“Come, Follow Me,” (Matthew 4:19)

To be a follower of the Lord Jesus is more than merely agreeing with what He taught. It is to become an adherent who imitates Him; to have Him as the ultimate role model (1 Peter 2:21). This type of follower is known as a disciple. Being Jesus’ disciple means walking in His footsteps all the way even through rough terrain. Whether the terrain is dark and dreary or characterized with loss and tears, the disciple must never slacken the pace otherwise the enemy will read the cue and move in to steal, kill and destroy. In every situation, our pace must be consistent and unwavering lest we lose sight of the Lord going before us and find ourselves plunged into destructive darkness. To follow Jesus is to be called to a different ethical standard. As disciples, we are called to become like the Lord in purpose because we have the same Holy Spirit that dwells in Him. We read from Scripture that after Jesus had chosen His disciples, He preached what is known as the Sermon on the Mount; a redefinition of morality with specific ethical behavior; a roadmap for disengaging from the tantalizing worldly affiliations that so easily encumber us. This sermon is a call to being transformed by the renewing of the mind through power of the Holy Spirit. To be a disciple is to have a radical paradigm shift. It is to embrace Jesus and His teachings as guidelines for everyday conduct. As disciples, we abandon ourselves to Jesus as both Lord and Savior. For the disciple, “There is no compartmentalization of the faith, no realm, no sphere, no business, no politic in which the lordship of Christ will be excluded. We either make him Lord of all we are and have, or we deny him as Lord of any.”1 He must be preeminent in all facets of our life. He will not take a divided heart and will not compete with anyone or anything. The Bible talks about a certain would-be disciple who pledged fervent love for the Lord and promised to follow Him everywhere. But Jesus’ response was surprisingly dissuasive: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20). Jesus answered people based on their unarticulated motives. He addressed the person not the words that veiled their intention. In this case, Jesus discerned in His spirit that the individual’s motive for wanting to be his disciple was wrong. Jesus did not come to set up an earthly kingdom to impress people with its glory and grandeur. He came to be the Savior and Lord rejected by His own. He came to be taunted and scorned by the same people He came to die for. Jesus came not to glorify Himself, but the Father who sent Him. He was oppressed and afflicted, but never opened His mouth in resistance nor did He fight back. He is the King who allowed Himself to be literally bound hand and foot by his own subjects and still loved them even after they pronounced a death sentence on Him and handed Him over to be crucified. Jesus knew the would-be follower was not looking for that kind of life. Being a disciple is being the light of the world (Matt 5:14), diffusing the glory of the Master; walking where He bids us go even when it is painful, obscure and insignificant in the sight of the world. After all, ultimately, the only opinion that really matters is the opinion of our Creator. To be a disciple is to be the salt that preserves this world. As disciples, we enter into a new, spiritual realm, and attain a new identity. We re-organize our schedules so that Jesus becomes our first priority. We become members of a new family; the eternal family of God composed of blood-bought individuals from every nation, kindred, tongue and people; an unimaginably diverse community with an array of spiritual gifts for edifying each other. As Jesus’ disciples, we die to self so that we may be alive to God. We lose ourselves in Him so that we can find our full selves there. The Golden Calf of self-gratification is detrimental to our relationship with the Lord. As His disciples, we must give Him our dreams, our reputation, our careers, our finances, our purpose, our everything, so that He can make a glorious tapestry out of them. But this act of self-renunciation takes nothing away from us because, in the end, what we really have is what we have surrendered to the Lord. As His disciples, we get to know Jesus’s voice not through doctrinal teachings, but through His eternal presence in our lives. He never gives up on any one. Jesus “washes our feet even when we would betray him.”2 He gently restores and reaffirms our place in the family of God even when our quest for self-preservation leads us to deny Him.

But being a disciple is not a walk in the park. The road is difficult and the gate narrow, and only a few find it although there is room for everyone. The trials and tribulations that beset the disciple are the difficult road and the narrow gate. Our sinful nature resists and rebels against the discipline of turning the other cheek or loving others the way we love ourselves or blessing and praying for those who curse and revile us, which are all characteristics of the kingdom to which Jesus is calling His disciples. But this is how Jesus overcame the kingdom of darkness forever: using the weapon of love. Trials can be excruciatingly painful and draining, physically and emotionally. But we take comfort in the promise that this light affliction we might suffer momentarily as disciples is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). Whatever we have gone through in this life, whatever we will still be called to endure, the Bible insists that it pales into insignificance against the splendor awaiting us. Whatever has been taken from us, God will make it right beyond our wildest dreams and imagination. To be a disciple of Jesus is not to be disadvantaged. It is to be more than a conqueror both in this life and in the life to come….through Him.

