From Death to Life
John 5:24 Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
If you have never known the misery and destruction of following self, then today’s entry may not be for you. If you do not have any destructive defects, then you will not need Jesus’ words or today’s blog. Today’s passage is for those of us who have come to know the despair of following ourselves. We know our defects all too well and we have become sick of self.
It is not that I am all bad. I know that I have done good in this life. This is not about weighing my good and bad on a balance. In the misery of my own destruction, it did not matter how much good I had done, I was still miserable. This is not about self-esteem. This is about the direction of my life. Am I following self to misery and death or am I following God to life and joy?
Life is what Jesus offers. We may continue to follow self, reaping the inevitable consequences, or we may believe in God thus, passing from death to life. If we abandon our own destruction we may enter the blessed life, joy and peace in which we were created to live.
Make no mistake, we were not made for slavery and destruction. We were made to know life and freedom. Why then, do so many of us continue to be enslaved to our own appetites for food, drugs, drink, lust, pride, greed and status? Why do we choose slavery over freedom?
I asked this last night to a group of recovering addicts. Their answers were painfully honest. We follow self because we are lazy and self-focused. We take the path of least resistance to immediate gratification, unwilling to abandon the pleasures of self. We may want God eventually but we want self now. We are trapped by the pursuit of our own flesh.
How then do we break free? Jesus said whoever believes in God will pass from death to life. Too often, I have understood this belief to be just an intellectual acknowledgment of God. Belief or faith however, is not just a knowledge of a thing. Believing in God means focusing my eyes on him and then making my feet follow. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). Belief is a behavior, not just a mental exercise.
Just as passing from death to life is a profound transition, belief is a profound act which will likely require radical change. If I am enslaved to the destruction of alcohol, food, pride, status, money or pornography, I may have to choose a very different life to know freedom. I may have to go to treatment, change jobs or change friends. Radical change is radical.
If I think that I can choose faith without abandoning self, I will discover that if I change nothing, nothing will change. It is not that God leaves me alone to fix myself. He offers the only adequate substitute for pursuing self. He offers life, joy and peace. If I want life instead of death, I must be willing to believe and 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.