21 Dec 2022
The human before the fall: Man was the noblest of this world’s occupants, a creature made for fellowship with God and given great intellectual and moral potentialities.
In the fall, man became spiritually ruined; he lost his uprightness, the image of God in which he was made, and was banished from God’s favour – he deteriorated in his condition and became so perverse as to be proud, vainglorious and self-satisfied. Because sin has darkened his mind, he is not inclined to take his fallen state seriously and these shallow views of sin are a barrier to true faith. He continues to trust in his own works for salvation and never learn to look to Christ for his righteousness – he is hopelessly enslaved to sin and he becomes corrupt, defiled, vile and full of rottenness. If we think that we have made much progress in this modern and current world, we only need to read the daily news and see the atrocities, the cruelties, the immoralities and the hypocrisies demonstrated, now only at the individual level, but at the national and international stage.
Union with Christ in His death and resurrection is ours the moment we trust in Him and we are brought into a new creation, transferred from the old world order in Adam into the new order in Christ, no longer under the dominion and power of sin and Satan, but now under the lordship and rule of our new Master, Christ Himself.
But understanding what has happened to us may take longer in our new Christian life. Our foolish hearts have been darkened and our minds so ingrained with a false perspective on everything for so long as unbelievers that a long process is needed for us to break away from our old way of life. We are not people who were never addicted to sin; hence we therefore need to exercise lifelong vigilance against it and not let sin reign again in our life.
Being divinely empowered so that we grow stronger in Christ has nothing necessarily to do with performing spectacularly by human standards; it has everything to do with knowing and feeling that one is weak. In this sense, we grow stronger by growing weaker. God-given strength is a matter of being enabled by Christ Himself, through the Spirit,to keep on keeping on in personal holiness before God, personal communing with God, personal service of God, and personal action for God. For only at the point where we faced and felt the reality that our natural strength is insufficient and admitted it that we see and experience divine empowering. The power pitfall is self-reliance; divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness.
We are all inclined to subjectivism in our understanding of God and His ways; it is natural to think of ourselves as wise, not by reason of divine teaching but through the independent exercise of our own judgement. We tend to be largely unconscious of our lapses and we only become aware of them as we test ourselves by Scripture and ask God to search our minds and teach us to criticise our own thinking. This is a discipline we cannot afford to shirk. There is therefore the need to take time constantly to commune with God and to allow the Spirit to teach us and to illuminate the Bible for our understanding; there is a real need to be truly teachable and to cultivate a humble and gentle spirit to what the Spirit has to reveal. Often, we have been too busy doing to take time to reflect on being. As a result, we suffer from a loss of our Christian identity and forget who we really are in Christ.