November 23, 2013
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If you’re a comic book nerd, you already know this is a take on the Green Lantern oath, which goes like this:
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!!!
I don’t know a lot about the Green Lantern, which is probably why I liked the Ryan Reynolds movie, but what I do know is that their green power rings harness the power of the user’s will. This power is going to relate to the rest of this blog. You see, I have been thinking about my own heart lately, and it really seems like there’s nothing in it but blackness.
As an intellectual guy, I have a tendency toward trying to please God by knowing all the right answers, or just trying harder not to sin. Just about everyone in the Bible writes against this type of legalism, and for good reason. Paul devotes some harsh words in Galatians 3 to this issue when he writes “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” and later “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse;” etc. Now I think this may be a form of legalism lite, in the sense that I’m not looking at the “law” in terms of Old Testament laws and trying to obtain salvation by following them. But what I am doing is trying to refrain from sinning by shear force of will.
This is an interesting battle because on one hand, our sanctification does take effort on our part, but the success of that can’t actually be attributed to us. We are given our right standing before God (justification) instantly, and by grace. We are given a new nature, one that is (through the Holy Spirit’s power) able not to sin. But we can’t be lazy (another tendency of mine) and therefore not fight against the pressures of sin, the flesh, and the devil. I think what it comes down to for me is pride. Pride sneaks its ugly head up in so many different ways. If I do well at fighting certain sins, I’m tempted to be prideful and boast in my success, as if it were in my own strength. If I’m more humble, I’m tempted to be prideful about how humble I am, and how much I have glorified God (or just heaped up empty phrases, more likely).
The twin dangers of pride and laziness are perhaps my “thorns in the flesh” that I must learn to bring under the dominion of Christ. It’s an odd thing, to want to work extremely hard on the one hand, yet be lazy and do nothing and not fight sin on the other. I can totally identify with Paul in Romans 7 when he asks “What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” and actually, all of Romans 7 speaks to exactly what I most struggle with. In some ways, that brings me comfort, knowing that someone like Paul struggled in some of the same ways that I do, and he accomplished much for God.
I suppose all of that is to say that these are areas that I struggle with, and if you’re reading this, you can pray for me and hold me accountable as I try to more fully understand my identity in Christ, and learn what it is to live life Coram Deo.