we cannot get our way. We focus on OUR wants, OUR needs, OUR desires, and all to the detriment of all else and all others. we end up not caring about others because we are too busy caring and trying to fill the void in us that sin creates. When we separated ourselves from God, a limitless hole was created in us; the unsaved attempt to fill this with material goods, temporal "power", wealth, positions, etc. But none of these fill us because unlike God, we cannot exists independently.
We AREN'T God.
All of this started at the Garden of Eden, when man first rebelled against the Lord:
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." (Genesis 3:6-7, KJV)
That's the spark of rebellion that is within all of us; the core of sin.
The word "rebellion" is from the root word "rebel", which is either a noun or verb. As a verb, it means to reject the authority that exists, and to act against it. As a noun, it means to be one who commits this act, and is known for such acts. Seeing as the human race as a whole has both committed these acts and is known for them, we are very rightfully classified as rebels, and our act ans INSURRECTION against the One True God. And in rebelling from God, we essentially said "we don't NEED you!" to him. We declared that we are sufficient unto ourselves and that we are complete in of ourselves. But we aren't. In our rebellion, we are like unto children who run away from home and tell our folks we don't need them anymore, yet we keep coming back for dinner, laundry, bedtime, and when we are hurt. What we REALLY want from God is for Him to run all the HARD stuff, and for us to have the say over the stuff we LIKE. We want God to take care of sustaining us, but for us to have power over the "choice matters" that we desire.
To put it another way:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (2 Timothy 3:1-5, KJV)
In short: we only want to be in charge when it ISN'T tough!!!
And that is where the Gospel comes in: to show man that he have rebelled against God, and that in doing so, he has wronged him. Unfortunately, like most rebellious children, Man don't want to hear the truth: he would just as soon continue inhisr "house of cards", playing all day as if we were God and that NO ONE will tell him what to do!
And ultimately, if he does not repent, he will get what he wants so much: to be by himself, in a place where he can exert all the control that he has within his power....
That place is hell, where those who reject the precious gift of the Lord find out all too quickly that they are NOT God, and are at the whim of a world that, to say the very least, is their worst nightmare.
Now, to those that have partaken of Christ's love gift: we still have this nature. But we also have the Holy Spirit within us as well. We are not alone in our battle against "the old ma" or the flesh, as it were. But we need to be submitted to the Lord in all things:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Romans 12:1-3, KJV, emphasis mine)
We need to let him work on us, in us and through us. We may not be able to rid ourselves of the rebellious nature, but as God works his will in us, we find that the old nature slowly dies, and is replaced more and more by the nature of god. instead of the vile, pernicious hunger and lusting of acquisition, we find a gentle peace growing, as we become satisfied with the table and the bountiful food of the spirit that the lord sets out for us:
"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:11-13, emphasis mine)
So, we have a choice: we can follow this world in it's rebellion against God, or we can follow God and his way of contentment and peace.
I bid you all peace