A Hard Pill to Swallow

I struggle to obey my Lord and repent again. I nearly think I am hopeless. Could God have intentionally made it this hard?


I doubt that I am the only one who struggles with this. Recently, in an online devotional, The Pursuit of Righteousness, Gary Wilkerson confirmed that I am not. He wrote: “God will not bless an effort to establish one’s own righteousness.”


Is that what I am trying to do when I attempt to discipline my flesh? Certainly, it needs to be done, but why am I such a habitual failure at doing it?


Could the problem be my motive? If I could do this thing—which obviously I can’t—I would become proud and say, “If I can do it, so can you.” But I can’t make myself righteous or keep myself righteous. A simple, true, cold hard fact!


Wilkerson ends with these words, “This calls for a repentant heart and brokenness—a humble acknowledgement that His power alone restores us to right standing.”


To be honest, I have gone in circles for years. My journals are written testimony against me. So why do I keep trying? How many failures does it take to make the point? Albert Einstein said it well, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”


I can’t do it within my own power. Finally, there it is—a true confession, an acknowledgement of my utter helplessness to change myself. Depravity in a nutshell!


Depravity (dē-prav′ ə tē) crookedness; a depraved condition; corruption; wickedness.1


It just lies there in Webster’s dictionary, mostly unused and unwanted. It’s certainly not needed in the American culture—the land of plenty, of the educated, of the successful. This land where anyone can be all that they can be; the land of rights—individual, personal, equal—clearly the land of increase.


It is a hard pill to swallow—this word depravity. The flesh resists it with all the strength it has. The enemy of our souls will desperately try to talk us out of it—sidetrack us to somewhere else, anywhere else. Just don’t go there—not to depravity.


Yet, John the Baptist said this about Jesus:2


“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (KJV)

“He must become great; I must become less. (NIV)

“He must come greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (NLT)

“He must become more important, but I must become less important.” (ISV)


How much plainer must it be said? If we look closely with seeing eyes, one mystery of the Kingdom of God is opened to us. It’s the decrease that is so painful, so against the grain of our beliefs, our life-long pursuit for promotion. Yet, the clear call to Jesus’ followers is to decrease; become less; become less and less; and become less important.


We are so unaccustomed to the word depravity. It almost seems, well, you know—small—so undesirable, unattractive, and certainly not my desired destiny.


Think again. Jesus plainly told His followers their destiny: “Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.”3 Or, “whoever wants to be great among you must become your servant.”4


Depravity has a message of great value for us. We just haven’t seen it. No one told us to look for it, as if it is a despised word. Even in Jesus’ teachings, it eludes the proud, the religious, and those who lord themselves over others. But it is there, a clear message tucked within this inverted gospel.


Depravity makes the cross more understandable—yet that kind of love so non-understandable. We couldn’t do it for ourselves, so for love, Jesus did it for us. Why do I keep trying to accomplish something I can’t do and not fully accept that which has been done for me—my salvation and my sanctification?


Seek depravity. Chase after it. Hunger and thirst for its value. When you catch a glimpse, ask for more. Don’t settle for a glimpse; plead with God to see it fuller still. Grasp it. Embrace it. It is a long-forgotten, overlooked word that renders great treasures to our Christian lives. ~Janie Kellogg


1Webster’s New World College Dictionary; 2John 3:30; 3Matthew 16:24 (NIV); 4Matthew 20:26 (NIV)


Other Related Posts at Treasure in Earthen Vessels:  The Inverted Gospel – Archives – January 23, 2013; Just For Love It Was Done – Archives – March 20, 2013

4 thoughts on “A Hard Pill to Swallow”

  1. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that depravity was our sinful condition, and becoming less as Jesus becomes more and serving others are quite the opposite to depravity. I can’t see how they are they are crooked at all.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. You are not wrong. Depravity is our sinful condition, the one we inherited from the fall of man in the garden. It is also the one we can do nothing about to make ourselves righteous before God. Our only hope is in the work of Jesus on the cross. That is true for salvation and also for righteous living. Once we grasp that “in our flesh dwells no good thing” and that it was condemned and can never please God, we see ourselves as we really are. From that perspective (embracing our hopelessness) we can better see and appreciate the grace of God. It’s remembering where we came from, and not forgetting who we were and who we still are without Christ in our lives. Any confidence in our flesh is futile, even our best efforts. The dawning of depravity comes slowly, but it has revolutioned my Christian life and my attempted self-efforts to live for God. So much so, that I had to share it, even if it is a hard pill to swallow for all of us. Thanks again for your thought-provoking comment.

  2. This is Sheila Parker, Carol’s daughter. I’ve never responded to your emails before so, I felt it’s high time.

    First, I’d like to tell you how much I enjoy them. They are always on the spot regarding where I am in my life at the exact point of reading them. Ah, isn’t His timing amazing?

    Thank you for your humbleness, for seeking depravity and sharing it with us. I pray too for depravity, that I may decrease and He may increase. You have inspired me. What a beautiful light in this world you are. Shine on! Sheila

    1. Hi Sheila, thank you so very much for commenting on my blog. I was greatly humbled by your kind remarks. I get little feedback and it is so encouraging when I do. I just have to trust that I am writing what God wants said, and He is getting it to those who need to hear it. It is a continual challenge and I am still a work-in-progress learning as I live life and write it down. Depravity has just recently opened up to me and it is a huge concept that I’m trying to get my faith around. This truly is a journey we are taking together. I appreciate your support and prayers as the Holy Spirit leads us forward. You have blessed me much! God bless you~

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