“Follow Me,” the call has not changed.

Sources

  1. Camp, L.C..(2003). Mere Discipleship, pp. 19, 23-25.
  2. Ibid.
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I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)-Two Sides of the Same Self-Portraiture

Without Jesus nothing was made that was made (John 1:3) and without Him, there is no resurrection. He is both the life and the resurrection. Life inheres in Him.

The intriguing story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, illustrates and authenticates the claims above. The Bible tells us that Jesus loved the family of Lazarus, Martha and Mary (John 11:5). They were hospitable and kind to Him and received Him in their home from time to time. Therefore, when Lazarus became terminally ill, his sisters sent word to Jesus to inform him about Lazarus’ illness. Ordinarily, when a good friend falls ill with a life-threatening disease, we make it a point to rush to their side to give them the support and comfort they need. But in this case, the Bible says that when Jesus heard about Lazarus’ grave illness, He said “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it,” (John 11:4), and He remained where He was for an additional two days during which Lazarus died. Strangely enough, upon hearing about the death of Lazarus’ death, Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus was merely sleeping. He seemed completely unfazed by Lazarus’ death. He did not even rush to attend the funeral. This must have really puzzled the sisters who must have expected Him to come and heal Lazarus the way He had healed other people, and even raised some from the dead.

Jesus finally went to be with the sisters. When He came near their town, Martha hurried to meet Him while Mary remained at home with the mourners. Martha told Jesus what she thought He would have done if He had been present: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died, (John 11:21).  When Mary finally came to the burial site, she reiterated her sister’s sentiments. They both had faith in Jesus, but they did not understand why He had not risen to their expectations during a difficult time in their lives. May be right now the reader feels that Jesus has abandoned them while they are going through a difficult time. When my daughter died, I knew that Jesus could have healed her if He had willed. But He did not. I still believe in Him even when I do not understand what is going on in the spiritual world; behind the physical veil of this life. When Rick Warren was asked this question during a CNN interview after the death of his son by suicide: “Looking back, is it possible to begin to see purpose in your pain?” He said he had struggled with the “why” questions: “Why didn’t you [God] answer the prayer I prayed every day for 27 years?” The prayer I prayed more than any other prayer went unanswered. But… What you need in tragedy is not an explanation, you need the presence of God.” Truer words have never been spoken. God’s presence in our lives is what has kept my family going, too.

During His conversation with Martha, Jesus made a staggering claim that has forever changed mankind’s view of death: “I am the resurrection and life…,” He said. Martha believed in an eschatological resurrection as she confessed to Jesus. She understood the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. But Jesus was trying to help her understand that the resurrection was not an event, as such. It was the Person standing right beside her. He is the life. Where there is resurrection, death is impotent and where life thrives, death is absent. In a nutshell, in Jesus, there is no death. In Him the dead do not pass into oblivion. They live on although they are separated from the physical life. Lazarus was not late Lazarus to Jesus. He was just Lazarus. Indeed Lazarus’ body had ceased to function and his flesh was decomposing, going back into the dust. But although its chemical properties had begun to disintegrate and the blood was no longer circulating, Lazarus was still within earshot of the voice of Jesus. There is never a point at which we are beyond Jesus’ voice or reach. Before the multitude in Bethany stood One who substituted the present for a future event of hope. What had ceased to exist was merely the tent housing Lazarus (2 Cor. 5:1). But to Jesus, Lazarus was more than his physical body. Human beings are spiritual beings and that is what connects us to our Creator God since the flesh has no interest in divine things (Gal 8:8).

Barclay aptly observed, in “Jesus Christ, we know that we are journeying not to the sunset, but to the sunrise” of eternal life with Him. Jesus’ voice pierced the heart of darkness that had engulfed Lazarus in his death, and shone the light of His life. Jesus completely altered the character of death so that although it remains, it is a powerless leviathan to the believer because of the continuity of life inherent in the Person of Christ, our Lord.

