Have you ever had trouble accepting the concept that people are inherently sinful, that their heart is continually evil? Most Christians don’t, especially when you take a look around at the awful mess of humanity. How about when you make that statement personal: YOU are fundamentally sinful and continually wicked, easily deceived and full of unrighteousness. YOU. A little harder to swallow.
It’s easy to give mental ascent to the concept of Biblical sin when it’s applied to a faceless and impersonal general population. It’s quite another to admit it about ME, about YOU.
It makes it doubly hard when our world is filled with non-stop brainwashing and indoctrination about self-LOVE, self-WORTH, self-HAPPINESS and self-PURSUIT. We live in a world where SELF is elevated to primary importance and value. YOU are important. YOU are worthy. YOU are the one that matters. YOU deserve. YOU, YOU, YOU.
The world says you are GOOD, and only outside influence and internal chemical reactions in your brain make you do something bad. “Sin” (if that word is even used) is only due to environmental circumstances or a “disorder” of the mind. The Bible teaches us that we are in essence BAD (sinful) and that only God’s influence and power makes us capable of doing or being anything good. If that sounds like incompatible concepts, it’s because it is. Every Christian has to make a choice which one to embrace: man’s version (people are good), or God’s (people are sinful and wicked).
Poor Pitiful Christians
At this point, I get accused of teaching that Christians should exist as pitiful souls covered in sack cloth and ashes, humbly declaring their worthlessness and seeking nothing out of life except penance and condemnation. Hardly. Does the Biblical teaching about man’s sinful nature mean a Christian is not deserving of love? A Christian has no worth? A Christian is a pile of evil sewage hoping to slip into the gates of heaven even if it’s just as a golden street sweeper?
Far from it, a Christian has been elevated by God to the highest levels of self esteem and the most self worth of all humanity… when understood properly. To understand it, consider this word picture first:
Imagine a toilet. Nice huh? Imagine a toilet full of a few days “activity”. Really nice now. Foul, filthy, destructive, disgusting. Pretty worthless, right?
Now imagine the same toilet cleaned out and sanitized. Imagine that toilet filled completely with solid gold. Still a toilet, but filled with solid gold. Would you call it “worthy” now? A treasure? Would you gladly snatch it up and take it with you, or would you say “oh gross, that’s a toilet, I’m not touching that!” All of sudden that filthy worthless object becomes a treasure only because the contents have changed.
Christians are Toilets
Christians are toilets. Not a very pretty description huh, but Biblical none the less.
2 Cor 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
Jars of clay in New Testament times could be used to store just about anything. Some were made to hold valuables, some were made to be common containers. In this verse jars of clay means basically “toilet”, a chamber pot, a bed pan. The point is that even though Christians are filled with God’s TREASURE, we can take no credit for it because we ourselves were nothing but a toilet before God filled us with gold. When we are saved, that is, when we accept that we are really are nothing but toilets filled with sewage in need of a visit from a Heavenly Roto Rooter, God cleans the filth and wickedness out of our “jar of clay” and fills us with the most priceless treasure in the universe: HIMSELF.
I should describe this in more Biblical terms too lest I get too cute with the analogy and miss the real message. Our flesh is sinful. Our hearts our wicked. We are like fleshly toilets. We deceive ourselves to believe otherwise and it’s easily proven. Ever lied? You’re a liar. Even stolen even one thing? You’re a thief. Ever used God’s name casually (OMG anyone?)… you’re a blasphemer. Ever lusted? You’re an adulterer according to Jesus. Ever been jealous and wanted something God gave someone else? You’re covetous. If you’ve gotten this far and are still saying “not me” then go back to “ever lied?”. You’re a lying, thieving, blaspheming, coveting adulterer. Me too. Anyone still want to raise their hand and pretend you are not sinful and your heart is not evil? And that’s not even half the 10 commandments.
When we come to the point of realizing this about ourselves, we can all of sudden understand the imagery that we are a toilet (our humanness) full of sewage (sin and wickedness). When we admit this to God (confession), want to turn away from sin (repentance), and understand that only through Christ (the only way to salvation) can this be accomplished (being “saved”), God then supernaturally cleans out our “jar of clay” and fills it with treasure (the Holy Spirit, eternal life, righteousness, etc). We are no longer filled with sewage (evil, deceit, etc) but rather, jars of clay (still toilets) full of solid gold treasure (righteousness, God’s goodness).
Not Toilets Forever
We still have to live in (and battle) our flesh (the “jar of clay”) during this life. That’s why we continue to struggle with sin and need God’s continual influence to do what is right. A toilet is still a toilet and naturally wants to act like a toilet. We won’t be toilets full of gold for all eternity. Someday, either when Jesus returns or we die and go to meet Him, our current “jar of clay” will be replaced with a new jar of clay but this time it won’t be a toilet, it will be the kind of jar of clay that is meant only to house the most priceless and expensive treasures imaginable. We will get a new body to go along with our new spirit making our redemption complete (both spiritual and physical).
You’re Real Worth
Back to our original point: you are worthy not because of YOU but because God has filled you with His treasure. You’re still a toilet (for a little while) but you are filled with the solid gold of salvation and God’s goodness. Your “self esteem” comes from that. You “deserve” because of God. You are “worthy” because of God. Nothing of you, toilet. Only because of God.
And that’s the Biblical version of self “value”.