By Ron Thomas
No one who has ever lived is better known than Jesus, the man from Nazareth, also called God’s Son. God’s Son? Does God have a son? This is the message of Jesus, God’s Son who came to this earth to teach and save people from their sins. In Luke 19:10, the Scripture reads, For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost (ASV).
The word “sin” is a word that many people have heard much about, but many of those same people really don’t the meaning of that word, though they do have some idea. The word “sin” comes from a Greek word (hamartia) that means to “miss the mark.” In other words, man has a bulls eye in front of him (so to speak); he aims at a target of doing that which is right. Doing that which is right is associated with morality, a way of thinking that corresponds to what he/she thinks is right and wrong. It is a moral compass given to him by God. Since the time of creation man has aimed at doing that which is right. God has given man the freedom to chose, and since that time he has done so. But in the choices he made man has gone his own way, trying to establish his own wisdom as the moral compass by which he is led. This way of thinking he has put in place has encouraged him to think he can choose his own preferred way without regard to the way the Lord desires man to choose. In this choice made, he hopes God will accept his chosen path. This is similar to the way of (mistaken) thinking, “There are many paths to God, my son. I hope yours is not too difficult.”
This way of thinking has been humanity’s disastrous path upon which he is currently walking. The Lord said, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). When people choose to go their own way, the way of God becomes blocked in his line of sight. The choices of man have blocked the purity of God’s path, and his desire to walk God’s path becomes corrupt, diluted and overgrown with weeds. He simply cannot find his way back to God apart from God. Thus, Jesus came to point for man “the bright and shining way.” From the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, we read, Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
How can Jesus help me with my struggle since He never struggled with the same things I do? A long time ago, Solomon, the king over the nation Israel, appealed to the Lord God for the struggle that each person has. He said this, what prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, who shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house (1 Kings 8:38, ASV). Note the word “plague,” a word that is a strong enough to convey a great deal of heartache and struggle. The people long ago are not at all different than people today. One can easily say the only difference would be in relation to advancements in technology. They struggled with similar problems.
Is your struggle alcohol? Is your struggle sex? Is your struggle related to drugs? Is your struggle personal relationship? Is your struggle getting and keeping a job? Is your struggle a sharp tongue? It may be that I can’t relate precisely with what you struggle, but neither can you relate precisely with what I struggle. Nevertheless, there is a similarity in that we both struggle, just as there was in the days of Solomon.
Each one of those struggles are in relation to behavior. It is the mind’s desire to succumb to this or that. The Lord teaches a new way of thinking, a way of thinking that is a retraining of the mind. Does the mind control, or is the mind controlled? Notice what Paul said in his letter to the church in Philippi, Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14).
Who controlled Paul’s mind at the time when he wrote those words? It was Paul who controlled his own mind, but he willingly allowed the Lord Jesus to be of such great influence that he could easily say (and he did), I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20).This is the message of the Lord Jesus, a message He wants each of us to embrace.
- Ron Thomas preaches for the Church of Christ at Rio Grande in Bidwell, OH. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org