Human understanding is always restricted and crippled by our experiences on this earth. The present so pre-occupies us that it has obscured the future, particularly in spiritual issues.  Judging from what obtained in the present, Martha implicitly told the Lord that He was too late to do anything for Lazarus. Her view was confined to time and space: “If you had been here…” She thought that Jesus had to be physically present in their geographic location to heal her brother. Capitulation to the prison of time and space limits our focus to what we believe to be present reality, and makes us lose sight of that which is possible. Consequently, our straggling modicum of faith becomes frayed by our fixation to the present; to that which is temporary at the expense of the eternal.

Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead reveals to us that He has permanently defeated death.  This means that we have hope even when our loved ones succumb to physical death…

Of Life and Light

All things were made by Him…In Him was life and the life was the light of men (John 1: 3, 4)

The phrase ‘to create’ is now loosely applied to the works and accomplishments of human beings. This phrase is no longer exclusively applied to God. For instance, movies, songs, art and many other accomplishments are often said to be creations of human beings. However, although the phrase is thus applied, there is still a great difference between human accomplishments and God’s creative genius. Only God can bring objects into being, ex nihilo, and impart life to them – both temporal and eternal life.

John introduces Jesus as the pre-existing One through whom all things were created; the Word and co-Creator. Only the source of life can impart life, sustain it, and have authority over it. He alone can destroy it or let it thrive. In the days of His flesh, Jesus demonstrated transcendent power over the regularities of nature. He called back to life dead, decomposing bodies. He infused life in the lifeless cells and tissues of lepers. He defied gravity and strode on water. He spoke to storms and they responded to His voice by quieting down. He demonstrated His power over demonic forces by commanding them to keep quiet and come out of their victims, restoring mental vigor and robustness. He restored sight to the blind using His voice or touch, nothing else. Jesus exuded life in all its fullness. He was the embodiment of life. Through Him inorganic and organic life came to be, spontaneously. He did not have to wait for it to evolve over millions of years from lifeless matter and energy into complex biological forms of life. Life in all its forms was inherent in Jesus although His main focus was eternal life (John 5:24). Earthlings cannot have access to eternal life in Jesus without passing through temporary life.

After the Fall, darkness descended on mankind in the form of sin and death. Mankind was unplugged from the Source of life.  Jesus came to plug us back and to restore us to our original status and place in God.  This is how He destroyed the works of the devil, with His own life.  As the Light of the world, He dispelled darkness. In Him there is no death, nor disease nor sin, only life, and life thrives where there is light as is evident even in the natural world. The darkness that had engulfed our world was so intense that when the Creator arrived, it did not recognize Him (John 1:10). He came unto His own and His own rejected Him except for a band of a few women, fishermen, small business entrepreneurs, and tax collectors. But that was enough. The light He infused in them beamed across the ancient world and continues to do so as a witness to Him who is the Light and Life.

Interesting Info about Prescription Meds

Síle Lane is a scientist who works as director of international campaigns and policy at Sense about Science, which is a charity organization that endeavors to challenge misrepresentations of science and scientific evidence. She advocates for honesty and transparency in scientific research.

It is reported that much information and data related to clinical trials is deliberately being withheld from the general public.1 The data costs not only money and time, but human lives, too. This means that not all medications that are approved and placed on the market for consumption are safe. The health and wellbeing of the general public relies on decision makers composed of physicians, regulators and researchers. However, the effectiveness of decision-making can be compromised if some decision-makers have access to only 50% of the results of clinical trials. In the 1980s a drug called Lorcainide was tested in clinical trials both in the United States and in Europe. Although the findings indicated that individuals who took the medication during the clinical trial were more likely to die than those who were not given the medication, these results were not published until more than 10 years after the drug had been authorized to go on the market. As a consequence, approximately, 100,000 people died from it. Another case involved Tamiflu, an anti-flu medicine. A government regulator in the United Kingdom recommended that the government should buy the drug, based on findings from clinical trials. The government bought it at about £473 million to prepare for a possible flu pandemic. But investigations and analyses of clinical trials about the same drug by an independent research network known as Cochrane found that it was ineffective.

