Church of God, New World Ministries

Living Up To Our Potential

Personal discouragement and a feeling of worthlessness are hallmarks of our troubled times.

Depression as one writer puts it “is a gray menace.” Depression and discouragement will gnaw at you until they destroy you, if you let them.
And nothing is more depressing than the idea that you, as an individual are worthless.

Years ago, when the Old Plain Truth magazine was in circulation a reader of that magazine wrote: “I have often looked longingly at the guns hanging on my wall and thought that maybe that would be the best way out.”

This man wrote of feelings of inferiority, guilt, and worthlessness. There are many who suffer from similar feelings, if you are one of these people, it is high time you adopt a new view of yourself and the rest of humanity.

As human beings, we all have low points, not one of us is immune from occasional despondency. But the fact is, no one has to live with it on a chronic basis.

Some people are very consistent, they are always discouraged. They have the “pits.” They have adopted a permanent posture of personal worthlessness. They are like one of the characters in Peanuts cartoon, always a dark cloud hanging over their heads.

People like this, have a massive loss of self-esteem. They have lost their zest for life and any sense of personal worth. They feel neither competent to live nor worthy of life, they are self-destructive.

As a result of this chronic depression such people are not even beginning to live up to their own human potential. The chances are, they have not yet discovered the talents, abilities and qualities that lie within themselves. You might say, that their flag is flying at half-mast over the death of the self.

They just can’t seem to climb out of the crypt of despair into which they have fallen. For all intents and purposes such people are through. They have lost their reason to live, even worst, they have lost their will to live.

But there is something you can do about it, you can begin by changing your view of man in general, then you can change your view of yourself.

There are some people that believe that the Bible’s view of man is essentially negative. As we all know, the Bible pulls no punches in exposing the evil aspects of human nature.

The prophet Jeremiah writes: “The heart is deceitful about all things, and desperately corrupt, who can understand it” (Jere. 17:9).

All of us have experienced the deceitfulness of our own hearts. That is why we can say: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

How many times have we all betrayed our own best intentions and done the very thing we were trying to avoid? This was probably what the apostle Paul was talking about in the book of Romans: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15).

The apostle Paul concluded that sin dwelt within his very being. There is a part of man’s nature that is sinful and evil, and sooner or later, this evil will assert itself as a result “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Every day of our lives, knowingly or unknowingly, we are locked in a struggle against evil. Each day presents us with temptations, moral dilemmas, and challenges.

But this does not mean that man is essentially evil.

The best way to understand this matter of human nature is to go back to the beginning.

We are told that God “created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him male and female, he created them” (Gen. 1:27). This verse you just read is the first and most basic point of understanding.

Man is created in the image of God. So, when God surveyed the physical creation, including the man and woman God observed the man and woman “it was very good.”

So, man created in God’s image is very good. He is not intrinsically evil. He is essentially a good creation.

God created mankind with a vast potential both for this life and for the life to come. God built into each of us talents, skills, brain power, tactile dexterity and other qualities, which places us far above the animal kingdom.

Man is not an animal, man is reflection of God. It is true, man has sinned. The book of Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve gave in to the tempting’s of Satan in the Garden of Eden.

The apostle Paul tells us: “Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom. 5:12). In other words, God did not create man sinful. Sin came into the human world when Adam and Eve sinned by listening to Satan the Devil.

Adam, by his nature was not evil, he was created morally neutral, he had neither sinned nor done good. He had done nothing. Adam was not a bad creation, but Adam had the capacity for evil.

Adam and Eve were created with freedom of choice. Mankind has always had a choice. God had told the Israelites in the days of Moses: “I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil, if you obey, but if your hearts turns away, you shall perish” (Deut. 30:15-17).

God had given Israel an equal choice between obeying or turning away from Him and missing the mark of His standard of behavior.

So, when you and I sin (that is to miss the mark) it is because we have the capacity to make such a negative choice. God could not hold us responsible for evil, if we had no choice to perform it because of the way He made us.

We are not robots, God created man with the capacity for choice. We are accountable to God for our choices.

If man sins, he is said to be condemned, if he does good and avoids sin, he is said to be righteous. But the man who is forgiven of sin is said to be justified. That he is considered righteous before God.

We need to understand this: Christians who are forgiven and justified by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, they do not exist in a chronic state of guilt.

Paul made this very clear: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Christians stand justified before God, our guilt for moral failure has been removed as an act of God’s mercy. But do Christians sin, YES! Paul sinned even as an apostle (Rom. 7:15). But he was not condemned, Paul did not live in a state of perpetual guilt. Jesus Christ delivered him from that: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom. 7:24-25).

After Paul’s conversion, and all the things he had to endure, he didn’t adopt a whipped dog posture about himself.

Man’s nature is a mixture of good and evil potential. We have negative and positive capacities. When we sin, we do it by choice. When we do good, we do it by choice. Each one of us has the capacity for evil, Jesus Christ said so:

“For from within, out of the heart of man, comes evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and they defile a man” (Mark 7:21-22).

Jesus Christ knows what is in man He knows that we have the capacity for great evil. But He also recognized that we are but dust, He knows our frame, and He understands that the flesh is weak.

Did God the Father and Jesus Christ quit on us? NO, not at all. They knew, with the help of the Holy Spirit, man was capable of much good.

God promised to send us the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 26; John 16:13). The Holy Spirit that they promised to send literally means “a help alongside.”

This Spirit would provide Christians with dynamic power (Acts 1:8) with which to overcome the negative aspects of our nature.

With the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we can produce good fruit, the sky is the limit, we reach great heights, we have at our disposal the same power that created the universe.

With God’s help we realize our own maximum potential in this life and the life to come. We don’t need to be discouraged in the light of this knowledge, we don’t need to live in a state of chronic guilt and fear, or have the woe is me attitude.

Each of us must assume the responsibility for our self, we have to take the initiative in the face of God’s calling and offer.

To know God is to know true freedom. It means freedom from guilt, or self-doubt, of chronic discouragement, from a sense of worthlessness. Are you worth something? God thinks so. Man is worth so much that He gave His only begotten Son for us.

To God, we are the pinnacle of His creation, His ultimate expression of divine ingenuity. Man is created in the image of God, in all of his beautiful sizes, shapes, skin color, and types is a child of God, man in two sexes is created in the image of God.

For many Christianity is basically a religion of the afterlife. But real Christianity is a religion of the now, it is a way of life, it is a way of tapping into one’s potential as a human being created in the image of God.

Solomon tells us “Whatever we have to do with, do it with your might” (Ecc. 9:10). Why? Because there is nothing to do in the grave except to wait unconsciously in dark oblivious for the resurrection call of God.

Today is the time of our salvation if you have been called of God. This is our moment in the sun, our time of personal fulfillment. It’s a time of hope of joy, a time to revel your talents and abilities, a time to use them fully in order to glorify God, a time to use the Holy Spirit to fight against the unseen forces of evil and gain victory over the negative side of our own human nature.

A time of forgiveness, a time of personal peace with God there is nothing to be sad and upset about.

Paul wrote: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet” (Heb. 12:12-13).

You and I are a child of God, we have incredible potential both in this life and that which is to come.

In Jesus Christ we can have our sins removed as far as the east is from the west, we can walk freely in the bright light of revelation and forgiveness, knowing that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Then and only then, will we begin to live up to the incredible potential for which we were born.

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