I often find it essential to the life and health of my soul to reflect on the full sufficiency of Jesus Christ. This is not surprising, since my daily life is one of constantly being confronted by my own insufficiency. This usually involves feelings of not “measuring up” in the various roles I find myself trying to fill. Am I a good enough brother or son, or could I be better? Am I a good enough employee or could I be better? Am I a good enough friend and so on, and there really are so many more. Am I a good enough man? A good enough human being? A good neighbor? The list has no end.
It has become clear to me that the world is trying very hard to persuade me that inside myself is the power to fulfill all those potentials and it works tirelessly to do so. The world loathes and despises weakness and regularly exalts and glorifies those who, as they would say, “achieve their dreams.” Based on what I see on television and in movies, and even more so on social media, the world really does want me to believe in myself. If I don’t believe in myself, they would recommend counselling, offer me medications, and suggest books on how to be more confident. The bombardment of this philosophy is so pervasive, it can’t help but stink of desperation.
Even the question “Am I good enough?” is deceptive. It implies some measure of goodness in myself where there is none at all. The world doesn’t even mind me asking if I’m good enough. It would love nothing more than to enslave me to these insecurities, driving me all the more mercilessly into more and more self-improvement efforts. The ultimate aim of all this of course, is to blind me by keeping my eyes on myself, my future potential, and my current progress towards it. Under this blindness, I cannot see my true woeful condition nor the grace of God being offered to me in the person of Christ.
The apostle Paul had great clarity on his condition. Though blinded on the road to Damascus, the vision he regained afterwards was crystal clear. He says about himself, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” and although he had many reasons for confidence in the flesh, he emphatically takes a stand against any and all such confidence. “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Paul was not the first to speak about our flesh in this way. The prophet Jeremiahs writes:
Thus says the LORD:Jeremiah 17:5-6
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.”
After Paul was taken up into the third heaven and given a revelation of such surpassing greatness, hearing things which “man may not utter,” he was given a thorn in his flesh because he was in danger of becoming conceited. Though he pleaded with God for the removal of this thorn, thinking it would hinder his ministry, the Lord reassured him with “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In response to the sufficiency of God’s grace, Paul determined to “boast all the more gladly” of his weaknesses.
So often as I am reminded of my weaknesses with thoughts that I am not a good brother, a good son, a good friend, or even a good person (which are all true), I boast all the more gladly in the grace of God through Christ Jesus. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” God’s grace is sufficient, because that grace comes to us through Christ Jesus and He is sufficient beyond measure. In Him, dwells the fullness of all God’s mercy, love, and compassion, for “in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.Romans 7:18
For to set the mind on flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.Romans 8:6-7
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.2 Corinthians 12:7-9
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Christ Jesus.John 1:17
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.Colossians 2:9