The marketing gurus charged with coming up with commercials have a tough assignment. They are tasked with developing ads that will appeal to the widest possible audience, offend no one, and sell a product or service with something original and fresh, yet low cost and economical. Many fail miserably on all points, but a few stick in our minds for decades such as the Big Mac jingle from the 1970s that many of us can still sing.
One of the amusing commercials that aired recently not only brought a smile to my face but also made me think. It’s the one where the assumed dentist finds several cavities but doesn’t fix them because he’s only a dental monitor. Or the security guard that can’t intervene to protect life and property, but only identify there’s a security problem. Such ridiculous responses prompt us to yell, “Then what good are you?”
In a similar way, the Old Testament Law identifies our sin but is powerless to help us overcome it. The Ten Commandments clearly reveal where our shortcomings are and how badly we’re doing at living the way God desires. The additional laws throughout Leviticus and Deuteronomy outline further evidence of our pervasive guilt and imperfection. Unfortunately, while they highlight our faults, all those laws are incapable to effect any positive change within us.
Most of us have a pretty good handle on our problems. We know where our weaknesses and evils lie, we are just unable to do anything about them. We swear promises, determine to do better, and even enlist the help of books and popular strategies, only to fall back into the same old habits again.
This is where Jesus comes in. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. Not only does he provide a way for us to come to God, he provides power to rectify the evils in our lives. The entire body of Old Testament Law is like a schoolmaster that reveals our sin but which then leads us to Jesus who can give us victory over it.
In Romans 7, Paul writes, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Like us, Paul obviously knows he has problems, but cannot master them in spite of his resolve and best intentions.
He then answers his own question by adding, “Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Jesus rescues us from these vicious cycles of sin, guilt, and remorse. He breaks the hold of selfishness and then empowers us to be victorious over even the most difficult temptations.
Returning to the dental reference in the commercial, if I do have a problem with my teeth, I need a dentist to fix it. I don’t like pain and I like paying for it even less, but if I neglect to address cavities when they are small, they will grow to cause even greater ache and expense later.
So too, none of us like to admit we have moral failures, but unless and until we do, those problems will only grow and the pain they cause us and others will also mushroom. It’s much better to allow the Old Testament to identify where those issues are and then permit it to lead us to the only One who can give triumph over these failures. Thankfully, other than our pride and some fleeting pleasure, our costs are minimal for Jesus has already paid these that we might be forgiven and enabled to live differently.
If you find yourself stumped by the same besetting shortfalls, admit them to God and ask him to forgive you through Jesus’ blood. Then allow him to empower you to live differently going forward. He’s not just a sin monitor; he’s a sin fixer, a sin overcomer, and a victory giver! Solicit his help today that you might enjoy the life He created you to live! Blessings, George.