I know that some of you reading this don't believe in evolution and I am not one to disagree with you, I don't either (I believe in Micro-evolution not Macro-evolution, but that's a different blog). However, the point I would like to make this morning involves agreeing, at least for a moment, that we are animals in some regard. That God, while making us, possibly used some of the design that resides in animals' circuitry, in us. He gave us all a brain that, I've learned from my psychology classes, can be taught things. Just as a dog can be taught to sit. I came to this conclusion many times before but one particular morning not too long ago I realized something that helped me understand myself. It requires a bit of back story...
I have a boot in my apartment that holds the door to my room open. The door, if the boot is not present, closes by itself and is sort of inconvenient, so the boot is necessary. Whenever I want the door to my room to close I kick the boot out of the way as I walk in and the door, quite conveniently, closes by itself. Thus by having the boot, I've turned a hassle into a blessing. Lemons-lemonade. The first time I kicked the boot and I noticed the door closing, I was actually a little frustrated. But then as I realized how nice it was that the door closed itself, I began telling myself to kick the boot as I walked into my room. This was essentially a reward. Telling myself to let my foot hit the boot was equivalent to Pavlov giving his dogs food. So now, whenever I walk in, I kick the boot. I've taken a small, accidental motion and turned it into a learned response.
Now I think we do this with everything. And this is why I say we are animals. I believe we have a spirit inside us that controls this animal, this body that we cart around, and I believe it's flawed. I say it's flawed because, well, look at the world. We've taught ourselves that whatever feels good is what we should do. We've taught ourselves that listening to our elders is antiquated or old-fashioned, repressive, even just plain wrong.
All this is to say, we need help. We can try to make it through life teaching our animal bodies to do what our spirit wants, but we are still going to fail. This is why new year's resolutions fail, why people go to the gym but then stop, why people can't quit smoking, why drinking is such a hard habit to quit. We have no resources in our own bodies to make this kind of behavior stop. The animals that we are are sick. Back at the beginning of mankind we made a choice to depend only on our animal resources, our own brains, to make a decision and it worked. But now we can't seem to pick anything else. We can't make ourselves decide something other than disobedience to God.
But thanks be to God who leads us in his power! We have the victory. We can be obedient. We can make one choice that will make all other choices possible. Namely, Jesus. Jesus died for the disobedience our great-grandparents committed. Jesus broke the sin that trapped us in a circle of shame and bad decisions. Because he died we can ask him to come into our messed up animal and make it pure again. We can be given his spirit to control this body's decisions and his infinite resources will help us make the right choices. The choices that break us free from addictions like alcohol, drugs, pornography, fantasies, food, cigarettes, etc. The spirit of Jesus Christ in us can make a way where there seems to be no way.