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 (Manna 26)
The Ugly Old I
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“There is another ‘I’ inside him, who often suppresses the godly ‘I’”.

Human fallen nature is demonstrated in the fallen world. Many Christians still submit to their old ‘I’. No doubt these poor souls deserve our care and love. But Oswald feels sad about the ignorance that blinds them to their purpose of life. In fact, he is pitying himself. If he were still in sin (in reality he is), life would be a long list of weekly lottery numbers, gradually conquered by other vices suds as those stated in Mark 7:21-22, “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (NIV).

One day, when reading the Bible, solely by chance, he realises that the ugly old ‘I’ which had supposedly been crucified ages ago with Christ is still very much alive in him. Despite outwardly following Christ, he still keeps the old ‘I’ inside. Worse still, he knows he shouldn’t, but he allows ‘him’ to live on.

In this world, there are people who take pride in their sinful activities. Sometimes, Oswald wishes to be different. Unfortunately he does not want it radically enough. He goes on committing what he thinks are negligible or pardonable sins — not condemning adultery but watching pornographic films; telling others to be tolerant and forgiving but attacking and slandering his correctors; wanting his close friends to attend weekly Sabbath services but skipping others; promoting his family in church but degrading the fervent and the knowledgeable. There is another ‘I’ inside him, who often suppresses the godly ‘I’.

Oswald’s problem is partly the result of social allurement to which he is subject at work, but can be overcome if he is determined enough. It is, he knows very well, not possible for one to be indulgent and godly at the same time. But he still goes to casino — though he does not gamble big — a vice that ruins his Christian identity and morals. As a result, the reputation of the church suffers.

When he was younger, he had behaved quite well. He was a responsible youth in church, and he cared for the needy, both physically and spiritually. He participated heartily in the ministry of saving souls. He was exemplary to many older members. Later, his fervency for the Lord dwindled. As soon as his family moved away from the church following his father’s job transfer, he began to spend more time with his schoolmates. Gradually the well-established relation-ship with the church was severed. Perhaps, he should have been ready to face the challenge to his spirituality posed by his new environment. But it might not have been entirely his fault.

Maybe he or the church should have persuaded his father to look for another job or make a wiser decision, though both were not in any position to do so and this has caused him his piety for God. In life, the responsibility of stating what is right and what is wrong, especially in difficult situations, tends to be replaced by ‘it will be fine, if we pray for him constantly.’ It is true that no one likes to be labelled interfering, offering advice on matters that are not of their direct concern. However, is that a biblical reason for not doing it? A difficult decision which has to be dealt all the more straightforwardly with God-given wisdom.

Now Oswald has returned to the church. But he is no longer as pure and sincere as his earlier days in church. He continues to join his colleagues for ‘unbiblical activities’, and he even plays ‘politics’ in church.

Like any other who indulges in sin, Oswald can only help himself if he realises that there is a pressing need to do so. Until then, Jesus is just another person, perhaps someone whom he needs only when hr is in trouble. This realisation may come about when he calms his heart down, and focuses his attention on God and His word.

He should be able to change himself for the better, if he return to the wise choice of his school days — mixing with church brethren who are active in the gospel work, and leading prayerful lives. He had experienced the ebb of faith in the past, and was guided through both by God and the helping hands of the brethren. Convinced then that he needed to stay close with those in the community of faith, the godly ‘I’ grew in him progressively.

He ought to know that now the godly ‘I’ is barely surviving. Indeed, sometimes in his spiritually awakened moments, he can only think of one reason for worrying about ‘him’ — if the godly ‘I’ is dead he loses his salvation. But then he feels that if the godly ‘I’ is too ‘alive’, he will be restrained from and deprived of the fleeting pleasures of the world. He believes that a person’s fallen nature is widely demonstrated in this fallen world, and most people behave the same way. Why should he make himself drastically different from the rest of the world?

The question is “Are these valid excuses?” Above all, does God accept them?

Surely He does not.

Jesus has been praying for us to be protected against the wickedness of this world. However, we should play our role diligently as well as to put to death, by the Holy Spirit, the old ‘I’. And this is achievable, because the Lord will give us the strength that we need to overcome all temptations. It is usually a question of how determined we are to take the first step to change and to rely on God. If we remain careless, and allow the old ‘I’ to thrive, by continuing to indulge in worldly pleasures, we will surely destroy our own spiritual life. Are the vain and fleeting pleasures of this world worth such a sacrifice?


1.       Rom 7:l4ff

2.       Col 3:ltf

3.       Phil 1:9f

4.       Thess 1:l4ff

5.       Tit 1:15f


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