One of the most difficult of all lessons, and one that many never learn, is man’s total inadequacy in the area of eternal values. This is the result of his disorientation from God with its resulting loss of spiritual perspective.

We like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient, the masters of our destinies and the architects of our own lives. The result is disastrous for us and for our influence on others.

The scientific achievements of today are so overwhelming that we forget that they have nothing to do with spiritual ends, only with the immediate and the material.

Throughout history man has repeatedly substituted his own opinions for the clear revelations of divine truth. The serpent’s question to Eve, “Yea, hath God said?,” is as modern as today’s newspaper because we fail to realize our utter inadequacy in the most important area of human existence.

Man is afflicted with spiritual blindness. But healing is available from the One who gave sight to the blind beggar by the Jericho road. The key to restoration was that he knew he was blind and turned for healing to the right person.

When man realizes his total inadequacy, he no longer can evade the fact of sin and his inability to cope with it. More than anything a man needs to have his sin forgiven and covered, but this is not within the scope of human ability. Only as the Holy Spirit enables man to see himself as God sees him can he understand the significance of sin, that it is man’s offense against a holy God and that the fig leaves of man-devised covering cannot withstand the burning purity of God’s holiness.

When we come to realize and admit the plight of those whose sins are unforgiven and the ultimate destiny of unrepentant sinners, we are ready to seek the forgiveness so freely offered. We cannot forgive ourselves; that is God’s prerogative and desire, and therein lies the basic solution.

We are also unable to cleanse our lives; yet we need to be cleansed. We are so prone to self-deception. We try to fool others and often do. But nothing is hidden from God, and he sees the filth we try to cover up by an external piety.

Honesty with ourselves is needed. Who would submit to having his picture taken by a camera capable of showing up the human heart? Who would be willing to have his innermost thoughts revealed? Probably no one. However, none can escape the all-seeing eye of the One with whom we have to do. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that the Augean stables of our hearts need cleansing.

Not only do we need forgiveness and cleansing; we also need filling. Self-reformation may give a good impression to others for the moment, but only the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can fill us with love, joy, peace, and the rest of the Christian graces.

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It is precisely at this point that so many Christians fail. By too many the anointing of the Holy Spirit is regarded with either skepticism or fear. We do not want to “go overboard” in our religion. As a result, we live with a vacuum that in time will be filled either by God himself or by the Enemy who disfigures and destroys.

Only when we have been forgiven, cleansed, and filled—all by the loving mercy of the sovereign and redeeming God—are we ready to serve God and our fellow man, all for the glory of God.

Out of such an experience there comes power. Without it there is weakness and frustration. If we are willing to admit our own inadequacy and accept God’s total ability to save, keep, and supply, we then stand on the threshold of power—not power as the world understands it, but the power of a redeemed and renewed life lived in the conscious presence of God himself.

Otherwise we may have the faith that saves but that never goes on to victory in every area of life. How often we live lives of frustration and defeat, all because we have continued to hold back something from God. Every Christian is sorely tempted to keep in reserve some area of thought, word, or deed, and this reservation acts like a cancer in his spiritual life and witness.

And how we need wisdom to live aright! No Christian escapes problems and decisions that demand a wisdom he does not have. Where then is he to find this wisdom? Is he to base his decisions on the seeming demands of the moment? Is he to depend solely on the advice of others? Is he to “play by ear” the difficult situations of life with the hope that his own experience will lead him to the right answers?

God gives guidance and wisdom in various ways. He uses his written Word, our experiences, our contacts with others, emerging developments—many isolated or combined circumstances—to give leading and wisdom to the seeking soul. Without such help we run head-on into multiplied frustrations and defeats.

How strange that we presume to go it alone. How wonderful that God offers his own divine wisdom and guidance for the asking.

In all that has been said, and we are speaking to Christians, the issue is our usefulness in God’s Kingdom.

As a new creation in Christ the Christian does not live in a vacuum. He is in the world as “salt” in the midst of a decaying society, as “light” in the midst of spiritual darkness. This new life cannot be lived apart from the fullness of what Christ has to offer. Therefore everyone should set as his goal the fulfillment of God’s will for him. “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”—this should be our daily prayer. When a realization of total inadequacy has been replaced by faith in the completeness of God’s ability, one then has started on the road to usefulness, to the place where life really counts.

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The recurring attempts to reform society without redeemed men is an ever constant source of confusion. And Christians add to this confusion by not exhibiting in their lives the effects of the “great transaction” in which they realized their own inadequacy and God’s complete adequacy for everything in their lives.

One of the greatest of all benedictions is found at the conclusion of Jude’s epistle: “Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever (vv. 24, 25, RSV).

Here we find reference to God’s ability to keep us now and on into the glory of his presence for all eternity. This keeping is for today and every day, and it depends on our letting go of self and taking hold of God by faith.

Self-sufficiency has been the downfall of many. A recognition of our total inadequacy is not a deterrent to highest accomplishments for God: it is rather the only route to success.

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