Summary: Everyone of us has the capability of displaying a spirit of generosity & kindness & goodness. There are other moments when we are hateful & hostile & greedy. And in each of us are those 2 diverse natures. (Powerpoints Available - #332)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #332.)
Years ago, when our children were small, I learned a lot about being a parent. But then, as they got older, I began to forget what it was like to have young children around the house. But now, with grandchildren & even great-grandchildren, I have begun learning those lessons all over again.
A. How easy it is, sometimes, to be proud of our great-grandchildren. We see them with their little angelic faces, their bright smiles, sharing their toys & saying "please" & "thank you."
When you go visiting & they see you they come running, throwing their arms around you. You pick them up, & they hug you, & tell you how much they love you. Those are precious moments, when you wish you could stop the clock & cherish them like that forever & ever.
In such moments, Ethel & I look at each other & think, "They're just like little angels, aren't they?" And we notice similarities between them & us, traits that we recognize in one another. We say, "Why, that is just like you," or "Yep, another chip off the old block."
B. But there are other moments, moments when they have temper tantrums & go marching across the floor saying, "No!" & "Mine!" defying discipline; moments when they're angry & selfish & won't share with anybody at all.
In moments like that, we look at each other & think, "They're just like little devils, aren't they?" And we note the similarities between them & some of our other relatives.
The point is, in each little precious child there is both a devil & an angel. And they're not alone. Everybody has those same two natures.
C. Everyone of us has the capability of displaying a spirit of generosity & kindness & goodness. There are moments when we would climb the highest mountain & wade the deepest streams & go to the ends of the world to help each other. There are moments when we are almost like angels.
Then there are other moments when we are hateful & hostile & greedy. There are moments when it is hard to find anything good in us; when we look like, & sound like, & act like devils. And in each of us are those 2 diverse natures.
ILL. Anne Frank wrote in her "Dairy of Anne Frank," "The problem with me is, I am two different people."
ILL. And one of the great literary classics of the late 19th Century, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," written by Robert Louis Stevenson, dramatizes the battle between good & evil in our lives.
But long before that novel was ever written, the Apostle Paul wrote about that same inward conflict in Romans 7:18-19, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing."
Then in vs. 24 he cries out, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
ILL. Well, let's go back for a moment to the story of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. You may remember that in the book Jekyll was a doctor, a scientist who was concerned about what caused seemingly good, normal people to have sudden bursts of terrible anger, uncontrollable rage, & to be capable of the worst types of depravity.
Dr. Jekyll believed that there were two different natures - one good & one evil constantly battling each other - in everyone. And with that I agree. In addition to that, he was sure that, as a doctor, he could develop some formula that could separate out that bad nature & control it.
Experimenting on himself, he succeeded in developing a formula that, when he drank it, would cause his evil nature to appear. Then when he drank it again, the evil nature would disappear.
Dr. Jekyll felt that he had done a wonderful thing until one day he realized that his evil nature was becoming more & more powerful & more evil every day. No longer did the formula control it. Now this evil nature was appearing whenever it wished, & Dr. Jekyll was powerless to stop it.
You know the tragic end to the story of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, don't you? So I don't think I need to go any further with it.
Now if the apostle Paul is right, & if there are the two natures of good & evil battling within us, the crucial question is, "Which one is in control of our life? Which nature makes the decisions the angellic or the devilish?"