We humans are easily tempted. We are tempted by everything that surrounds us. This picture is a great representation for that. If I were selling wine, this would be an excellent picture. It has many aesthetically pleasing elements that one could find within this simple photograph. In looking at an image all our senses can be stimulated and depending on where your temptations lie a different aspect of this picture will have a different appeal. Ultimately, our nature is tempted to things that are contrary to the will of God. Paul struggled with this in his ministry and he speaks of it often in his writing most notably we can look at Romans 7:15,“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (ESV) He further goes on to speak of how sin binds our flesh, however we are freed through Christ. Now he does not excuse sin with this understanding, but it highlights the need for Christ. On our own the battle is hopeless, but in Christ…there is hope.
I have had many a discussion with Christians about the bondage of our will, being a Lutheran and in agreement with Luther’s Christian understanding, particularly when it comes to the Will, I enjoy the discussion. When I hear the term “free will,” I laugh inside because I have found that left to my own choices I would be without hope and finding myself the fool. I have felt the transforming work of God in my life and continue to be amazed as his hand continues to shape and transform me. Personally, I know that there is a lot more work to be done on me by God. This is not meant to be spoken as self-abasement or false-humility, just a reality that I will not be right until the good Lord takes me from this mortal coil. My hope is that my witness points to Christ and that others come to know Him through my positive witness and in spite of my shortcomings (I do hope that the latter is greater!).
The reality is that in our lives there is a great chasm. A divide in us that we are unable to traverse by our own power. This divide is what we are and what God reveals that He desires for us to be. No matter how much we strive to cross this divide we will fail on our own. Christ, however, guides us in our lives so that we do not fall in and eventually we will be carried over at the end.
This divide is dangerous because the reality of our fallenness is kept to the forefront of our hearts. The hopelessness of relying upon the concept of “free will” and choosing God is part of the churning waters that much of the world struggles against. When the struggles of life overcome it leads to despair and hopelessness and often masks the love that our Lord has for all of His creation. I see the struggles of this world overwhelm many as the temptations of this world have become too much. Some have taken a permanent solution to a temporary reality in the taking of their own lives, while others have closed the door of faith in Christ and turned to faith in self. Christ desires for you to know Him, but, ultimately, to understand that you are known by Him. In this realization, there is no loneliness or hopelessness but the eternal promises stand firm in Him. May Christ’s peace fill your heart and your mind in faith to eternal life. Amen.