Sometimes I feel like I have split personalities – but don’t send me to a psychiatrist! I promise I’m not crazy…okay, so I am. But not that kind of crazy!
Listening to a great sermon by Tim Keller on Romans 7, it hit me. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll said it best, “Man is not truly one, but truly two.” Unfortunately, for Dr. Jekyll, he found out the hard way that his second person was a lot more evil than he thought.
Unfortunately for me, I am even more evil than I thought.
I already knew a good bit of my depravity. Yet I find more and more sin every day. It seems like the deeper I dig into the dirt of my heart, the more stench I find.I found that out this past week.
This week has simultaneously been a great week and a horrible week spiritually. I could really commune with my Savior over breakfast like I have never done before, and then go out and complain about traffic. Or, on my way home, I could really worship God genuinely in song or be convicted about a great sermon or have a time of prayer…only to waste the rest of the evening in selfishness, laziness, and lust. It was one extreme or the other.
I have never fought so hard against sin. And I have never failed so much!
I’ve had a record number of falls. But I’ve also had a record number of times getting up!
It doesn’t make any sense! It’s like I’m two people – with very little connection between them. There’s Dr. Wells, for sake of illustration (Note: I do not in fact have a doctorate, in case you were wondering). He really wants to do right. He’s dedicated this summer to fighting sin and loving Jesus more and more. He is really passionate about the Gospel and prays for opportunities to share it or encourage fellow believers with it. He tries to pray a lot and read his Bible.
And then there’s Mr. Matt (Note: this has nothing to do with being called ‘Mr. Matt’ by the kids I teach). Mr. Matt is a horrible person. He quickly lets his flesh go whatever direction it wants, without thought for the God who saved him. He doesn’t care about Jesus – only himself. He wastes his life on pointless or (worse yet) destructive things. He lives as a practical atheist, not thinking of God, while putting on a good show if he needs to. He’s a despicable, unthinking, and self-consumed sinner.
Here’s the catch: I am both of those people. And there was no potion I took to transform into one or the other.
Am I the only one like this? Do I really belong in a padded room with a straight jacket? Well, if I do, then so does Dr. Paul and Mr. Saul.
Listen to Paul’s confusing personality in Romans 7:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” -vs. 16, 22-23
Poor guy. He had some issues. If you’re confused, good. Because our dual natures – one fleshly and one redeemed by the Spirit – are at war with each other. They clash worse than plaids with polka-dots. Which leads to a frustrating life. Unless…
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! -vs. 24-25
I like those two exclamation points. They contain the contradiction of the Christian life:
I am a horrible person!
Jesus is a victorious God!
So my goal in life is to have a little less Mr. Matt and a little more Dr. Wells. Or rather, to have a little less me and a LOT more Jesus.
And the best part? If I look to Him and depend on Him, He’s already guaranteed the victory. If He defeated death, I’m pretty sure He can take the temptation I’m facing. So that I can sing as my church did this morning…
Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!
We sing hallelujah!
The Lamb has overcome!
-Dr. Wells/Mr. Matt