Don’t you love it when the Holy Spirit uses the things that go on around you to teach you? He is sent to teach us all things and guide us into all truth. And you do not have to be in a church for Him to teach you. You don’t even have to be reading your Bible. Sometimes we miss the lessons that the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us in day-to-day life because we think He can only speak to us at certain times and under certain circumstances.
Well, the other morning I had one of those Holy Spirit teaching moments. I had just completed a run. While cooling down I came across two ladies with a dog. I looked up just in time to see the dog pick something off the ground and eat it. The owner got real upset. She hit the dog, saying: “No, don’t eat that!” She tried to pry open its mouth, but it was too late…
The lady lifted herself in defeat and commented to her friend: “I always try to stop him from eating things off the ground.” Then she added with a sigh: “But I guess that’s just the nature of a dog…” And with that the Holy Spirit commenced the day’s lesson.
Why did the dog eat that thing off the ground? Because it’s a dog. That’s what dogs do! It’s a dog’s nature to eat things off the ground. There is no point trying to stop it. You could modify your dog’s behaviour a bit by disciplining it. But it is still going to have a desire to eat things off the ground. If you prevent it from doing so through discipline, then you will just end up with a miserable dog.
Imagine a dog that craves to eat things off the ground but knows that he will get punished when he does. On the outside he may look like a well-groomed four-legged friend, but inside he is still just a dog. Imagine him watching other dogs sniffing around, eating whatever they find, and he has to stay put. That’s one miserable puppy!
He may become bitter or resentful towards his owner. Or alternatively, he may just sneak off and eat things off the ground when his owner is not around anyway. Either way, the desired result can never be attained.
If this lady truly wanted a pet that didn’t eat things off the ground, then do you know what the best thing would be for her to do? Kill her dog and get a bird. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. The dog’s nature is the problem. For a true, lasting, from-the-heart change to occur, the dog needs to die and be born again…
And now this is how this little episode relates to people. Because of Adam’s sin, every person that comes into this world is born as a sinner. We sin (do bad things) because we are sinners. It is not the bad things that we do that make us a sinner. It is the fact that we are born as a sinner that makes us do bad things. The problem is with our nature.
Rules, discipline and punishment cannot change our nature. It may modify our behaviour slightly, but it cannot bring about true, lasting, from-the-heart change. If we are restrained by rules, regulations, laws, discipline etc., then we may look good on the outside, but inside we will still be a sinner. And we will be a miserable sinner at that!
Like the dog, we will become bitter and resentful towards the person or institution that is restraining us. Or alternatively, we will just sneak off and sin in secret. Probably both! Talk about being one miserable puppy!
So, what is the solution? We need to die and be born again. And that is what the Gospel is all about. That is the result of the Cross of Jesus Christ!
When He hung on the cross, He took our sin nature – the part of us that made us a sinner (the dog inside of us!) – in His own body. And when He was crucified, our sin nature was crucified. When He died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. The dog is dead! Hallelujah!
Now all who believe the Gospel are instantly born again. We become a new creation. A creation that is righteous, holy and perfect. We become just like Jesus Christ Himself on the inside! The dog becomes a bird. Before we were stuck scrounging for scraps on the ground. But now we can fly in life. It’s our nature!
But now imagine again with me that the lady’s dog did actually die and was born again as a bird. What would happen if he still thought he was a dog? He’s a bird. He can fly. The sky is the limit! But if he still thought he was a dog, then he would still act like a dog. He would still scrounge around, looking for scraps.
Imagine that – a bird thinking he is a dog – how tragic! And what would be even more tragic is that the poor bird would probably choke on all the things that he was trying to eat off the ground. He’s not made for that. It would damage him.
What is also tragic is when Christians live their lives thinking that they are still sinners when Jesus has made them righteous and holy. As our hearts are illuminated to the truth that we are no longer a dog, we will begin to soar in the Kingdom…
Have a blessed day!