How do we get better?
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[a] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Rom 6:16-18)
This past week I've had two close friends of mine relate stories to me about the people that they work with. These people are really messed up, leading broken and dysfunctional lives. In each case, they came asking the question "How do we get better? How do you lead a life that isn't so full of drama and hurt?" Both times the answer to that question was "You can't".
In reality, we are all really screwed up. No matter how good of a family you were raised in, no matter how great an example and teaching has been set for you, you're still deeply, fundamentally flawed as a person. Nothing that you can do in your own power can change that. Sure, we can try and implement certain strategies to make things better, but it's still like slapping a band-aid on a gaping wound. It may help a little but it's not fixing the underlying problem.
For all of the flak and disdain that Christianity gets in popular culture, it actually is the only thing that explains this condition. We are born into sin and our nature is sinful. All sin does is hurt us and those around us. It makes a complete mess of anything that it touches. We can't change our nature. No matter how hard we try, it always comes back around to bite us.
However, there is still hope. While we can't get ourselves past our sin nature, God in His great grace made a way. He sent Jesus. Jesus came and became a perfect sacrifice to pay for all of that sin. When you accept Jesus you are fundamentally changed and covered by the grace of God. The power of God comes on you to change your nature from the inside out, so that you are no longer trapped in that sin nature. You no longer have to live a messy broken life.
Sound too good to be true? It's not. God is just that good. That doesn't mean it's always easy, though.
If you come to Jesus, your nature has been changed, but you still get to choose how you live and act. You get to choose whether you continue in sin or not. If every habit that you have and your regular actions have been informed by a sinful nature your entire life, it's tough to break out of those habits and start thinking like you're a person free from sin and living in the grace of God. It's almost as if you've been in prison your entire life and have no idea how to live in the real world with all of the freedom and responsibility that entails.
This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. When we come to Jesus, He doesn't leave us alone. He gives the Holy Spirit to us to come and live with us, inside us. The Holy Spirit is God as well, a person that you connect with, talk with, listen to, receive gifts from, and have affect your life in every conceivable way. The Holy Spirit leads you out of all of the paths and ways of sin that you've been living in and helps you to live free. He helps you to think correctly, believe in your proper identity, and live spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy and whole. The Holy Spirit is the one who guides you into peace, hope, and joy. He's the one who helps you to learn to live a dysfunction-free life.
So we're not able to save ourselves, but God is actively involved in saving us. We are utterly reliant on Him; first to change our nature from sin and second to teach us how to live lives that are whole. How do we get better? We come to the one who loves us and has made us. We come to the great God, full of grace, who died for our sin and helps us in every aspect of our lives.
If you have any questions about this or want to know more about Jesus, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org