What Am I Like? – A Helpless Addict

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The subject we will now investigate, after “What Is God Like?”, is “What Am I Like?” This is the second course of the four that make up the curriculum of our seminary, Theology for Dummies. Those who are still enrolled after last week’s class on “Evangelical Universalism” may bail out this week, particularly if they subscribe to the old saying “I’m OK, you’re OK.” If that is you, get ready to have your presuppositions shaken. It will be too much for some!

One of the ways Satan tricks us is with familiarity. That “we are sinners” is such a familiar idea to believers that we read Scripture passages like the following one in Romans 3 and unconsciously mumble to ourselves, “Yeah, yeah,…” and move on. The idea flies right over our heads without leaving any indication that it was even slightly understood. Have you ever really thought about what this passage in Romans means?:

“The Scriptures tell us, ‘No one is acceptable to God! Not one of them understands or even searches for God. They have all turned away and are worthless. There isn’t one person who does right (vs.10-12).

“‘Their words are like an open pit, and their tongues are good only for telling lies. Each word is as deadly as the fangs of a snake, and they say nothing but bitter curses  (vs.13, 14).

“‘These people quickly become violent. Wherever they go, they leave ruin and destruction. They don’t know how to live in peace.  They don’t even fear God’” (vs.15-18). 

For decades I read these verses and they “sank without a trace!” It was not until I was in my 60’s that the Lord began to open my eyes to an unpleasant reality—my carefully guarded external righteousness was pointless: 

“For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7), and “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9) 

Suddenly the world of my mind was laid bare as the Lord began to open my eyes to who I am and what I am like in my heart, as described in the above verses.  As I began to actually apply those words to myself, I discovered a critical, arrogant, know-it-all, who is always right, and who just happens to have been secretly addicted to pornography for almost 50 years!

I can no longer deny the Truth. I am learning to say with Paul, “I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong” Romans 7:18, 19). 

This is a perfect description of what theologians call “Total Depravity.” and this condition fully captured the human race at the Fall in the Garden of Eden. There we ALL, in direct disobedience to God’s command, ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Adam.

In doing so, Adam and Eve chose independence from God as a way of life, rather than simple dependence on Him, like little children, for everything, including deciding what they should do and what they should not do.

We all come out of the womb as sons and daughters of Adam with this same mindset—deciding good and evil for ourselves, or, “living by our obedience to the law.” This way of thinking is permanently baked-in. We look at every situation as, “Is it good or is it evil,” “should I or shouldn’t I?” I am always trying to make “good choices,” according to my own standard of right and wrong, whether that be the Bible, the law of my gang, or my own personal, self-imposed standard of conduct of my own choosing. 

Our addiction is so strong that we see nothing wrong with living this way—by our “obedience to the law,” unaware that we are consistent failures in doing so, in our hearts. Church leadership even teaches us that obedience to God’s law, as revealed in the Bible, Is our highest calling in life, even though we fail consistently at doing so. 

As a result, we have learned to ignore, altogether, what God originally put in our hearts at creation—not independently doing what we decide for ourselves what is “good” and not “evil,” but just doing what our Creator tells us like little children!.

Originally that communication was external and verbal in the Garden. For believers today who are “on the wagon” in respect to their addiction, that communication is internal and spiritual. Next week we will discover how God leading us occurs, as we move on in our “Theology for Dummies” curriculum. 

After facing “What I am Like,” and the hopelessness of doing anything about it, the next class will teach us how our ADDICTION TO OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW IS BROKEN, and how we now communicate with our Heavenly Father, just as did our perfect human model, Jesus Christ. I can’t wait!

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  1. Duane Hodges says:

    There are fleeting moments when I become a dependent child relying on God’s love knowing that He orders all things after the counsel of His will. The peace resulting from that is truly extraordinary. The day that I plan, the life that I design, the hope for my family may not play out as I wish, but I can look back and say “Yeah, that didn’t go like I was hoping, but it was perfect, because it was designed by my Father…who loves me.”
    Thanks Robert,
    Dummy Duane 🙂

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