The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
March 4, 2017
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, RSV).
There’s a saying out there, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I have written 9,562,373 times about the cactus patches which God sends to grow us. OK. OK, I exaggerated a bit, but still, it has been a consistent theme in my writings throughout the years. My very good friend Marge sent me the graphic above of the laptop computer with a cactus on the screen, and I knew there is a writing in here somewhere. Hang on and we’ll discover it together.
After sharing in my last writing about the disaster of losing all the files on my computer, I thought I was home free and had recovered nearly all of them. The rude surprise awaiting me was that the file folders with the names and dates of my writings were there, but they were empty, no writings, graphics or anything else! In the process of copying the ones still on my old computer, I realized that the process by which I store the files in folders by dragging and dropping them in the appropriate folders was not working. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t move the files on my desktop. That’s intolerable because soon there would be no room to see anything there due to all the files which could no longer be moved.
In desperation I called Apple (I work on a MacBook Pro), and in the process of getting the problem fixed, the tech advisor had me run a diagnostic on my computer and lo, it turned out that the problem was“corrupted files.” Not good. He then directed me to run “Disc First Aid,” and it retrieved items from the “Lost and Found” section that seemingly fixed the problem. Who knew all these things were lurking on my hard drive? It is working better now, though still not perfectly.
I’ve called Apple so many times about the seemingly endless problems that I decided not to call them about these little glitches, but rather chose to write what was coming to me since the title “Corrupted Files” popped into my mind last night as I was falling asleep. How that happened was that I was experiencing more joint pain in my back and knees than usual and prayed that God would repair those corrupted files in my body. I speak to my body often and ask God to empower the words by the same spirit which raised Christ from the dead. So far, so good.
Obviously, Jeremiah knew about corruption in the human heart very well, having seen it consistently in the hearts and minds of the Israelite people to whom he was sent with God’s word to them. Those words often fell on deaf ears, or as Jesus put it, “rocky ground,” about which He said, “Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away” (Matthew 13:5-6, RSV). How many sermons have we endured which exhorted us to try be better, more fertile soil? As Dr. Phil would ask, “How’s that working for you?”
The fact remains that we all have corrupted files, not just in our bodies but in our minds and hearts. We may harbor hateful thoughts and resentment toward those who have wounded us; we often cannot forgive those who have treated us badly. Because there is NOTHING we can do about the kind of soil we are, we sometimes wear masks so that others, especially our Christian friends, will not know how far from the mark of the high calling of God we really are.
I’m going to be 76 in a month and I can testify and have often done so, that there’s nothing at all I can do to improve myself. That used to cause me intense grief and pain as I realized that the prize of being a “good Christian” would never be mine.
My dear friend Harry Fox, who is now with the One He served all of his 95 years, always said that people who live by law (one should, must, ought do this or that), only can survive the guilt of their failures when they water down the law to its lowest common denominator. That usually falls in line with whatever rules and regulations their particular church has decreed will “seal the deal.” That’s a temporary fix that does not resolve the deeply corrupted heart and mind and the accompanying guilt thereof, which is the innate nature of all humans. After all, the Psalmist declared, “They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no, not one” (Psalms 14:3, RSV). Paul repeated it in Romans 3:10, and concluded, that no one is justified by the law (Vs. 20). He expanded the thought with these words, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:21-25, RSV).
Harry Fox’s wife Jeri always said of him that no matter what the topic of discussion or sermon, he always ended up in Romans, which he believed was the perfect delineation of the Gospel which he loved so much and shared with so many during his time on earth. I have to agree with his conviction.
Of course, the Gospel of Christ, which was not available to the Old Testament Saints was often inferred in the Prophets’ writing. After excoriating Israel for their wicked ways, abominations, and moral turpitude, the Prophet Ezekiel told them that God would never depend on their actions coming from a heart of stone, but would Himself vindicate the holiness of His great name which they had profaned among the nations. God said to them through the prophet, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:23-28, RSV). It is only God within us who can keep His laws.
What a difference living by the Spirit rather than our own efforts makes! It is the only way we can escape the consequences of our formerly stony hearts and rebellious minds and receive the new heart God gives us by the Spirit. The Apostle Peter spelled it out: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:4, KJV). It is only by God’s grace that any of us will escape the consequences of our corrupted files, and know by the faith of Christ that those great and precious promises are ours, no doubt, no questions asked. By HIS faith, they are ours! Hallelujah.
Father, when You called us in Christ before the foundation of the world, You knew what troubles awaited us in this life, but You gave us a way of escape by Your grace through the faith of Christ in us. We give You honor and glory and blessings now and forever, and we join our voices with “the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan Austin Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
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