With the election behind us now, and as we look forward to--at the very least--four years of something different than we're used to... I thought it would be good to realign our thoughts and hearts a little bit.
No matter what 'side' you were on, or whether you were somewhere in the middle, or even if you decided to just sit this one out, I am confident that none of us are apathetic about who leads our country. Sure, to many Americans (and even more non-Americans living in America...), the choices we were offered were pretty bad this election, but the fact is, someone has to be in charge.
And so we vote (not voting is still a vote to let the majority decide). We exercise our God-given volition to be a part of the process in selecting someone to lead us as a nation.
There is a similar process going on in your heart and mine every second of every day. Every choice we make, no matter how big or small, is influenced by two sides...two 'parties' if you will. There's the 'Old Man' party and the 'New Man' party. And there's no third party.
In Romans 7:19, Paul illustrates poignantly how this internal election plays out a lot of the time. He explains that he often ends up choosing not to do what he wants to do, and that he keeps on doing those things he doesn't want to do.
Why would someone do things they don't want to do? Paul's description sounds a lot like what we would now label 'schizophrenia,' or even MPD - multiple personality disorder. And we're not far off for thinking so, because there really are two natures lobbying for their own special interests in our hearts and minds. These two natures are what I have labeled the 'Old Man' and 'New Man' parties.
The Old Man is our flesh. It is our sin-nature. We were born with it, compliments of Adam and Eve, and it will always be present to some degree this side of heaven. It is why so-called good Christians constantly do bad things, why some Christians do very bad things, and it is why all people have an intrinsic proclivity toward certain sinful behaviors.
The New Man is our identity in Christ. It represents the righteousness that was imputed to us based on the sacrificial death of Jesus, working together with our repentance and belief in Him. The New Man is what God sees when He looks at us, thanks to the blood of Christ, which is our propitiation - a fancy word that essentially means, in layman terms, 'the thing that appeases God's wrath and turns it away.' In the Old Testament, the lid placed on top of the Arc of the Covenant, where the blood was sprinkled, was called the 'mercy-seat' - meaning 'that which makes expiation,' or....you guessed it, propitiation! Thank God for that ten-dollar word!
Because a picture is worth a thousand words, or maybe a hundred ten-dollar words, allow me to briefly paint you one.
Inside the Arc were a couple of things. One of those happened to be the Tablets of the Law. Specifically, the broken tablets.
A physical example of The Broken Law.
The mercy-seat - the lid sprinkled with the blood of a spotless sacrifice - symbolically hid the sins of the people each year...year after year...one year at a time.
Now we have a propitiation with a lifetime guarantee, in the blood of Christ, the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. We have a salvation that is no longer dependent upon yearly sacrifices, but is founded upon an eternal sacrifice, and therefore does not expire.
It is because of the boundless grace of our God--in granting us eternal salvation that isn't attached to any works we may do or sins we may commit--Paul encourages us to live holy lives. Lives of separation from the world, spiritually-speaking. Lives where the New Man party doesn't have any across the table bipartisan relations with the Old Man party.
We are to live lives of gratefulness to our Heavenly Father who will love us no matter what, and will wait for us should the New Man stray into a 'far away land.' (I guess we needed a foreign policy analogy in here somewhere).
Paul acknowledges that there may be the temptation to sin more so that grace may abound, because yes, it does magnify the extreme mercy and grace of God when His children defy His will, but there is a better way. There is a better choice. A better 'vote' so to speak.
A vote for the New Man.
So, as we go about our lives this week, regardless of our political preferences, regardless of who is running this nation now or in the future, let's choose the New Man party in our perpetual internal elections. Let's choose to love others despite our differences. Let's choose to unite those of opposing beliefs by introducing them to Christ, who is the only One who can wake up the New Man in each of us, because if we learned anything from the Old Covenant, it's that laws and politics don't change sinful hearts, and they certainly don't heal broken nations.
No matter who we choose as president, our nation will continue to decline into antediluvian, Sodom-and-Gomorrah-grade wickedness unless God works, and that Work doesn't start at the November elections. It starts in the hearts of individuals.
Who wins the internal election between the New Man and the Old Man in the hearts of each citizen will determine whether or not America lasts another generation, but the lost have only one candidate running...It is up to you and I to get the New Man onto their ballots.
My prayer is that we would all be more deliberate in choosing Christ over the World, and that we would all be more courageous in taking Christ to the World, so that others will have the opportunity to make the same choice.
"If my people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land."