As a response to this alarming scenario, the European Union has passed, which will go into effect in 2018 in which it will be required that all clinical trials conducted within the Union be registered on public databases even before they begin. This way, interested individuals will be able to follow the trials as they unfold. Within one year after the trial is completed, a summary of its findings will be required to be posted on the database. There are also organizations and movements that are springing up such as AllTrials composed of researchers, patients and other stakeholders demanding that policy makers and sponsors of clinical trials publish the findings before they are destroyed. In 2016, the United Nations released a report asserting that all clinical trials results should be published and available to whoever wants to have access to them. Being informed is being armed with power to make appropriate decisions from a position of authority. Ignorance in such cases is not bliss.

 

 

Sources

Lane, S. (2017). The hidden truth about our prescription medications. Science. IDEAS.TED.COM Accessed from http://ideas.ted.com/the-hidden-truth-about-our-prescription-medications/

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, (Hosea 4:6).

Lack of knowledge can be a source of a warped worldview that distorts our outlook to life and hinders us from tapping into the resources available for our physical and spiritual well-being. Lack of knowledge can also lead to a twisted view about reality which can, in turn, can lead to ghastly repercussions. For instance, improper knowledge about HIV, in some parts of the world, led some people to believe that sleeping with a virgin could cure the disease. Such a horrifying distortion of reality can lead to untold suffering as innocent people are placed at risk for infection, which can lead to an exponential spread of HIV. Thankfully, sustained rigorous and aggressive community education by public health professionals has corrected that paradigm. Reality never changes and, as long as we live, we will have constant encounters with it wherever we are, one way or another.  But if our knowledge of it is inaccurate, our encounter with it will be painful or even deadly. This is just one of the numerous examples of the deleteriousness of lack of knowledge.

A second example is that lack of knowledge regarding traffic rules will not prevent accidents. The reality is that if we do not stop our vehicle when the traffic lights are red, we can cause an accident that could endanger our lives and those of other innocent people. Lack of knowledge cannot insulate us from inevitable consequences of erroneous behavioral choices.

In the spiritual realm, lack of knowledge about how to inherit eternal life has negative eternal consequences. Jesus told Nicodemus that being born again (of water and of the Spirit) is the prerequisite to see and enter into the kingdom of God (John 3: 3-5). Denying this axiomatic truth does not change it one bit. God’s Word is infallible. It is neither dependent on popular opinion nor is it impacted by rejection. It stands forever because God will not alter the thing that has gone out of His mouth (Psalm 89:34).  Our spiritual life is the most important aspect of our existence because it determines our eternal destiny. Therefore, right knowledge about our salvation is paramount over any other prospect.

Of Science, Golden Calf, and Religion…

On one occasion, St. Augustine made this remarkable declaration, “The book of nature and the book of Scripture were both written by the same author, and will not be in conflict when properly read and understood.”1 More recently, in 1987, Pope John Paul II said that “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.” Both these statements challenge the prevailing worldview that there is a conflict between science and religion. Yes, I know, I have written about this before, but this is an ongoing dialogue and there is a lot at stake.

St. Augustine and Pope John Paul II both seem to suggest that science and religion have the potential to complement each other and that they are necessary tools for expanding human knowledge about the natural and the spiritual realms. As physical beings, humans need to study and grasp the laws that govern their natural environment. As spiritual beings, they need a good and coherent understanding of the spiritual realm. Few people seem to have found the balance of being both stellar scientists and deeply religious people. Commenting on the wonders of the solar system, Sir Isaac Newton confidently asserted that “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord overall; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God “Pantokrator” or Universal Ruler.”2 This is the conclusion of one of the world’s intellectually eminent astronomers and physicists renowned for his scientific discoveries. Other scientists believe that there is a conflict between science and religion.

Stephen Hawking, another eminent scientist, has concluded that the universe created itself. Hawking argues that the laws of nature such as the law of gravity have the potential to create a universe from nothing. But he does not explain how these laws of nature already in existence could create a universe from nothing. Besides, if the laws were to create a universe, it would not be from nothing. It would be from the laws of nature! The question would be: Where did these laws come from if they were not part of the universe they created? The laws of nature do not of themselves have the potential to create anything. As John Lennox, professor of mathematics (emeritus) at the University of Oxford argues, Newton’s law of motion has never been able to move anything from point A to point B.3 It has never moved a soccer ball from one goal post to another. As such, the laws of nature are there to describe the conditions and occurrence of events in the universe. They do not explain why.

