Sunday, April 06, 2014

Why Are Good People Tempted to Do Wrong? [4]

Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8.1-11
Ezekiel offers a different metaphor for the situation we find ourselves in. People who think they are better than they really are resemble dry bones piled on a battlefield. That’s how things will end up for us unless something changes radically!

The nation of Israel thought they were good but on the day when they encountered a determined and ruthless foe they discovered how hollow their self belief had been. Their army was overrun at the Battle Of Megiddo and their king, Josiah - who had a reputation for being a jolly good king, was shot full of arrows. And each one of us risks the same sort of fate when we come up against the moral dilemmas of daily life. When it comes to the crunch, our goodness can turn out to be skin deep and in no time at all we can end up morally shredded, as worthless as dry bones. But all is not lost. The Psalmist is mistaken. God’s patience is never exhausted. Our hope is never lost and we are never completely cut off from his loving kindness. God can make even dry bones live again and he says, ‘I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.’ Putting this in Christian terms, no matter how many battles we may have lost with the sinful side of our human nature, we can still be justified by faith in Jesus' death for us upon the Cross, and God's love can still be poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Like Ezekiel, Paul also seeks to reassure us that even good people gone wrong are not condemned if we put our faith in Jesus. For the Spirit of life promised to us by Jesus sets us free from the cognitive dissonance with which we struggle. We are not dependent on what human nature can do any more. We can depend on the Holy Spirit, which offers us new life and peace in him.

Paul observes that people like us who want to do good find that we simply can’t please God all of the time. Our minds constantly revert to the hundred-and-one temptations which quickly overcome good people and subvert our best intentions. But the God who raised Jesus to new life after he died for us can offer a kind kind of life to us too, if we only allow the Spirit of Jesus to dwell within us.

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