I live with an old man. He sometimes says the most embarrassing things at the most inappropriate times. His timing is impeccable. The thing I hate most about him is that I usually just finished saying something profound, at least I think it's profound, and then he hollers some insipid epithet for no reason at all. Then I get the looks as if to say, "can't you control him?" I have tried to excuse him by saying, “It’s not ME!” Nevertheless, this is confusing. You see, the old man stands about my height. Weighs the same as I do. Moreover, when we stand side by side, it is very difficult to know who is Jim and who is the old man...because we're one in the same.
I shouldn't worry though what others may think, because I stand in good company when it comes to this situation. The apostle Paul struggled with his old man all the time. (Romans 7:15 –20) "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but sin that is living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do --- this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."
It's easy to blame our behaviors on our sinful nature. But that's no excuse, because we are still responsible for our actions here in this life as well as before the throne of God. Even though I want to do good by putting on my best for you, I inevitably end up shooting my mouth off or doing some deed that only satisfies my needs, all the while hurting those close to me in the process.
No matter what you or I do, even if we are doing our very best and presenting a kind and friendly face that the world sees, it’s our hearts matter the most to God. For on our heart lay deceitful, slanderous, vile thoughts that we think we can hide in the river of De Nial.
Max Lucado tells a story of two brothers that paints a good picture of what our old sinful nature does. He tells of two brothers who were destined for the throne of their father's kingdom. Both brothers were excellent animal trainers. A contest was planned: The brother who could train an animal the best would win the kingdom.
The youngest brother trained a cat to be a butler. The cat did all the butler chores. The cat announced the guests at the door, showed them in, and seated them. The brother even built a harness for the cat so that it could bring in a cart full of appetizers and finger sandwiches. Yes, the youngest brother sure did a fine job in training the cat to be a butler. The kingdom was surely his. The oldest brother, sensing defeat, ran and got something that would dash his brother’s sure victory -- He got a mouse and let it loose in front of the cat. Guests were clawed up, finger food was all over the palace, and the dining room was in shambles. Try as the brother might by dressing kitty up in butler clothes and training him to do butler duties, once a mouse showed up, the butler return to what he actually was; a cat.
We admire others who are in the same boat with us and try to follow their lead. We follow them footstep by footstep, all the while denying our true self. Inevitably, a small crack appears in our façade and like in the story above, we revert to who we really are – a fallen creation.
Nevertheless, there is hope.
It's been said that Jesus meets us where we are. This is true. He transforms our lives so we are not the same as we were yesterday. In addition, we will be more in the likeness of Him tomorrow than we are of Him today.
The apostle Paul said in the second letter to the Corinthians – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come.” (2Cor 5:17) and again, in the letter to the Colossians, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Col. 1:22)
When He called us to the position of holiness that we are supposed to be in, He didn’t say to bring extra luggage along in case we want to go shopping for souvenirs. I will admit it is hard to sometimes forget the regrets that follow us in our excessive baggage, but if we really get down to the core of the issue, most of that is just there for comfort. We must remember what our Lord said to those who follow Him – “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Mat. 11: 29-30)
So how do we get rid of the old self? Personally, I think we will continue to struggle with it till our Lord comes back for us. Nonetheless, there is a way to deal with it every time it rears its ugly self. The answer is found in 1 John. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
I am constantly wrestling with my old man. There are some days when he just runs amok, and then there are days that are glory filled because I am able to spend a lot of time on my knees. I hope in the days to come I will let the good work started in me come to fruition without the old man adding his will. Pray for strength, brothers and sisters.