“In the light, truth is revealed.” – Pastor Dave Simiele, MCC’s youth pastor
The recent youth retreat featured a theme of light and darkness called, “Illuminate.” Pastor Dave gave a memorable teaching that included a number of noteworthy principles.
- People tend to sin in darkness because we think nobody will see us. We think it is safe to sin in the dark.
- You can’t change your life in darkness. You have to come into the light.
- Light can be offensive because it illuminates things we don’t want to see.
- When God calls you out of darkness, that doesn’t mean He has called you to a place where there is no trial.
- God is the only one who can really change me. I have to submit to the power of the Holy Spirit working in me.
Sometimes we feel like we are the only person dealing with a particular struggle. We can feel like everyone else has it all together. But the reality is that no temptation overtakes us except that which is common to mankind. We are in essence all in the same boat. No person is righteous on his/her own.
Even the great heroes of the Bible, have moments they wish we would forget about. The Apostle Paul was certainly a star on God’s All Star team. If it had not been for Paul, the Christian Gospel may have never been carried to the Gentile world. Paul suffered many physical afflictions and personal challenges to spread the Gospel. He did many wonderful miracles in Jesus’ name. But he still struggled with temptation and sin.
Paul was a man just like the rest of us. We can see a glimpse of this in this modern paraphrase of a classic Scripture text from Romans.
Romans 7:17-25 (Message)
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
While driving home from a recent retreat, I listened to a sermon by Paris Reidhead about the human condition and sin’s effect on us all. Paris is one of my favorite preachers. He said a few tough things.
Here is my favorite comment from his sermon.
“Jesus didn’t die to help me do what I ought. He died to do what I am powerless to do because he is everything that I am not.” – Paris Reidhead, old revival preacher
The basic point is that if all we need is a little help than we are mostly good and don’t really need a Savior. Jesus came to do more than give us a boost. He came to offer us His life that we can live in Him. Consider this Scripture.
Galatians 2:20 (New International Version) – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
We need more than a helping hand. We need to be transformed and made into a new creation. We need to be born again. And Jesus is the One who can do what we are powerless to do. That is freedom. And that is life.