A Voice in the
"....I'm worth it," purrs the sensuous model as she seductively slithers around, showing off the benefits of the beauty product.
A concerned person talks about how poorly a friend is handling life, wishing with all her being, "If he could only just 'feel good' about himself..."
People in general, discussing the ills of society, bemoan the fact that the cause for all the violence, crime and other bad things is that people don't have enough "self-esteem."
However, "No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it..." (Eph 5:29) Furthermore, in Scripture (including Ps 2) we are informed how man has lifted himself up against God. Man is following Lucifer who said "I will ascend into heaven...I will exalt my throne...I will be like the Most High." (Is 14:13-14) This is readily manifested in New Age. One of the primary doctrines of Satanism, daily indulged, is 'self-gratification.'
Jesus once told a story about a preacher and a child molester. (This is a paraphrase of His story in Luke 18, with characters He'd probably use if He were telling it today)
The preacher went to seminary, became a Dr.Divinity, grew a church that had thousands of members, eventually developed a TV ministry, and was living in the lap of luxury as everyone flocked to his meetings, watched his shows and sent in their money. Under the lights and cameras, his rings sparkle as he grips that microphone and moans and swoons his greatness and spirituality for all to see. He can get worked up to where the sweat and tears flow like Niagara Falls. He even performs magic as he slaps, tugs, pushes, blows on people who come to participate in his spotlight. And everyone is impressed!
While this 'show' is going on at the stadium, the child molester is sitting in his car at the edge of the woods. He is all dirty and bloody from the current victim he has just buried. In his heart he is not pleased with himself and what is in his heart, but he JUST CAN'T SEEM to help himself. As he is checking around to get rid of any further evidence, he spies the Gideon Bible that his victim grabbed back at the motel room in a futile attempt to defend herself. He picks it up and the pages fall open to Romans 5 and he reads "For when we were still without strength...Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." As those words sink in, the pages flutter over to where Jesus Himself is talking and saying "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Mk 2:17) As the truth jolts him like lightning, he realizes his "problem" is SIN. The man slumps to the ground, writhing in agony clutching at the grass and weeds growing nearby, his face wal- lowing in the dirt, crying out "God, be merciful to me, THE sinner."
Jesus said "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Lk 18:14)
To Humble oneself, one must place himself below anyone else in rank, quality or station. To be unpretentious....even willing to degrade himself. The word "humble" comes, ultimately, from the Latin "humus," (or ground). In more ancient cultures, the one humbling himself before someone of higher station, or with whom he was hoping to reconcile himself, would prostrate himself flat on the ground. Thus, the expression "Eat dirt."
The world says, "Look out for Number One." "And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Mic 6:8) The world says, "I'm worth it." "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;" (Is 64:6)
So, how do we repent? It starts out with an abhorrence of self...and abhorrence of sin. Regret, remorse, self-reproach, contrition for sin. Again, the Latin origins of the word include the meanings "Creeping along the ground; prostrate." When Job was presented with God's glory, even though God had presented Job before Satan as an "upright" person (according to his works), Job responds, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6) "Godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation." (2Cor 7:10)
The other aspect of repentance is the change. Changing directions, changing thoughts, changing behavior. Zacchaeus promised, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything...by false accusation, I restore fourfold." (Lk 19:8) Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham."
Zacchaeus thought his WORKS were going to save him. But Jesus indicates a GIFT. "By grace you have been saved...it is a gift of God." (Eph 2:8)
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2Cor 5:17) In this verse we see repentance. The change.
But WHAT is the change? A NEW CREATION. That creation is the fact of being IN CHRIST. Gal 6:15 further states "In Christ neither circumci- sion nor uncircumcision (law, works, good deeds) avails anything, but a NEW CREATION."
The man in our story above found in Romans 5:6 that "when we were without strength...Christ died for the ungodly." No ability of our own could save us. Jesus likens repentance to a new birth (Jn 3:3). When a baby is born, the baby has nothing to do with coming into this world. The mother alone nurtures the strength at the time of birth. In the same way the Psalmist expresses "He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness..."
Can we "slide" our way into Heaven...not really remembering the occasion? By definition, "NO." Can we philosophize or argue our way before God? "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 18:3)
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Not everyone who says to Me,' Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (~Mt 7:13-23)
But..."the Lord...will beautify the humble with salvation." (Ps 149:4)