People who mistakenly believe that religion and science are in conflict cite the case of Galileo and the Catholic Church. But, in fact, the real issue with the Galileo case was the “dogmatic embrace of Aristotle’s” teachings by the Catholic Church at that time about geocentricism.4 Galileo’s study convinced him that all planets, including planet earth, revolved around the sun (heliocentrism). Aristotle’s views were vehemently embraced by some Catholic bishops who thought Galileo’s theory of heliocentrism was wrong. This was the real source of conflict between Galileo and the Catholic Church. It was, in essence, Aristotle versus Galileo with some powerful Catholic bishops rooting for Aristotle in his corner. It was not based on the teachings of the Bible.

The world is indebted to scientists and their discoveries that have alleviated indescribable suffering and have tremendously improved the quality of life. But to insinuate, let alone declare, that science is the source of ultimate truth and knowledge or that the more scientific discoveries we make, the less relevant God becomes is to slide down the dangerous slope of trying to transform science into a Golden Calf. Whatever science has discovered does not render the existence of God null and void. Rather, it points the teachable mind to the creative genius of the Agent who brought such an astonishingly, intricate universe governed by the regularities of natural laws into being. He alone sustains the laws of nature since He established them, and He is the only One who can interrupt these laws anytime to cause what we call a miracle. That is why Jesus who is the express image of God could interrupt and reverse the natural law of decomposition of a human body after death, and bring Lazarus back to life four days after death! No one else has ever done that since the universe came to be. But since He created these laws, He can also set them aside for His purpose. They obey Him.

Although science describes to us how our universe operates, it still cannot explain certain realities such as energy, consciousness, gravity… Another area in which science is limited is semiotics, which is the study of the complexity of language using signs and symbols as elements of meaningful communication among people.5 Just how are those squiggly lines and symbols we draw on boards and pieces of paper able to convey specific meaning from one person to another and propel them into responding appropriately? Who can explain, using physics, why we are able to see the letters l-i-f-e- and derive meaning from them? Talking about life, we now know that life is contained in a nucleic acid known as DNA. For human life, this DNA is a humongous database that contains a word not less than 3.5 billion letters long, and carries within it the genetic information and instructions for development of life. Science cannot explain why these letters carry the meaning they do. It can only describe the process they use to develop life. Where there is intelligible information such as the one contained in the DNA molecule, there is a mind behind it to put it together. Scripture says that is how God created the universe; using words and information to call into existence both animate and inanimate things. “He spoke…and it stood fast,” (Psalm 33:9). A great and awesome mind is behind the creation of our universe and all that is in it. Denying it does not make this truth go away.

 

Sources

1.Sheahen, T.P. (2016). Idolatry in Science. American Thinker. Accessed from http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/12/idolatry_in_science.html

2.Newton, I. General Scholium. Translated by Motte, A. 1825. Newton’s Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. New York. Daniel Adee, 501.

3.Lennox, J. (2010). Stephen Hawking and God. RZIM. Just Thinking Magazine. Accessed from http://rzim.org/just-thinking/stephen-hawking-and-god/

4.Schirrmacher, T. (2000). The Galileo affair: history or heroic hagiography? Creation Ministries. Accessed from http://creation.com/the-galileo-affair-history-or-heroic-hagiographyandhttp://creation.com/the-galileo-affair-history-or-heroic-hagiography

5.Lennox, J. (2007). God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Wilkinson House. Accessed from http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/Nave-html/Faithpathh/Undertaker.html

 

God’s Will and Human Expectations

But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened, (Luke 24:21).

This Scripture pulsates with disappointment and discouragement. Two disciples, Cleopas and his unnamed colleague are on their way to their home in Emmaus from Jerusalem, a city abuzz with current news about the recent execution of a young, vibrant itinerant Rabbi who had done many wonders and signs among the people including raising people from the dead and striding across the foamy, tempestuous waves of the sea of Galilee to save a boat of frightened disciples. Everybody had hoped He would be the One to deliver Israel from Roman domination. Unfortunately, He had died a shameful death of crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. Unbelievable!!! What was even more astonishing, said those who had followed the course of events to the end, was that Jesus seemed puzzlingly willing to subject Himself to this humiliating and torturous form of death.

