Friday, August 23, 2013

The Fire Down Inside

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Thursday, August 22, 2013:  Job 4:1-7:21

Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.  Job 5:7 (NKJV)

Sin is not a popular word these days.  We prefer words like "mistake", "goof", or "mess up."  Our  self-help, therapeutic culture doesn't like ideas as negative as "sin."  Even further, it is hard for some to accept the biblical view of man as FALLEN.  Is man basically good or is something profoundly wrong in our essential nature?

The doctrine of total depravity does not teach, as some mistakenly think, that all men are as bad as they possibly can be.  It simply states that all parts of man are in some way tainted and polluted such that we cannot save ourselves from our dilemma.  Because of this, there is a "bent" inside every one of us that draws us toward the dark side.  There is something dangerous and self-destructive lurking in every man's heart. Most people live lives of "quiet desperation" (to quote Thoreau) keeping this wild fire under wraps and restrained.  

But, occasionally the fire bursts out.  It can happen in a fit of anger, or a lapse into lust.  It can flare up in the pain of broken promises or the hopelessness of depression.  It can go out of control for a time revealing character gaps we did no know were there.  Injustice and regret can smolder in the recesses of the soul.

Job's first counsellor Eliphaz got at least one thing right.  He described our condition as bent from birth.  We are "born to trouble."  You don't have to teach a child how to be bad. They already know.  It comes naturally.  You have to teach them to be good.

This is where Jesus comes in.  Man manages sin by will-power and religion.  God deals with sin be forgiveness and cleansing.  Only Jesus has the power to cure man's sin problem.  In the words of Paul, Jesus sets us free from "the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).  

James refers to this in the imagery of a fire down inside.  He says that the tongue is the match that sets off the forest fire at the very base of human nature. "And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell." (James 3:6)  That phrase "entire course of life", in the original Greek words, is "wheel of genesis".   Because of the fall in Eden, at our very genesis, a fire smolders down inside that threatens to burn up us and everything around us.  It's a fire fueled by hell.

Jesus sets us free from this profound human problem.  If, however, man remains in his sin -- unforgiven and unredeemed -- innate pollution ignites.  "The sparks fly up."  Jesus can put out that fire.  But, man CANNOT ultimately cure or control the fire inside.  It's like trying to catch the sparks that fly out of your campfire.  Those sparks can cause immense damage as they float out into the surrounding world.

We have all heard of tragedies that came from a small, floating spark that ended up burning an entire forest down.  Sin is like that.  We are "born into trouble (sin), and the sparks fly upward."

For that reason, each one of us needs Jesus to deliver us, and we need friends to hold us accountable.  Our incredible tendency toward deception will tell us that we've got everything under control, when really a forest fire is building in your soul.  

Have you confessed your need for Jesus?  This is not a RELIGIOUS question.  It is a RELATIONSHIP question -- a life question.  Just as the tongue is a match that can ignite the fire, so also our words of confession and surrender can be used by God to united us with the Answer.  Again in the words of James, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." (James 5:16)

No comments:

Post a Comment