“We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character,” C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
I don’t like to talk about it much because it is terribly embarrassing, even shameful, but my struggles with internet purity have not gone well recently. Tonight marks only the 14th night in a row wherein I have not gone to a dirty site. Although it’s been two weeks, my mind still often entertains the images, which rekindles the urges all over again, which then makes my fight for purity that much more difficult.
Reading has helped quite a bit. It’s gotten me away from the computer and focused onto something far better and much more respectable. C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain has been particularly helpful, though probably not in the way he intended. His entire discussion in this book (as far as I have read, anyway) has been about why pain exists and what function it plays in our spiritual lives. Since this is a topic that at least hints at origins of one thing or another, Genesis 3 has often been the reference point for Christians to say, “This is why pain exists.”
Lewis, however, does not paint the picture that simply. He’s gotten into some much deeper subjects, but still discussing the story within Genesis 3 as a necessary topic. When he describes the original humans (as symbolized by Adam and Eve) he points out where they went wrong (and where we go wrong nearly on a daily basis):
“They wanted, as we say, to ‘call their souls their own.’ But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, ‘This is our business, not yours.’ But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives.” – Page 75
What then happened when the first humans insisted upon themselves was an internal shift of power: A shift from spiritual (and therefore total) control to natural (and therefore painful) consequences. Lewis writes:
“Thus the organs, no longer governed by man’s will, fell under the control of ordinary biochemical laws and suffered whatever the inter-workings of those laws might bring about in the way of pain, senility and death (***Side note: Lewis did not use the Oxford comma! Chew on that, Tyler and Cindy!***). And desires began to come up into the mind of man, not as his reason chose, but just as the biochemical and environmental facts happened to cause them.” – Pages 77-78
Insistence upon self means the destruction of man. No, I do not mean we will all necessarily die off and cease as being a species upon this earth. I mean that whatever God intended humans to be with His creation of the prototypical man and woman can no longer be. Those blueprints were tossed out the window when the fruit was eaten. What then can be the future of mankind?
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive,” – St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:22
God must have known that his original blueprints were tarnished after the first pair chose for themselves. But that didn’t mean all hope had been lost. By Christ’s willful surrender of His own life, power was returned to the spirit of a man by the Spirit of God.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” St Paul, Philippians 2:8
Man as God originally created him was then able to recover total control, but only by complete self-surrender to God. We cannot be nouns; we must be adjectives.
In describing the “Paradisal man,” Lewis says:
“His data, so to speak, were a psycho-physical organism wholly subject to the will and a will wholly disposed, though not compelled, to turn to God. The self-surrender which he practiced before the Fall meant no struggle but only the delicious overcoming of an infinitesimal self-adherence which delighted to be overcome – of which we see a dim analogy in the rapturous mutual self-surrenders of loves even now.” – Page 76
In the Garden, Adam did not struggle to surrender to God; it was a part of his very nature. He had not even begun to acknowledge his own existence; “I think, therefore I am” did not apply to him, for he knew not of “I.” But when he did, that’s when surrendering to God became difficult – painful even. Yet, when Christ rose from the dead, so, too, did the blueprints for the prototypical man – and much stronger, also.
If we live by Christ, then we have total control over ourselves. We are then able to master our desires, especially the ones we thought most difficult or even unbeatable. As long as we genuinely follow and surrender to Christ, then lust, pride, unwholesome language, and many other potentially-sinful inclinations are now being re-wired out of our genetic mainframe and His Spiritual genes re-wired into it. Adam displayed what a God man could do; Christ displayed what a perfect God man can do.
By Christ’s doing, I am now consciously in control of my desires – something Adam didn’t have. It isn’t my second nature to surrender to God’s commandments – and do so delightedly. I must fight to allow God to change that within me, but I do not fight alone. God lives within me. His genes are becoming my genes. Like Christ being God’s Son, I, too, am becoming a child of God.
My personal struggles will always be present – until I die or Christ returns. But knowing that control is being returned to my choices makes my struggles a little easier, yet more essential to deal with. As my pastor, Tony, once said, “The closer I grow to Christ, the more aware I am of my own sins.” Yet, what I’ve discovered within the last couple of days is equally true: The more I walk with Christ, the more I become the “new kind of man” God is creating.