Cleopas viewed and interpreted Jesus’ work and sacrificial death from a natural perspective. His hopes and desires and expectations were dashed because they were at variance with God’s will for His Son. That was the source of his perplexity, bewilderment and even confusion. Now he talks with despondency about the third day since the crucifixion, and the women’s testimony that they had seen the risen Lord, but Cleopas misses the significance, the spiritual implications, and the definitive universal benefits of the entire event. He has an opinion and is trying to justify it. The deliverance he and his ilk had anticipated was a political one. They were more concerned about their physical bondage than their spiritual bondage, which had led to physical bondage in the first place. To Cleopas, Jesus’ death was an unfortunate and disappointing occurrence; a source of dejection and disillusionment.

Looking back in retrospect, we know that he had totally missed the point. But he is not alone in this. Cleopas might as well be my spiritual twin. Alas, there is usually an uncanny dichotomy between God’s way and my own expectations of Him.  Only with hindsight do I get an opaque inkling of how things were actually meant to be. Kierkegaard aptly observed that life can only be understood backwards although it must be lived forwards. There are times, however, when the veil remains drawn and the loud silence and intense darkness become nerve-wracking. Only Jesus makes sense then.

Jesus came not to do our will. He came as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of this world (John 1:29). He is the Great Physician of every physical and spiritual malady as demonstrated by the accounts of His life in the gospels. He is the Light that shines into the dark and diseased areas of our lives to drive out the dark pathogens that plague our souls. He intercepts the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of disease in the body, soul and spirit. He morphs us, nay recreates us into new creatures (1 Cor. 5:17).

Cleopas and his colleague’s failure to recognize the risen Lord walking beside them is a reflection of their spiritual blindness and lack of comprehension about what the Scriptures taught regarding the role of the Messiah. The so-called sad story Cleopas shares with Jesus is, in actual fact, the grandest and most glorious story of all history. It is a story about the manifestation of the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). Indeed, it is the eternal life-line of the entire universe. Because of this story, I dare believe that my sad stories are also glorious when viewed from God’s merciful perspective. As C.S. Lewis once remarked, God gives us back with His right hand what He takes with His left hand. Jesus sensed a deeper need in His two disciples. Ever the caring Savior, He came to revive their flickering faith, which was nearly snuffed out at Golgotha.

Those Infuriating Fiends

We are all familiar with those unnerving monsters that lurk maliciously under the surface of our lives; the ogres that take the form of an assortment of propensities and proclivities to unsavory behavioral tendencies such as lust, gossip, wrath, doubt, jealous, slander etc…Most of us try to push these fiends down into the dark depths of our lives, away from the public eye because we are scared someone might catch a glimpse of them although they can be elusive and defiant. What is most chilling is that they have a tendency to surface unexpectedly, at the most inopportune moments. They wait until we are most vulnerable to shoot out of the depths of our souls, glaring at us, underscoring our flawed-ness. For the believer, this can be most distressing because these character defects tend to mock our efforts to live as people in “good and regular standing.” Shouldn’t we be thinking about things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report (Phil. 4:8)? From whence then come these unholy thoughts, which threaten to rob us of the joy of our salvation, particularly if we give in to the temptation of identifying with them and start labeling ourselves by their names. Sometimes, we wrongly believe that their persistence in our lives turns off God’s love for us. Sadly, this can propel us into the futile mode of striving to conquer them by our own efforts so that we can overcome them and please God. Our ensuing constant failure to do so can degenerate into religious neurosis and depression, not to mention disillusionment and frustration about our faith. The struggle to do what is right and to avoid doing what is wrong is an uphill overwhelming one (Romans 7). Sin seems weirdly appealing even when we know that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Consequently, eerily, we often find ourselves caught in the delusion of optimistic bias, which always leads to spiritual bankruptcy.

No effort at self-cleansing can rid us of the stain of sin. As a matter of fact, such an effort can only end up in a fruitless religious existence which Jesus condemned and likened to white-washed tombs full of dead peoples’ bones (Matthew 23:27). On our own we are no match for our inherent inclination to do evil. We need divine help. True, God can never condone sin and we must never expect Him to overlook it. But He does something that human beings have repeatedly failed to do: He loves the sinner and hates the sin. Just because we are being harassed by unrelenting monstrous thoughts and inclinations embedded in the depths of our lives does not make us monstrous. That is why God, in His love for us, has provided a panacea for our spiritual malady in the Person of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus has the weapons, authority, and power to overcome these menacing leviathans skulking under the surface of our lives. God alone leads us in triumph, in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:14). To Him be glory forever and ever.