Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. Then the people complained against Moses, saying, 'What shall we drink?' So he cried out to the LORD and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet... Exodus 15: 23-25
When I was younger, I didn't realize that the cross Jesus died on was not just the centerpiece of our faith, it was everything to our faith. For He told us that when He died, we died, when He was buried, we were buried, and when He rose, we rose with Him. (See Romans 6: 1-14)
But I didn't know that, to my shame. And so I tried and tried to do what was good and found myself in the same situation as the Apostle Paul in Romans 7, finally culminating in my exclamation "What a wretched person I am!"
It was such bad news, for me to say that I really was a wretched person. For in my ignorance I didn't believe that God did not hold those things against me, they were already paid in full by His Son. (John 19:30) He doesn't expect anything from me, but to look away from myself and constantly to Him. The Israelites found that the tree Moses plunged into the bitter water made it sweet. In every situation, I see a "tree" submerged into the awful situations of my life and making it sweet.
This tree shows me my ticket to freedom, my finished work rest. I am free from trying all manner of self-help programs, for my "self" cannot be helped. The last time I was at the bookstore, I looked at some of the self-help books and finally realized that I don't have to "listen" to all these experts. All my answers are found in one Book, the Bible.
Let's see it the way God does about efforts of self reformation:
Who really wants to admit to that about themself? On the other hand, I wonder how people looked at Christ when He was beaten to a pulp. He became sin for us. (II Corinthians 5:21) Men turned away their faces."Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints.From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment." Isaiah 1:5-6
"He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." Isaiah 53:3It was our own wretchedness that made Him despised. It was the awfulness of our helpless condition that we inherited from Great Granddaddy Adam. It's OK for us to realize that about our natural selves. Why?
God provided a perfect solution for that wretched person. It is new life He gives us in Christ. A talented woman from my church, Mrs. Vicky Andreis, wrote and recorded a beautiful song called "The New Life He Gave Me." The next line after that chorus is "the very life of the Savior." His life is our life, instead of any efforts we make on our own.
The solution is to learn through the Word how to let Christ live in us instead of us. I studied in Romans 7 where Paul talked about the Law being holy, righteous and good. But God's Law cannot help us. In the Dake Study Bible, on page 166 in the New Testament, Dake wrote this note on Romans 7:13:
"The Jew would ask, 'Do you mean to say that the law is holy, just, and good, and yet it is the cause of your death? The answer is, God forbid.' It was not the law that killed me, but sin that would not let me obey the law. That made sin appear what it really is-- a deeiver, a deadly enemy, and a killer."It is still an ongoing process of learning this day by day, but God is so patient. It's the key to my happiness. I don't have to rely on Megan anymore, but in the infinite, limitless Person of Christ who lives inside me.
If this encourages you as it did me, there is a free resource online that gives daily encouragement about this "exchanged" life. It is called 'None but the Hungry Heart,' compiled by Miles Stanford. You can view the PDF form for free from this website: http://www.fbcva.org/filerequest/7883.pdf