2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
You have likely heard it said, “You are a product of your environment”. Everything you have lived through – the experiences you’ve had, things done to you, words said to you – have affected who you are: some for better, and some for worse. It is true, but it only scratches the surface of who you are.
You are also a product of your choices – your decisions, the paths you choose to walk, the priorities you live by, and the ways in which you react to things done and words said to you.
Beyond that, you are also a product of your nature – your human nature – which is sinful. It is your sinful nature that leads you to make poor choices, and even causes you to do and say things to others that harm them in some way. So not only are you a product of your environment, but you are also an influential part of many others’ environments, especially those for whom you have responsibility (such as children) or for whom you are a role model.
his is an awful state to live in! As a product of all these things, are you not doomed in life to always be a victim of the bad in your environment, your choices, and your nature? Even if you manage to place yourself in a new and positive environment and begin to make better choices, your human nature and the habits and character formed over many years will hold you back from the changes you know need to be made.
Thanks be to God! He has not left us helpless in this sad condition.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became man not only to save our souls and “fit us for heaven to live with Him there”. He died and rose again to conquer sin and death, to pay the debt of our sins, but He did so much more! He lived as a man, experiencing everything we do as men and women – conception, birth, growth, trials, tribulations, temptations, baptism, death, and resurrection – to redeem our life on this earth as well as our eternal destination. He was baptized not because He needed it, but because we needed it! He identified as one of us so that by our doing what He did – receiving baptism – we can be set free through His obedience!
You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven to experience victory over the past. In the flesh you may be defined by your environment; in the flesh you may be limited by your past choices and decisions; in the flesh you may be a prisoner of your human nature … but if you have been redeemed by Jesus Christ you are no longer in the flesh: you are in Him! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
But you say, “I don’t feel any different. I still do the same old things, make the same old mistakes, commit the same old sins. And I accepted Jesus a long time ago.” That may be true, but it is not surprising.
Behavioral science has shown through testing that we can become so conditioned by past experiences that we live as if nothing has changed even when it has. A lab animal blocked from food by a glass wall will eventually give up trying to get to it … even after the glass wall has been removed! Only if it is physically helped to access the food will it learn to seek it on its own initiative.
I have a question for you: Is this what satan has done to you? Perhaps in your life you’ve been constantly compared to others and judged inadequate; perhaps you’ve been shamed or ridiculed in public – in school or family gatherings; perhaps you’ve been told by an older generation that you have nothing worthwhile to contribute, or that you’re lazy or don’t try hard enough; perhaps someone in the church (clergy or laity) has gossiped about you. Even worse, perhaps there was someone whose love and affirmation you longed to receive … but they valued the pursuit of money, status, or personal interests more than they valued you, and now you’re convinced you’re defective, you’re the problem. You have salvation, but you’ve given up the hope that this life will get any better for you.
That is a lie! You are redeemed by the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of all the world. You are bought by the blood of the Lamb and you have been set free. The chains are gone, even if you don’t realize it yet!
Jesus came to free you from the tyranny of being a product of your environment, your choices and decisions, and even of your sinful human nature – of anything and everything that separates you from Him.
If this is you – if you need help to realize that the chains are gone, that you are no longer a prisoner of the past – then seek out your bishop or priest for counselling and confession, anointing and empowerment.
And if you haven’t believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, seek out a clergyman or spirit-filled lay person to help you invite Him into your heart. It will not only change your eternal future, but it will transform your tomorrow morning as well.
Word of God: speak! Non nobis Domine+ by Fr. Dana Jackson