Struggling with Sin
“O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death? Thanks be then to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Paul, Romans 7:24-25 The Berean Bible www.Berean.Bible
I see where I made my mistake that day in the Physics 101 class I took at Louisiana Tech University.
The Professor was as excited to be teaching this load of non-physics majors as we were to be taking this required class. He (the Prof) was droning on and on about Kepler and some problem Kepler had with figuring out where an invisible spot was that lay between two planets orbiting each other. The invisible spot was supposed to be a place where the force of gravity between the two bodies is equal. It is called the “Kepler Problem.” Oh, …not the spot, per se, but the whole mental exercise.
The Professor drew two circles on the board (We still had slate chalkboards back then). He said they were planets orbiting each other. He told us the mass of each planet, the distance between them in English miles, and how fast they orbited each other.
Herr Professor went through the class and asked each student where that “invisible spot” is.
The fun thing about being a high functioning Asperberger is that we process information very differently than the “normals” do. It isn’t a boast; it is a simple reality. We see solutions as vividly as you see your hands. The downside is, we have a very difficult time translating what we see in terms that are relatable to the normals. We don’t get that we have to work the problem because that is as valuable as knowing the answer.
The trap of my own arrogance
The professor called on me next. He had just eviscerated a very lovely young woman for not even understanding the question being asked. She was an English Major. I was mad at him for humiliating this very pretty girl in front of everyone.
I went to the board and immediately drew a spot on the board and wrote a number down, representing the actual distance and position between the two planets, and wrote another number down describing the forces being applied on that spot by each planets’ gravity.
As I was walking back to my desk, the professor told me to come back to the board and complete the question he had asked. I went back up to the board.
Her Professor said that my answer is wrong. I told him it is not. He said that unless I can show my work, my answer is wrong. I challenged him that unless he can prove my answer is not the right one, he has no business teaching Physics.
He asked me to leave his class.
I got the ‘F’ I so richly deserved.
What has this got to do with Jesus, Sin and Salvation and Gods gift of Grace and Mercy?
Simple. Just like I needed the discipline of going through the steps to prove my assertion was right in that Physics class, I need to go through the discipline of facing the things the world throws at me.
See…I thought my peers would thank me for embarrassing the Professor. It turns out that I simply put more distance between my peers and me. I showed them that not only am I arrogant, but I cannot understand what others have to go through just to get through their day. I bypassed an essential element of growth and understanding.
Paul wrote Timothy this lesson: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. ” Ephesians 4:15-16 New International Version (NIV)
The Process of Temptation
We will grow.
Just like the cotton plant.
It only grows really strong roots and a full cotton bowl AFTER it has been placed outside the greenhouse, and into the field. There, the plant faces lightning, hail, high winds, heat, and storms that can drown it. That is the only way to build a healthy and strong bowl of cotton. If it doesn’t face these things, the fruit it bears is weak and useless.
If I belong to the Living God through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, then I must grow to be like Him.
In the place of our sin and sin nature, Jesus gave us the gift of His place before God. We are now God’s beloved, we are now Heirs to the Throne of Heaven. We are complete and perfect in God’s eyes.
The whole process of temptation is not because God is powerless to stop it, but to reveal in us where our sin nature must give way to the nature of our risen Lord, who was tempted in all ways, like we are, but without sin.
Growing is a process. It cannot be bypassed if you are a Human living on this planet, in this universe, in this time.
I was unwilling in that Physics class to succumb to the discipline of doing the hard work simply because I could accurately give the answer every time. This kind of knowledge is useless if you cannot share it or explain it. Something about having to solve the problem is part of learning. You get to see where your weaknesses are and where the discipline of doing has increased your understanding.
It isn’t when things are going well that Christ is revealed in us. It is when we are facing the taskmaster of sin and slavery that we discover where our strength comes from. It is how we deal with strong temptation that we learn where we apprehend God’s grace. It is in this crucible, suspended over the cauldron that threatens to dissolve us that we discover that, “One like the Son of God” stands in this furnace with us. We would not survive this life without His presence. We would have no hope of the next life without His presence in this one.
That’s the point, isn’t it?
AND WHEN WE HAVE OVERCOME.
We will not be exactly like Jesus until we see Him face to face. But we will grow to be like Him. He faced terrible temptation and torture on our behalf. His lesson here is, we must go through these things to be purified. We face these things so we can understand why His Grace is sufficient. These lessons in temptation are meant to refine us and make us more like Him and less like ourselves so we can share Him with others who also struggle as we struggle.
What is revealed in the act of solving the problem tends to be more valuable than if you simply assume you get it.
Let’s not be reticent to do the hard work. Let’s learn these lessons temptation brings us.
Let’s not be like the man who puts his hand in the jar, but refuses to lift it to his mouth. Do you see the food, but refuse to eat?
Let’s strive to understand why it is true that, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Take the time it takes to face these things that tempt you. Face the things that sweetly desire to destroy you. Don’t run from the wearying effort of submission to His will. It IS hard. It is challenging. It is draining. It can crush your soul if you are not careful or if you try to do this on your own understanding.
Here is the lesson. You don’t have anything in you but sin. He offers you His Holiness in exchange for your sinful nature. That was the deal He made with God by going to the cross and dying of all your sin.
Just because you see the answer doesn’t mean you understand the answer.
Let’s be about it
David G. Perkins