By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop
WARNING!!! THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS MATURE BIBLICAL SUBJECT MATTER. ONLY THE MOST SERIOUS ABOUT THEIR FAITH SHOULD PROCEED.
11 (For the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Romans 9:11-16
Checkmate! Before we even realize the nature of the game of life, God has us whipped. We imagine life to be a simple game of checkers, but God has us all caught up in a match of three-dimensional chess. It’s not fair!! And, he closes in on us from three angles simultaneously — from the flanks, from beneath, and from above. From time, from space, and from matter all at once, God maneuvers. He is the absolute Grand Master at this game called “life” — which He alone is even capable of understanding. Consequently, we are in no way, shape, or form able to match wits nor power with God. Just when we think that we’ve got in all figured out, booyah!!! Then, we learn that God’s strategy is on a totally higher level.
In fact, when we begin to see things clearly, we come to understand that we mere mortals have lost the game of life, before we have even begun. Human Nature, the Human Condition, and the Human Predicament – man’s three (3) big handicaps. The foregoing passage from Romans nine (9) is at the heart of what that whole chapter teaches. This chapter is itself at the heart of what the whole New Testament and the entire Bible teaches. And in sum, this explains why we can never expect to be on a par with God. We could never be separate, independent, and apart from Him, and expect to survive. So, we can never take a pedestrian approach to our faith. We can never really hope to have any meaning, realize any hope, nor become anything of what me might aspire to, apart from Him.
Human Nature makes us all the same – messed up when we come into the world. From birth we sin, lie, and transgress. As a pastor once so quaintly put it, “We come into this world ‘toe up from the flo’ up!’” It’s a given. We just won’t do right. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), the Bible says. And, “There is not a just man on earth who doeth good and sinneth not” (Eccl 7:20), it further says. “Mama, I’m messed up!,” we must all confess, if we are honest. Absent the mercy of the Most High, we sin, and do wrong, and act contrary to God so easily and naturally, that we are completely HOPELESS.
The Human Condition renders us all totally impotent to do God’s will, in the first place. Even on a more level playing field, apart from our inveterate sinfulness, the will of God can really only be performed by God himself, as a necessary condition of his eternity, his holiness, and his oneness. (This is so thoroughly deep, I am not even going to try to address it further here). Aside from the grace of the LORD, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get the will of God done from here. We desire, we hope, we try, and we fail. That’s the chorus of life. Any other outcome is only actually God’s grace masquerading in our humanity. And, that’s the story of all flesh! Even our Lord Jesus confessed, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30). So, since Jesus said that, then we should not feel bad. But, even his confession seems little consolation to a heart that wants to please God, and cannot find a way. We find it so, as Paul explained, “The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that you CANNOT do the things that you would” (Gal 5:17). So, aside from the grace of the LORD, we find that we are utterly HELPLESS.
The Human Predicament explains that we all are subject to the purpose for which God alone has created us, and no matter how greatly we may struggle against it, we will end up becoming nothing more, nothing other, and nothing else but what God intended in the first place. There absolutely is a thing in place for the human race called fate, and no one escapes it. In cold, harsh reality, there is no such thing as “rise above,” where God’s purpose is concerned. Through many different conventions, the scripture teaches repeatedly that we all are what we are, we do what we do, and we get what we get, because God willed it so. In other words, from Romans 9, we learn that Jacob had to be Jacob, Esau had to be Esau, Moses had to be Moses, Pharaoh had to be Pharaoh, you have to be you, and I have to be me. And, favor ain’t fair. So, we are what we are, and we can be nothing else. So, outside of the purpose of the sovereign God, we are absolutely HAPLESS.
So, is this fatalism?? Are we just to throw up our hands in exasperation and resignation and say, “Then, I can’t serve God.” Absolutely not, brothers and sisters. Only by this, does God have us exactly where he wants us. This is exactly where fate is met with a thing called faith. Faith responds to the hopelessness of human nature, the helplessness of the human condition, and the haplessness of the human predicament, with the sincerest engagement of a sense of accountability, dependency, and trust in God. Faith says, “Yes, I’m just a sinful human being, but because of Jesus Christ, I do believe You love me, God.” And, with a right perspective then, true faith is born, lives, and thrives. God does love us, just the way that we are – the way He made us, spiritually naked. And, he will help us, give us hope along the way, and receive us into his everlasting arms, when we die.
This faith takes the despair out of our human situation, and leaves us deep and wholly engaged in the drama of life. In other words, because I believe in human nature, the human condition, and the human predicament, I begin every day with a true “come to Jesus” moment. I pray with a sincerity, urgency, and a fervency, knowing that without him, I have no hope, no help, and nothing positive happening for me. I wrestle and cry out before the dawning of the day, because I do believe that. In other words, rightly understanding our true utter dependency on God, only establishes a right and proper attitude and platform on which to approach Him. Being fully mindful of our own nothingness before Him, we may enter his presence with the acceptable attitudes of humility, lowliness of heart, contrition, and a meek, quiet, and penitent spirit. These constitute the more godly “spirit of mind” before the Lord — being infected with neither pride, vanity, nor high-mindedness. This understanding then becomes part of our very solid foundation for serving God. I have simply come to completely acknowledge before God, that without Him, I am nothing, know nothing, and can do nothing — except sin, transgress, be miserable, and die. After my daily prayer sessions end, I am filled with faith and confidence. This is the wonderful miracle of sincere faith. And so, the word says, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). Amen. The Lord GOD grant you abundance of the knowledge of his love, mercy, and peace, as you daily pray and seek to serve Him. Amen, again. Maranatha.