“Oh, for a man to arise in me, that the man I am might cease to be.”
I used to have that quote written on the inside of my devotional book, waiting for the day that this ‘better man’ would arise out of the rubble of who I was. I was not satisfied with the things I thought, the things I said or the things that I did. I longed for that ‘man’ to emerge, the man that I wanted to be. This longing brought me to Shakespeare’s Henry IV part I, which I read over and over. In this play, Prince Hal, spends his youth hanging with fools (Falstaff) and acting foolishly, all the while knowing that eventually he will emerge as the man he really is deep down. And he does, becoming a great king. I identified with Prince Hal, biding my time until this ‘great man’ arose from within the foolishness.
There was only one problem: This man is not there. There is no great man inside each one of us just waiting to come out. We are sinful to the core of our being and it isn’t simply a matter of time and maturity: that man ain’t there.
If you desire to be victorious, if you hate the man you are and like Tennyson long for a day when your foolishness and childishness is cast aside and you suddenly become the man that you desire to be, then you must come to a complete and utter end of yourself and be ‘born again.’ That’s right, the phrase that makes most Christians recoil out of embarrassment is the only thing that will allow this man to exist. Because he is not just sitting inside of you waiting to come out.
You must be born again. The old nature must be crucified with Christ and you must be raised in a new nature, as a new man, not some modified version of your old man. The message that is often preached is that God will take you and bring you to a higher level of yourself. That is not salvation, my friends, that is a lie. It is not some higher level of yourself, it is an obliteration of everything that you are and the implementation of a new nature, from outside of yourself, into your being. You are a new creation, not a souped-up version of your old self.
The reason that this doesn’t get preached enough is because in today’s age of tolerance and humanism, we don’t want to tell anyone that they are sinful to the core. That doesn’t sell well. An add-on to who they are sounds better and less demeaning. But it is a lie and they will forever live in the body of death, never finding that ‘new man’ that they so desperately desire.
Do what I finally did: fall on your face, acknowledge that there is nothing good that lives within you, and receive the new nature that is promised by God. (I Corinthians 5). Be born again – because that man that you’re waiting for to arise from within? He just ain’t there.