It all started with this. When advised to say to myself, “I am perfect. I am a master.” my spirit cried out in protest.
The Peace Compass
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”
My wife and I call this the “peace compass”. This one verse can be a tremendous source of guidance in your every day life. When you come to each cross road, you can stop and listen for the peace in your heart. If it’s not there, if your heart has an “unsettled spirit” when you consider a future plan or decision, then perhaps the Holy Spirit is telling you not to do it.
That’s what happened to me that day in my home town. I read those untrue words and my peace compass went berserk with unsettled feelings. I knew I wasn’t perfect and I knew that no amount of lying to myself was going to change that.
No, I’m not perfect. I have a physical body and I live in a physical world. My spirit is in a constant struggle with my flesh and soul.
Looking at this musically, I have always fallen short of what I was capable of doing in my musical performances. Considering all those thousands and thousands of hours of practice time in my life, it was difficult to understand why I never accomplished more than I did.
But the life we build for ourselves in this physical world is subject to the rules of this world.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
One of the rules of this world is the rule that says that everything goes to chaos over time (loosely put). This is the main scientific argument AGAINST evolution but it is also applicable to our current discussion.
Building or crafting my own musical world for “self” was sort of like building a sand castle with dry sand. No matter how hard you try to shape a castle, it will continue to erode into a hill of sand. God and the Holy Spirit are like the water that holds the sand in place.
Like the sand of the castle, our music lives continue to decay and require constant work to keep them up. You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? There are famous quotes of people who say:
If I skip practice for one day, I know it. If I skip practice two days, the critics know it. If I skip practice for three days, the audience knows it.
And here’s another one:
For each day you don’t practice, it takes two days to get back to where you were.
Hey, this sounds like the Second Law of Thermodynamics to me! Why should we have to continue to practice so much and work so hard if the results of that practicing didn’t go to chaos without our constant attention?
These are the laws of this world. We live in a physical world where everything is constantly falling apart. Our houses and cars are subject to the second law and need constant maintenance and repairs. Our bodies fall apart over time and we eventually die. Everything in this world is working against us as we try to live our lives.
Are People Naturally Good or Bad?
This is an age old question and topic of great debate. The Bible has an answer that makes sense. It says that we have a physical body, a soul and a spirit. It also says that our “flesh” is the bad part of us, although, not in those precise words.
It is our flesh which desires to put ourselves over other people. Read this list of the “fruits of the flesh”. (Galatians 5:19 – 21)
adultery (sex outside of marriage)
fornication (sex before marriage)
uncleanness (extreme sensuality)
variance (deviance or rebellion)
seditions (causing disputes)
This particular list comes from the King James version and other versions have wildly different words for each of these. But the overall idea is the same. When you look at these and couple them with the converse of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22 – 23), you get a general picture of someone who “lives in the flesh”.
So, in answer to the age old question, “are we naturally good or bad?”, our flesh is what is inherently “bad” and we battle with this flesh nature each and every day.
The reason this is significant to An Expression of Grace is because this is part of the world we live in. We fight our bodies and our flesh daily. None of us are beyond it for as long as we live in these bodies with all of our lusts, desiring and cravings. We CANNOT have an inherently good nature until we replace our own physical nature with that of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The body must be submitted to the mind and the mind submitted to the spirit.
In this way, we are all in need of God’s grace in our lives. This is not just a musical thing. It’s an “every day of our lives” thing. This is precisely why the affirmation “I am perfect, I am a master” is all wrong for me as a Christian. I know the body I live in is not perfect. I know that no matter how well I live my life, I am still nothing without God’s grace.
As imperfect as I am as a man, I am at least as imperfect as a musician, if not more so. I strove for so many years to reach a level of competence and in some ways I was able to accomplish certain goals. But it was never enough.
And really, when you look at the fruits of the flesh, isn’t that one of the things they all have in common? It’s never enough to drink one beer. It’s never enough to just flirt. It’s never enough to just cuss someone out.
Satan gets a hold of us with these little things and then works his way deeper into our lives. We think we can handle the little things and we believe that those little things would never lead to the big things we know beyond a doubt are bad. But once satan has you in his grasp, he will lead you in his direction like a donkey drawn to a carrot.
Music is the same way. There is never musical satisfaction for as long as the music is an expression of the flesh. When the reasons you practice come from this world, there is never a lasting satisfaction. The flesh is never satisfied for long and you always end up falling deeper and deeper into indulgence.
I see this in musicians all the time. They are consumed with their music and it becomes almost a religion for them. It can sometimes be so extreme that those who are most dedicated cannot even have families. They shut everything out of their lives but their music. It’s really no different from a drug addict. All they can think about is getting that next music buzz.
Some people would see this as a good thing. I’ve actually known musicians who have replaced their drug addiction with music addictions and in some ways, yes it is a good thing in that respect. However anything that takes you away from Jesus is really a bad thing, whether it’s drugs or music.
Other Related Scriptures
II Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
We are not perfect. We are not even good. As long as we live in these bodies we will never be able to solve our problems with lies and false affirmations. We need something more than what we have on our own. We need God. We need His grace in our lives.
Questions for you to consider:
1) Are you perfect? Are you a master? Or is Jesus Christ the master of your life? Who do you serve?
2) Have you ever used the “peace compass” to guide you in your daily choices? Do you listen to the Holy Spirit for the little things as well as the big?
3) What evidence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics have you experienced in your life? Do you see the world around you falling apart? Do you notice the erosion on the mountains and the wind swept beaches? Do you feel your body getting older?
4) Do you need God’s grace in your life?