Mark 7:21,22 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
I said a bad word the other day. This would not be worth writing about, but I did not just say it, I yelled it… in front of a gym full of people… including my wife. It may not have been that big of deal but it was uncharacteristic for me. It is not that the word itself was inherently so bad, it just surprised me that it shot out so easily. When I got to thinking about it though, I realized that I say that word in my mind or under my breath, not infrequently.
Again, it is not that the word itself was so bad (though my wife was unimpressed). It just got me thinking about what else is inside of me. I wish that word was the worst thing lurking in my mind. I have many times wondered what it would be like if my secret thoughts were displayed on a magic sign above my head for all the world to see. How horrible would that be?
Anyone who thinks they have no evil in them, needs to look no further than his or her own thoughts. Jesus said as much. He said that our hearts and minds, under the influence of our flesh nature, are corrupt. Though it may never express itself in external action, we all harbor anger, covetousness, lust, slander, pride and deceit. I do not think that Jesus was trying to injure our self-esteem. He just wanted us to understand our condition and need.
Some will say that I am too hard on myself and too obsessed with our defects in general. We are just human after all. I think this was Jesus point. It is our human nature that is, by definition, broken. To be human is to have a defective flesh nature.
But I’m not that bad! This is the battle cry of those blinded by their own pride. They might as well say, I don’t need God! Jesus insisted that we all need something greater to get us out of ourselves. This is the essence of faith, to turn our focus from self towards God. It is in our focus on self that we are distracted from God and thus sow our own destruction. Again, even if this is never expressed externally, it is destructive enough if it keeps me from intimacy with God.
It is a profound lie to believe: I am fine on my own. I only swear occasionally. I am just not that bad, so I don’t need to get crazy, abandoning self and pursuing God. Jesus said that if I am to be his disciple, I must deny self and follow him. If I do not see the need to deny self, I will not follow him.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.