Broken Water Pots and the Gospel
Of all the struggles I face, the one thing I struggle with most is myself.
It is of some consolation (but perhaps not much) that I share that problem with Paul.
Remember that somewhat convoluted statement of his: What I want to do, I don't. And what I don't want to do, I do?
Part of that conversation with the readers of his letter to the Romans describes Paul's recognition that the law is a good thing. He calls it holy, righteous and good (7:12) Without the law, which is God's standard for righteousness, he would not have realized just how sinful his sin was. But at the same time, that revelation brought with it an understanding that there are consequences that follow that sin, suffering and death that is "the [real] fruit of the poisonous tree [that is me]."
Paul's words almost sound like a lament, as well they should: "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out…So I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work in me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" (Romans 7:18, 21-24)
Recognizing who and what we are. and where who and what we are is going to take us, begs the question: How can this be fixed? Among other metaphors, the Bible describe this desire to fix the problem that it ourselves as being thirsty for something more satisfying than the cracked water jugs that a sinful life has to offer.
Enter the Gospel. Like S.W.A.T coming to the rescue of the maiden in the clutches of kidnappers, the good news arrives to offer salvation to those who couldn't save themselves.
"Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!." (7:25) And He keeps on delivering us from ourselves and from our bent to do what we should not and not do what we should.
J.C. Ryle writes this in his commentary on the Gospel of John: “Happy are those who know something by experience of spiritual ‘thirst.’ The beginning of all true Christianity is to discover that we are guilty, empty, needy sinners. Till we know that we are lost, we are not in the way to be saved. The very first step toward heaven is to be thoroughly convinced that we deserve hell. That sense of sin which sometimes alarms a man and makes him think his own case is desperate, is a good sign. It is in face a symptom of spiritual life: ‘Blessed indeed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.’ (Matt. 5:6)”
Our society condemns negative thinking, what we used to call "worm theology". But the truth is, Ryle has a point, one that Paul did not hesitate to confess We need to acknowledge our guilt before we can embrace the Saviour who died to remove it. As Paul so readily professed: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." (1 Timothy 1:15)
That's the Gospel.