“But may it not be for me to boast if it is not in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”—Galatians 6:14
Oh how often we take this casually. We are made new in Christ, but so often we daydream back toward the sinful days of our past and forget the wretchedness of our life apart from Christ. I was reading the biography of John Paton recently. Paton was a missionary to the cannibals of the New Hebrides islands (and a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, I might add). One of the things that he described in his journals was the insatiable craving for human flesh that these cannibals had. The small island where he served housed no less than 10 warring tribes. These tribes would roast the bodies of the enemy warriors they had killed in battle. Their lust for flesh was so strong, though, that when fresh bodies were scarce and they had no enemies to eat, they would dig up the corpses of recently buried people to feast on their remains. Depravity begets depravity.
Yet, I would argue that we are not all that different. We might not be in the habit of digging up dead bodies to eat, but drug addicts often sink to that same level of desperation to get their next high. Gambling addicts mortgage their homes and steal from their businesses to feed their craving. Sex addicts will risk ruining their marriages and the lives of their children for one more night of illicit ecstasy. Work-aholics will miss every important events in the life of their family for the opportunity to make another dollar even when the things that money can buy can never match the value of a presence in the life of a child. Depravity begets depravity.
But we, by virtue of the work of Christ on the cross, are made new. We are no longer bound by the downward cycle of sin. Yes, we will still sin, but there is forgiveness in Christ and there is strength through his Holy Spirit so we can resist temptation. Light has been shined in the darkness of our sinful lives and for the first time we can begin to see the path that we are on, albeit dimly. Let us not look back, then, at the way our lives used to be. The Christian has no use for the depravity of his old man for depravity begets depravity. We are called to be Holy as God is Holy. The contrast could not be more drastic.