I had lunch with my mentor the other day. Our meetings are meant to be of a somewhat serious nature. He did not agree to meet with me regularly just to talk about the weather, sports or politics. He takes time out of his busy schedule to give me wisdom and encouragement as I try to navigate all the trials of life. But we do get caught up in small talk at times.
When we meet I usually have something heavy on my heart, often some failure on my part that I plan on talking to him about. But this particular day, like many before, I was tempted to keep our conversation on lighter things and avoid bringing up the thing that was weighing heavy on my heart. I wanted to avoid this topic, partly because I didn’t want to reveal to him that I was failing to put all my effort into a task he had given me, and partly because I didn’t want him to feel that he is wasting his time trying to help someone who keeps failing in the same way over and over.
It is so frustrating to go on year after year, failing in the same way over and over. It is so frustrating knowing what you need to do and how you need to do it, but never being able to fully commit because you have other desires that always seem to get in the way. It is frustrating to feel like you’re never going to get it right.
I don’t even have to ask if you have ever felt this way, because I know that everyone feels this way about certain areas of their lives. Right now, I bet you are thinking of at least one area of your life in which you feel exactly as I just described.
Did you know that every failure in our lives is the result of one particular failure? Every failure, no matter what it is, starts with a failure to obey the following command of the God who created us.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
― Matthew 22:37 ESV
Every mistake we make in our lives is the result of our hearts, souls and minds not being fully surrendered to God. If our hearts were fully surrendered to God, then we would love both him and others with a love as perfect as his. If our minds were fully surrendered to God, then we would see things as he sees them, and we would treat people as he treats them and behave in situations as he would behave in them. Basically, if we were fully surrendered to God, we would reflect his perfect righteousness with everything we think and do.
But we don’t, do we? Much of the time, we look more like a reflection of Satan than we do a reflection of God. You are repulsed by that statement, aren’t you? Well, I am too. But nevertheless, that statement is true.
We were created to reflect God’s righteousness with everything we think and do, but we spend much of our time reflecting Satan’s unrighteousness with our thoughts and actions.
We do not love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind. This is the root of all our failures. This is why we go on year after year, failing in the same way over and over. This is why we spend so much time knowing what we need to do and how to do it, but never doing it. We are not fully surrendered to God.
What can we do? What is the cure for our condition? Or is there a cure at all?
Simple answer: the Gospel.
God created us to be his children and to think and behave in a way that reflected his perfect righteousness to the world. But we rebelled and sinned against him, which resulted in our hearts and minds being corrupted by our sin and our being separated from him.
But God promised us a salvation by which he would recreate us and make us what he originally created us to be. Around 2,600 years ago God spoke this promise through the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion.
― Jeremiah 33:8 NLT
I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again…
― Ezekiel 37:14 NLT
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.
― Ezekiel 36:26 NLT
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
― Ezekiel 36:27 NASB
Pay attention to what God is promising here. He is promising to cleanse us of our sins, forgive our rebellion, place his Spirit in us, give us new life, remove our corrupted hearts and replace them with hearts capable of responding to him. And finally, he will “cause” us to walk in his statutes and observe his ordinances.
The salvation God promises us is a complete salvation, where he is the agent of change from beginning to end. He is the one who will recreate us and make us what we were originally created to be. Salvation is not God giving us the ability to recreate ourselves, it is God recreating us.
600 years after these promises God the Son left heaven, took on a human body, and was born as the God-Man named Jesus in order to purchase this salvation for us with his life, death and resurrection.
If we trust in the God who promised us salvation and trust in the Savior who purchased that salvation, we can experience that salvation and be recreated into what we were put here on earth to be. We don’t have to live the rest of our lives as constant failures. All we have to do is fully surrender our lives to God and let him start recreating us.
Now, parts of salvation are instantaneous, and parts are a process. Cleansing, forgiveness, new life and a responsive heart are instantaneous the moment we trust in the promise of God and the work of Jesus for our salvation. But God will spend the rest of our lives renewing our minds and producing within our hearts a love that reflects his perfect love.
If you are a child of God, you are a work in progress. His work, not yours.
If you are not his, please call out to him now to save you before it is too late.