It is interesting how the message of the gospel often gets blended with messages about how to live better, how to be a better parent, how to be a better spouse, etc.. I am in no way attempting to criticize this approach. All throughout scripture, we see the writers teaching similar things. In fact, I have personally been helped by many of these types of messages. I do believe, however, that no matter what topic someone is speaking about, the solution is always the same.
In essence, every time a pastor or teacher addresses a specific topic, such as lust, addiction, or marriage problems, they are addressing an element of human brokenness. As human beings, we have a tendency to categorize brokenness. It makes us feel better about ourselves to categorize our own brokenness as slightly better than someone else’s, but at the end of the day that is not biblical truth. The truth is that we have ALL fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23). God doesn’t categorize our brokenness as acceptable and unacceptable, or “bad” and “really really bad.” So whether our brokenness leads us simply to spend too much time watching TV, or it leads us into something that seems more debilitating, like a severe drug addiction, the root cause and the solution are ultimately the exact same for both.
In Romans 3: 20, Paul tells us that the reason for the law was not to give us a guide for establishing our own righteousness, but to make us all conscious of our own sin. Essentially, through the law God painted us the picture of the way things “ought to be”, or the way he intended them to be. He also painted that exact same picture on our hearts. Romans 2: 15 says that the law is written on our hearts. We all know right from wrong. We all have some inherent inclination towards the way it “ought” to be.
The problem, of course, is that we all look around at our circumstances, or even look inwardly at our own impure desires, and we can see that the way it IS is simply not the way we know it OUGHT to be. We can see with our physical eyes, and also sense with the eyes of our soul, that something is not right. Ultimately, each and every one of us has a natural tendency to gravitate away from the things of God and towards the things of the world. That brokenness may manifest outwardly in different ways in different people, but the root cause of original sin is the same for all.
So what is the answer? The answer does not lie in us working harder to develop a stronger will power. The answer cannot be found in self help books or inspirational speeches. All of these things can be helpful in guiding us to the answer, but none of them are the antidote. The only true antidote is Jesus Christ. Just look at some of the statements Jesus made about who He was and what He came to do:
- “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” – Matthew 5: 17 NLT
- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” – Luke 4: 18-21
- The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10: 10 NLT
Jesus says very plainly that He did not come to do away with “the way it ought to be.” He says just the opposite. Jesus says that He came to restore us to the way it ought to be. He came to free us from the different types of bondgage that keep us from the way it ought to be, because God designed the way it ought to be to maximize our joy and fulfillment. Jesus is the bridge between the way it is and the way it ought to be. He is the bridge between a life of brokenness, fear, and eternal separation from our loving God to a life of wholeness, purpose, and everlasting life in relationship with Him. What does that bridge look like for you? What is that next area in which Jesus wants to guide you from brokenness to wholeness?
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. – John 1: 17