Understanding Identity. Day thirteen...
“Did I do that?” You may remember this infamous question asked by Steve Urkel, right after he'd caused some sort of destruction on the set of the nineties sitcom “Family Matters.” Something other than common sense appeared to be directing Urkel's decisions.
His trademark question certainly caused a laugh… because he was funny… but even more so because Urkel was a caricature of our own bonehead stunts.
It's one thing to have our foolishness behind us; we can laugh about it now. But when we're still dealing with the consequences of our bonehead behavior, it's no laughing matter.
Rather than just hope to have a good day (and then wonder why so many of them just go south on us), why don't we figure out how to intentionally have a good day? If this is a totally foreign sounding idea, let me assure you that it's possible. It is possible to control the direction a day takes.
So why do we act the way we act?
It's all a matter of who's in charge. I'm not talking about what outside forces are in charge, such as an overbearing boss, a difficult spouse/ex‐spouse, an unruly child, or a stagnant economy. I'm talking about in our personal space—that area between the top of our head and the bottom of our feet. Who is in charge of our person?
We talked about our triune nature yesterday. Take a look at an illustration I use when explaining body, soul, and spirit (see also 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
This guy represents us before we were born‐again. Note that he is living, not with his spirit and not with his head (soul), but with his body in the position of leadership. His spirit is consequently crushed under the weight of his body and soul.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1–3 ESV)
Note that the Bible doesn't distinguish between “good” unsaved people and “bad” unsaved people.
And this one point simply infuriates humanity. The idea that the sweet old lady, who doesn't know Jesus but is first in line to help the poor, is no better than the punk kid with the “screw you God” tattoo, who steals old ladies' purses at every opportunity, just sends us into a self‐righteous rage.
In our eyes she is the good person and he is the bad. But while we measure different levels of righteousness through our human eyes, God sees all of mankind as unrighteous except who He sees through Jesus (see also Romans 3:10).
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
Such was our condition before Jesus. No matter how perfectly or imperfectly we lived our lives, we looked like this guy.
Notice the grayed out area that the body and the soul share. This is the baser side of our mind, our will, and our emotions. This is the part of our soul that rots with our body in the grave. It's what we share with animals. Just as the entire body and soul of an animal decay upon death. Our physical body and this part of our soul entirely decay upon death.
Have you ever accused anyone of living like an animal? Have you ever lived like an animal? When our body and the baser side of our soul is in charge, then we live like animals… it's just what we do!
For me, it's a sobering thought to realize that, without Jesus in the way, God sees each of us like this upside down dude—ruled by our body and the baser part of our soul. That's who we were before Jesus—continually making selfish demands. But that's not how it has to be.
Have a good weekend,