Jeremiah 13:23 (HCSB)
“Can the Cushite change his skin,
or a leopard his spots?
If so, you might be able to do what is good,
you who are instructed in evil.”
Our character, the basis of who we are, the mechanism by which our lives are governed, is grossly flawed. The New Testament writers refer to that mechanism as “the flesh.”
Romans 7:18 (HCSB)
“For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.”
Just as Jeremiah quoted God in asking rhetorically whether the Cushite could “change his skin,” or if the leopard could do the same regarding “his spots,” Paul points out the obvious answer, “there is no ability to do it.” It is why God, in comparing the ability to do good with a Cushite’s or a leopard’s ability to change their flesh, is so powerful. God’s point is, if the Cushite and the leopard had such ability, then those “who are instructed in evil,” “might be able to do what is good.” But, they cannot, just as the the Cushite and the leopard cannot make such changes.
When the Pharisees challenged Jesus’ authority, Jesus then retorted by pointing out that the devil, who is their authority, “speaks out of his own character.”
John 8:44 (NASB)
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
This is a very important concept to grasp. The devil speaks out of his own character, and he is “a liar and the father of lies.” Paul admits that there is “no ability” within him to do good. God said that “those who are instructed in evil” are as able to do good as a Cushite is able to change his skin or as the leopard his spots. In other words, who one is determines how one will be. Who we will be or who are, is demonstrated by our character… and that character is flawed.
Because, we are what we are born of:
John 3:6 (HCSB)
“Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
The disciples, shocked by Jesus’ answer to the “rich young ruler,” to sell all that he had and to also follow Him in order to demonstrate a Godly character, recognized the impossibility of such. But, they were then consoled by Him when He told them where such ability lies…
Matthew 19:25-26 (HCSB)
“When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””
Such is what we need to remind ourselves of everyday…
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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