In the previous blog entry I described the Corruption Cascade of James 1:14-15, which is the path from exposure to fleshly temptations, to thoughts that entice negative behaviors, to the leap from there to negative actions or “sins”. Sins repeated often even cause an individual to reach a point of addiction and a point of no return.
I believe that the Bible offers the most profound remedy to this Corruption Cascade in the form of the salvific work of Jesus Christ and the on-going work of the Holy Spirit. To understand how this works, let’s start by looking at one of the primary sources of sin, our “flesh”. Flesh in the Bible refers not to the biological material that covers our bones but the sum total of the drives that operate in our bodies that pull us towards self-preservation, self-gratification, and self-aggrandizement. In our fallen state, everything that we do is to feed one or more of these three drives. When Eve ate the fruit in the garden of Eden, in Gen 3:6 she did it because it was good for food, the drive towards “self-preservation”, because it was pleasing to the eye, or “self-gratification”, and because she thought it was desirable for gaining wisdom and becoming like God, a move towards “self-aggrandizement”.
Once the first couple gave in, all their offspring were born with “flesh” that was predisposed to seeking these three ends apart from and independent of God their Maker. This is a description of the fallen state of humankind that gives rise to all the relational issues and evils of the human race. Hate, for example is simply an intensely negative feeling invoked through the Corruption Cascade, when an individual begins to entertain thoughts that this individual poses a threat to them in some way.
This brings us to the Biblical remedy. It starts of course with Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross as a penalty for our sins. 1 Peter 2:24 states, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed”. This is the starting point. For an individual, who has made the decision to accept their need for redemption through the work of Christ there is another sequence that is now put in motion. In baptism, they testify to the dying of their “old self” and the birth of a new. This new self being a manifestation of Christ in the life of this disciple. Eph 4:22-24 states that, “in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth”.
This implies that the old self as it is “born again”, begins to forgo its old pursuits of the big three objectives of preservation, gratification and aggrandizement. In its place the individual begins to trust Christ’s work and His promises to preserve, gratify and honor. This transformation happens within an individual only because their own spirit which was driving all his or her pursuits up till then is asked to relinquish control and the Holy Spirit is invited to take over command of the individual’s pursuits. Gal 5:16-18 states, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Or Gal 2:20 which states “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”.
In practice, this change of direction in one’s pursuits is not an all or nothing change. The old self relinquishes control only bit by bit, and the Holy Spirit takes only as much control as has been granted by the old self. This internal struggle is well attested to by Paul in Rom 7:15-20. Nevertheless, the disciple of Christ is driven by brand new pursuits trusting in the promises of Christ. For example, when Christ says, “seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all else will be added unto you” it is a direction with a promise. The Holy Spirit enables the “new” you to both trust in those promises and pursue life in a new direction that’s focused on God’s kingdom ways and it’s values.
So here is how this new human condition addresses the problem of hate. When an individual is driven by the Holy Spirit, they see other people as Christ would see them. Christ sees people as individuals made in His image whom He has died for. It is a gaze of great love. So for that individual, their old perspective is overlaid with a new perspective. The new perspective enables them to see individuals not as threats but as possible fellow spiritual siblings. And a new sequence or cascade of events takes birth within. While the “flesh” of the old self still maintains its pull towards old directions of preservation, gratification and aggrandizement, this time, the new self, has its own pull in the direction of righteousness. And the effect of this new pull is not to tear the individual apart but rather to neutralize the old pull so that its power over the individual is greatly diminished. And with greater spiritual maturity, the old pull not only loses power, it even becomes a repulsive force. But even at the start of an individuals new birth, sin has lost its power over the individual. Here in the midst of multiple pulls, the disciple of Christ is now exposed to Christlike thoughts. When an individual entertains these thoughts, it gives rise to the fruits of the spirit. One of those is “love”. This love is the true antidote to the problem of hate we see around us.
This process can be seen as a Virtuous Cascade. When an individual begins to give into these pulls in the direction of Christ-likeness, this increases Christ-likeness and a greater Christ-likeness increases the pull of the Holy Spirit in our lives, effecting an even deeper transformation of our minds, hearts and will. This process is also known an sanctification. At this point, if the individual were tp give into the pull of the old self, the Holy Spirit provides the capacity to quickly recognize, acknowledge, and repent of this deviation and return to the Holy Spirit directed path.
This my friends is the Biblical remedy for the problem of hate and the entire cornucopia of evil. John 14:6 implies that there is no other solution to the problem of hate, evil and separation from God. Christ died for you and me to provide us so great a solution. May we all receive it and be filled with the fullest measure of blessings that God has planned for us from before He made the world.