What is the Meaning of Life
Jesus and our Personality
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 138 Jesus and our Personality by Ernest O’Neill
We are talking about the central problem of mankind. It’s he problem that is stated in a certain verse which runs, “The good that I would I cannot, and the very evil that I hate is the thing that I do.” Actually, it is often preceded by another statement, “I do not understand my own actions because the good that I would I cannot, but the evil that I hate, that I do.”
Another person has put it differently. Dostoyevsky put it this way. He said, “The only reason a man will act against his own best advantage is to have his own way.” In other words, a person will act even against his own advantage. He will act to actually destroy himself in a situation just in order to have his own way. You are probably like me. You’ve found yourself doing this at times and wondering, “Am I crazy? Am I insane?” You’ve often wondered, “How on earth do I change this?”
It’s not only those of us who are alcoholics, or who are drug addicts, or who are caught up in sex or homosexuality or lesbianism, or who are overwhelmed by an evil temper that bursts out and destroys our domestic bliss almost every week. It’s not only people like us who are addicted to those things, it’s all of us. All of us human beings have found ourselves often in the situation where we are not able to do what we know we should do.
It’s not a matter of what should we do, or what is good and what is bad. All of us are pretty clear on most of those things. But our difficulty is in doing what we know we ought to do. The problem in doing it is, we find there is something in us ourselves that opposes good. There’s something in us ourselves which opposes even us. We set our wills to do what we know is right and we find there is something inside us which seems to oppose even our wills.
Of course, what we have been saying is, it’s our very nature. It’s our whole nature. Our whole mind and emotions seem to work, not from our wills, but they seem to be dominated by our bodies. Our bodies, in their turn, seem to be dominated by circumstances in the world. They seem to be dominated by things; they seem to be dominated by people.
Often, we find ourselves absolutely driven to certain actions because of what people think. Our little eyes look out and we see somebody who is disapproving of us. That sends a signal to our little emotions that want to be praised and want to be liked, and that sends a signal to our mind and our mind determines, “Boy, it’s not a bright thing to say that, and it’s going to bring disapproval from that person.” Our mind utterly dominates our will and our poor little will has no say in the matter at all. So, we are driven to certain actions because of what people think.
It’s the same with circumstances. Often, we get up in the morning and it’s raining. It’s raining, and the clouds are dark, and the day looks miserable, and we want to be happy that day. It’s somebody’s birthday and we want to be upbeat, but suddenly, our eyes catch the sight of that gloomy morning and they send a signal to our emotions, “It’s a dark, dull day. Don’t you feel dull and dark?”
Our emotions then send a signal to our minds saying this is going to be a miserable day. Our mind just determines, “Well, this is a sad day, so let’s keep a frown on our face and let’s look down and let’s not make any effort to make anybody happy.” The poor little will just submits. It has no chance to do anything else. Most of us have found there is something in our whole personalities which opposes what we really want to do.
What we have been saying is, short of being able to take your personality and check it in for a new one, or have a surgeon cut out your personality and put in a new one, there seems no answer to this. Many of us have tried, of course, to retrain our personalities and we make a little progress. On the whole, however, the personality remains largely the same. If we beat it down in one area, it seems to pop up in another.
We wonder, is there any way out of this, or do we have to die with this personality and just make do with ameliorating the situation as best we can? What we have been saying is, you don’t have to die with it. You don’t have to live with it. The Maker who made you knew this would come about. He knew this would come about. He knew you would develop a personality like that. He foresaw that. He actually made arrangements to change it. He did it in a cosmic miracle.
Now, you may say, “Wait a minute! You were logical up to this point, but now you’re expecting me to take a leap of faith.” Yes, I have to do that. Because it is, in fact, a fact. There are facts, you know, which are beyond our present ability to reason around them. You know it is a matter of fact that many of the stars we see in the sky no longer exist. It’s just the light from them which is travelling towards us. That’s what we see. The distances are so huge in space that the light has to take centuries and centuries to get to us.
It’s almost impossible for our reason to grasp this. We look up and we say, “Oh, that is a star.” It’s really only the light coming to us. It isn’t a star. The star has died centuries ago. It’s very hard for us to reason around that. There are things our reason finds very hard to grasp. Yet, you believe it. You believe it even though you can’t reason it through. You believe it.
There are many things you believe about computers. You don’t know exactly how they work. You don’t know every detail about them. It’s the same with your internal combustion engine. You don’t understand everything, yet, you do believe certain things. I make no apology. This is just a very important fact that is vital for you to know. Your Creator knew you would develop the personality that is so selfish and is so opposed to what you want to do and to what you know is right. He destroyed that personality in His Son, Jesus.
That’s what that death of Jesus Christ is all about. It’s not just a matter of forgiveness of sins. It’s not just a matter of God being prepared to forgive you your sins, if you believe that Jesus died for you. It’s not just that. It’s that God put you into His Son, Jesus and He destroyed that old selfish personality in His Son and He remade you completely when He raised Jesus from the dead.
If you say to me, “Oh, now, come on. Did all that happen in 29 A.D.?” No, it was expressed in 29 A.D. It was real enough in 29 A.D. That’s when He was crucified. But, really, He was crucified from before the foundation of the world. There’s a verse in the Bible that says He was slain from before the foundation of the world. The fact is that God the creator exists in timeless eternity above time and space. It’s there that He remade you completely. He has remade your personality absolutely and perfectly. There is a beautiful personality for you that exists in timeless eternity.
If you say to me, “Yeah, timeless eternity! But how does it become real in my life today?” Through an amazing power that God has put in the universe. It’s actually a power, but He’s actually a person too. He’s the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is able to take this new personality of yours that exists in timeless space and He is able to bring that into this temporal world and He’s able to make that real in your life today. He is able to do that. He can do that by a miraculous transmission of that new personality out of timeless eternity and bring it into time and space here.
He is able to do that and if you say, “Well, why doesn’t He do it?” Because you have never believed that. He
cannot do what you will not believe Him to do, because He is dependent on your free will. You have to want Him to do it. You have to want it and you have to be willing for it. You have to be willing for such a new personality to come into you as Jesus, Himself, had. A personality that is willing to depend on God alone for your security, significance and your happiness and not to depend on men, or circumstances, or things.
If you’re willing to live that kind of life, then all you have to do is to believe that the Creator has already done that for you, and His Holy Spirit will make that miraculously real in your life day by day. All you have to do is from this moment on, listen to the Holy Spirit. Believe that He is there in you as a real person and begin to listen to what He tells you to do, and you’ll find He’ll give you the power to do it. That’s how to be free and it can be your experience today.
Let’s talk a little more tomorrow about it.