When you’re in a conversation with another person, the first question asked within American culture is typically “How are you?”…If we’re honest with ourselves, the majority of us ask the question not for the answer of the person we ask, but for the general custom of reciprocating that question. In plain English, we’d rather talk about ourselves than know how others are doing. This is human-nature…in the natural state. Terms like “I”, “Me”, “Myself”, “Mine”, etc become the prefix for a vast quantity of our spoken and written sentences. I’m guilty as well. It’s very easy for me to write to you about myself… how I’m doing, what I’m feeling, the things that have been on my mind, but it’s difficult for me to focus on things that are not of selfish nature; not self-oriented.
All people have certain shortcomings. Some aren’t punctual. Others gossip about their friends. And yet others are simply apathetic to the world around them. All of which are sinful. God created us to love Him and love others. Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to love ourselves…we are commanded to love others as we love ourselves (because God already knows that we love ourselves way too much, which is what makes it difficult for us to love others to that same degree). Society has taught us that in order to be successful, we must have good self-esteem. Our teachers have told us to keep our heads up and to never lose. We’re always selling ourselves to the world.
I’ve got to be honest with you…I, Justin Meyer, am not a very good product to sell. There’s that filthy self-oriented term “I” again. I can’t figure out a way to write this part without it though, so bear with me. I’ve gotten into credit card debt and lied to my parents about it. I’ve dabbled in the sinful world of lust. I’ve squandered a good year or more of my college-education being self-absorbed; whether via social media, chronic-depression, or a very selfish focus within my relationships. God has blessed me with the cream of the crop when it comes to fellowship. Few will ever have the caliber of friends that I do. To those of you that read this, I am incredibly grateful for your patience and unconditional love with me.
The bottom line is that I will fail. Every. Single. Time. I have given up…its okay though. This needed to happen in order for the next leg of the journey to occur. Galatians 2:20 states, “For I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” A few chapters later in Galatians 5:24-25 it says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” So why is it okay that I will fail every single time? Because I must die to myself anyways. The old Justin Meyer MUST be put to death. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” By the power of the cross, I can become a new creation under the authority of Jesus Christ!
Now, by absolutely no means is this easy…I don’t write to you as an expert. I’m an amateur and have much to learn from those before me. Thankfully there’s the Word of God that captures many faithful brothers and sisters in Christ whom have gone before and walked life on the straight and narrow path. There is much comfort, exhortation, and hope to be found in Romans 6 on this issue though. Take a minute to slowly read the chapter that I’ve copied and pasted from BibleGateway.com below. I would’ve only selected a few verses, however, I feel that the entire chapter is very important and speaks the truth of God far better than I could place eloquently into type.
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Slaves to Righteousness
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.
The main point made is that I no longer have to be a slave to sin but I should joyously embrace the idea that I am a slave to righteousness should I choose to follow Jesus Christ as my LORD and Savior with all of my heart. Authentic followers of Christ are incredible difficult to find in the world we live in. 1 John teaches us to examine our hearts often to see if we have been diligently following Christ. I must say that the past few weeks I have certainly not been walking the straight and narrow, but rather I have been attempting to patch the holes in a sinking ship. The ship being me: my dreams, my efforts, my plan. Well folks, that ship has sailed and it has been sunk by the storms of life, the mighty hand of God, and because I was the captain of that ship.
I’ve found myself on a deserted island with nothing but the relationship that I have with Christ, His Word, a notebook, and a few faithful friends that have pledged to stick with me through thick and thin. The battle to die to myself has just begun. In order to advance the Kingdom of God and allow Christ to dwell within me, I must allow myself to kneel before God and state that He has control. Something that is incredibly difficult for a man to do, since we are so prideful in nature.
I mentioned earlier that my personal weaknesses are being self absorbed especially through social media. So through the very strong urge and encouragement of a friend that cares about me immensely, I’ve given him my passwords to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, so that I can only be on them for short periods of time when he’s around. I’ve deleted my Google+ account and Netflix account. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I WILL succeed this semester by the grace and power of God. I WILL give my life over to sharing the Gospel and making Jesus look as good and faithful as He is; whether in conversation, at the gym, or in my professors’ offices when asking for help on my rather intense class line-up.
My prayer tonight is going to be Psalm 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
You can join me in this by praying that God truly becomes my ‘everything’; my portion forever. Also, those of you reading this should seriously examine your hearts as Scripture exhorts us to do and see if you have truly died to yourself and have allowed yourself to live by faith in Christ alone. My prayers are with you all this evening!