Are You Avoiding The Operating Room?
Imagine sitting in the doctor's office and you find out that you have a terminal illness and your only solution is surgery. It's safe to say that no one looks forward to hearing news like that. I'll be the first to admit that I would avoid surgery at all costs. I'll go out of my way to try natural remedies, medication, meditation, positive thinking, prayer, or any other method that prevents me from going under the knife. The reasons for avoiding surgery is simple: pain and fear. People fear confronting the pain associated with surgery, even if it will help in the long run. Many people are fine adapting to hurts and pains and carrying them around instead of seeking change.
Well, we don't have to imagine any longer because we all have a common diagnosis. Everyone has a universal pathogen called sin. The disease of sin has infiltrated the human composition ever since the fall of Adam and Eve. The bible makes this declaration clear in many places, but it's made plain in 1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Some people proudly proclaim themselves to be good people because they don't have a criminal record and they do good works. I know because I used to be one of them. That assessment is fine if you are measuring yourself to a societal standard, but compared to an holy and perfect God, there is no one that is good.
The consequence of sin is a contaminated heart. The contaminated heart produces wickedness, becomes hardened, and ultimately results in death (separation from God). The media always markets our hearts as so loving and kind, but the word of God reveals the true condition of our hearts:
Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can
know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his
ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Accepting that we are wicked in our sin nature is hard for most people to stomach, but you can't conquer what you don't confront. The sooner we acknowledge this with God, the sooner we can receive our salvation and healing.
God reveals the only solution to our sin problem In the book of Ezekiel where he makes a promise to Israel: Ezekiel 36:26 "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." What is God talking about here? He's talking about surgery! He's specifically talking about heart replacement surgery. This revelation prompted me to look up some facts about heart replacement surgery that minister on a spiritual level:
A heart transplant is when a diseased heart is removed and replaced it with a donor heart. A person needs heart replacement surgery when the heart is failing and other treatments are not effective. We have already determined that sin is our "disease" resulting in a stony heart and separation from God. Many of us try to self-medicate instead of having God operate on us. This self-medication can come through the pleasures of sin, such as overeating, fornication, drinking, drugs, or wild partying. There can also be more self-righteous approaches such as selfish ambition, educational achievement, career advancement, physical fitness, competition, false religion, and thrill seeking. The problem with these other treatments is that they never solve the problem of the stony heart. They are temporary fixes. There will never be total healing until we realize the depravity of our hearts is a God sized void that only Christ can heal.
Heart transplants are typically given to people who demonstrate a change in behavior destructive behavior. For example, if your heart was damage through smoking or abusing alcohol and you have not changed, the doctors will not select you as a recipient because the heart they are donating is precious. They know that if you continue in the same behavior that got you there in the first place, the procedure will be in vain. Spiritually, this is represents repentance. I want to be clear you do not (and cannot) fix yourself before coming to God, but you do have to fix your mind and your heart to the posture of repentance. Repentance is simply purposing in your heart and mind to turn away from sin and toward God.
The actual process involves taking out the old heart and connecting the major blood vessels to a machine that pumps blood through your body. In order for the heart transplant to be completed, you have to get to a point where you are totally dependent and willing to relinquish control. Oftentimes, we don't want to relinquish control because of fear or pride. However, this surrender is what the Lord is looking for to make positive changes in our lives and make us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The biggest risk involved with the procedure is that the patient's body may reject the donor heart. Our donor and Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ. God's promise of a heart of flesh is one where Christ dwells:
Ephesians 3:14-17 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according
to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That
Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
The entire salvation process is designed to conform believers into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), which is putting on the mind of Christ and having our hearts transformed. Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. This refinement of our hearts being moved from a stony condition to a heart of flesh is essential to being able to receive and give the love of Christ.
Many of us are guilty of rejecting Christ's heart at one point or another in our lives. Our flesh constantly wars against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). In order for this surgery to be successful, we have got to keep our flesh under subjection. It's very easy to reject the correction and conviction that God gives us out of love. It's very easy to succumb t the sinful pleasures that corrupted our hearts in the first place. We must look at the big picture and understand that the things that God has for us are infinitely better than what the world can offer.
|So What's Your Decision?|
A huge barrier of genuine salvation is avoiding the surgery that God desperately wants to perform. God commended his love to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We know instinctively that this surgery will result in the death of the sin behavior that contaminated our stony hearts. The prideful people will pretend as though they don't need surgery. The fearful people will never confront the surgery and try to get by with the ailments for the rest of their lives. The victorious people will surrender to God and allow Him to make us into everything that He designed us to be. You are fearfully and; wonderfully made and you are victorious. Lord have your way!