I have a confession to make: I am messed up. Hang on a second though. Don’t judge me because you’re messed up too. We’ve all sinned and none of us are what we should be. In a sense, though, that’s not the problem. Yes, it is a problem. But it’s a problem that can be solved.
The Problem Is Me
God is a God of restoration. If we turn and surrender to him, he can take us and make us right. So, the problem isn’t so much the problem. The real problem is usually the solution to the problem. What solution do I look to for the problems that plague me?
I tend to try and fix most problems myself. Why is that the wrong solution? Because me is the problem. Me is what got me into this trouble in the first place. I’m guessing you have a me that’s a lot like me. Is me really going to convince me to stop?
- Me is the one who loves to eat entire trays of Oreos.
- Me is the one who feels important and in the know when I gossip about others.
- Me is the one who tries to escape from working on my marriage by reading romance novels or connecting with old friends or strangers online.
The Solution Is Not Me
The solutions we come up with for our problems tend to be of the self-help variety. The “self” part is the issue. Self is what got me in trouble in the first place. Self is the one who’s been doing what I’ve been doing, and so when I try a self-help solution, I just end up in a war with myself.
So, you relying on you – on you being smarter or more disciplined – to get yourself from where you are to where you need to be isn’t going to work because you’re the one who got yourself where you are. When you’re in charge, where you are is where you end up.
I’m not trying to be rude; I’m just trying to be real. I’m also not judging you. I can’t because I’m just like you. When I look at my problems, I want to point fingers and blame others and play the victim card, but the truth is I got myself here. If I’m honest, I can’t get myself out.
I Do What I Don’t Want To Do
It’s not just you and me; it’s all of us. The apostle Paul is probably the preeminent example of an all-in, disciplined, radical follower of Jesus. Listen to how he describes his life:
I don’t understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is a sin living in me that does it.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is right, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not the one doing wrong; it is a sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This capability makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:15-24)
Permit me to paraphrase that for us: I don’t understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.
You’re Just Like Your Mother
I tell myself not to yell at my kids, then I hear someone yelling at my kids, and I realize it’s me. There’s something wrong inside of me that leads me to do what I don’t want to do.
I tell myself, “Whatever happens, I will not deviate from my diet. I promise I will not make any exceptions!” Then I find a piece of pizza in my mouth. What a miserable person I am. I am a slave to pizza! As I try to understand this power that makes me a slave to sin I suddenly have a realization – I am now eating brownies! I am a slave to pizza and brownies.
I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do right, there’s always something wrong for me to look at on the Internet. I don’t want to look, but there’s something in me that does it anyway.
When I am about to tell my wife that she’s just like her mother, I know what I am about to do is wrong. That’s why I decided not to mention my wife that she’s just like her mother. Then I find my mouth opening and words coming out. I hear words that sound like, “You are just like your mother.”
Can God Restore Me?
It is a sin living in me that does that. Who will free me from this life dominated by the dumb things me keeps doing? One thing me knows for sure; it’s not going to be me!
Who will free me? Not me.
Who will restore you? Not you.
It’s a problem. We have a problem. We’re messed up. But it’s a problem that can be solved. God is a God of restoration. If we turn to him, he can take us and make us right.
Some of this article is excerpted from Vince’s new book, “Restore: Break Out Of Your Past and Into God’s Future.” Check out the book to learn more about how God can restore you.
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