I knew of a young man who invited a staff member from his church to lunch. The young man had a problem. He felt like his life was a mess and going nowhere, so he wanted to ask this mature believer to disciple him. He laid out the problems he was facing over lunch and asked the staff member to mentor him. But the staff member responded by reinforcing what the young man already knew: that his life was a mess and he needed to be discipled.
If we’re honest, we already know our lives are a mess, that something is wrong with us at our core. We look back at our sins, the second chances we’ve taken, and all the new leaves we’ve turned over, only to see nothing but a long string of failure. We see the cycle of sin and long for something more.
While we may not have taken part in the special kind of debauchery that existed in Israel during the time of the judges, their cycle of failure should feel familiar to us. The people would fall into sin and idolatry. Then, the Lord would give them into the hands of their enemies. They would cry out for deliverance, and God would send a judge to rescue them. After the judge’s death, their sins would pile up higher than they had before.
Like every other servant of God in the Old Testament, the judges delivered the people for a time and things would get better, but the change never lasted. This is why the prophets spoke of one who would come to bring abiding change to the hearts of God’s people. God promised through Ezekiel: “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them” (Ezekiel 11:19).
This is good news for those of us spinning our wheels in a never-ending litany of resolutions and promises to change. In Christ, God gives us a new heart and puts his Holy Spirit within us. In Christ, he receives us freely. In Christ, we get to experience a real and lasting change in our lives. By the power of his Spirit at work within us, we are no longer slaves to our old habits, sins, and hang-ups. We are men made new by the righteous Deliverer.
Written by Scott Slayton