As a Christian, there is nothing more despairing and hopeless that repetitive sin. How easy it is for doubts and confusion regarding our own salvation to begin to creep into our minds when we continue to sin over and over again. Overwhelming feelings of God’s anger and disappointment with our repeated rebellious behavior can crush us so completely we eventually do not want to come to him at all.
In the Bible, “The heart” is a phrase used in many ways. But to boil it down really quick, according to the Bible, your heart is the deepest, truest you. Therefore when Jesus said that out of the heart comes evil actions (Matthew 15:18-19), he was saying who we are determines what we do.
The Bible says we must put ourselves last if we hope to be a servant to all and reflect Christ (Mark 9:35). What that does not mean, however, is that we must “put ourselves down.”
Negative self-talk, hatred of self, and putting yourself down are not commands found in the Bible. So what does the Bible say about putting yourself down?
The parable of the prodigal son is perhaps the richest parable in the entire Bible. So many theological and practical points can be made about God, humans, and the story we all find ourselves in through studying Luke 15:11-32.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful angles to look at this story is by answering the question, “Why did the father of the prodigal son celebrate his homecoming?” When we answer this question, our appreciation for the glory of God and his great love for us expressed in grace is intensified.
So here are four reasons the father of the prodigal son celebrated his homecoming.
I met Michael while working at a Christian drug rehab center in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a coworker of mine, and he has one of those testimonies you’ll never forget. But there was one part of it that has especially stuck with me.
When we look at other people’s lives, it’s usually pretty easy to see root of their problems. Your friend can’t commit even though she keeps meeting potentially great partners, and she just can’t figure out why. You know her dad left her when she was young, so it seems obvious to you that her commitment issue is probably a defense mechanism to protect herself from not getting abandoned again. Why can’t she see this?
Detoxing is a medical term often associated with cleansing the body from impure substances. You can detox from anything ranging from sugar to relationship or from chocolate to crack cocaine. While detoxing from sin is not a topic directly found in the Bible, there are certainly many similarities.
The short and very sufficient answer to “How can I be saved?” is this: Put your faith in Jesus Christ. If you remember nothing else, remember that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
So what does the Bible say about personal responsibility?
Throughout the Bible, the real problem was not the Philistines, Egyptians, Syrians, or Romans. It was not the Red Sea, the lack of water, or the absence of food for the people. Nothing could hinder God’s purpose for his people other than the people themselves.
Life is painful. With every increase of joy and happiness comes a greater and greater likelihood of experiencing loss. The more important something becomes to you, the more it hurts when it’s taken away. And so if you allow your heart to be open to anything good at all, you also are opening your heart to a very real possibility of being wounded deeply.
So what should we do? It feels like life is one big unwinnable catch-22. We want to experience happiness in this life, and yet to open ourselves up to the possibility of happiness is to make ourselves vulnerable to pain. And yet if we stay closed off to the possibility of pleasure in relationships, careers, churches, and in all the other areas which culminate to make a full, rich life, we may go unscathed but we also will go on living a boring, safe life where our need for safety is also steeling our need for joy.