“Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!”


by Glen Doss, Major –

“If God is in control of my life, guess who isn’t in control and no longer gets to have things the way he pleases—me!”

I believe this fear is behind all resistance to surrendering to God. Though generally unconscious, it is a universal constant which impedes salvation and makes the journey of sanctification—being made holy—a very bumpy ride for many indeed.

For decades I have enjoyed the Billy Graham crusades on TV and was fortunate enough to attend a couple of them in person. As each crusade ended, it was reported that thousands had “made a decision for Christ.” I wondered how many of these actually followed through with their decisions. We all know it’s easy to “make a decision,” but another thing altogether to follow through with it.

But this particular decision every human being is called to make is very, very crucial, “for whoever desires to save his life will lose it,” taught Jesus (Matt 16:25 NKJV).

The natural inclination of all of us toward pride—the hunger to have things the way we want them—is reflected in the fifth Salvation Army doctrine: “…all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.” This powerful impulse of our sinful nature is so strong that a personal crisis is generally required before we will humble ourselves before God. But humble ourselves we must if we are ever to get right with our Creator and finally find the serenity we crave. You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3 NIV).

“We have been faithful, abjectly faithful to the god of Reason,” observes Alcoholics Anonymous (p. 54). In contrast wise King Solomon wrote: “Lean not on your own understanding” (Pro 3:5). Webster’s Dictionary describes an abject state as one of misery or wretchedness. Have you ever found yourself so bent on finding a solution to a particularly tough challenge that you wracked your brain over and over to the point of utter misery—before it finally occurred to you to take it to the Lord?

Abjectly faithful
It is true that we tend to be “abjectly faithful” to our natural reasoning. For haven’t most of us been taught it’s up to us to fix our own problems, as well as those of others we care about? “If I don’t do it, then who will?” shouts out our gut instinct. Isn’t that what many of us have been conditioned to do our whole lives? These old habits—deeply rooted in our sinful nature—go down hard.

Certainly God gave us intelligence for a purpose—to apply to our daily tasks: repair the car, prepare a meal and solve a math problem or the like. However, the Bible makes it clear that God never meant for us to depend on our reasoning. Straws are useful for making baskets, but we would be fools to attempt to use them as walking sticks—for surely we would fall. Nevertheless, we find ourselves leaning on our individual skills, aptitudes, talents and IQs again and again when only trusting in God will bring the solution.

Psalm 14:1 tells us: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” The truth is that we sometimes act the fool—go about our lives as de facto atheists; by this I mean we behave as if God had nothing at all to do with our daily lives. At such times we are, for all practical purposes, atheists: although we call him Lord, we fail to in all (our) ways acknowledge him (Proverbs 3:6).

I personally was “abjectly faithful to the god of Reason” during my 25 years as a professing atheist—especially the latter years when I finally reached bottom. It was only then, when I had run out of all other options, that I was willing to listen to the message of salvation. I was 39 years old.

But because this “depraved” tendency is so deep-seated, it continued to plague me for years after receiving Christ. Again and again I would find myself “leaning on my own understanding,” then suddenly get a flash: “Why not take it to Jesus?” After vainly wracking my brain for days, even weeks, over an issue, I would close the door to my office, get down on my knees, confess my failing and lay the issue before God. Always, without fail, he gave me the solution.

“What a wretched man I am!” cried Paul. “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ, our Lord!” (Rom 7:24-25 NIV).

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