2006-03-29 - The Two Faces of Lord Byron
Romans 7:21, "I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good."
If you ever visit Trinity College at Cambridge University in England you may come upon the statue of Lord Byron. If you look at his face, you might remark that he had the appearance of a genius. There is an intellectual awe that simply proceeds from the image that the artist conveyed in his countenance, that is impossible not to notice. However, if you examine the statue a little closer and look at the back of it, you will notice another face instead of the back of his head. Looking at this image, you might think, "What a demon this man was." He has a scowl and leer that could make the demons themselves blush. This is exactly what the artist of the statue was aiming to express. He wanted to show the great intellect of the man, and yet also show the soul of a man who was a mass of sin.
To some extent, we all have a little of this nature in ourselves. As much as we might seek to avoid it, we all have two sides, of to follow the illustration, two faces. It is the process of sanctification that helps the Christian to more and more put on the gracious face, and let the face of indwelling sin evidence itself less and less. But this is a process, and it is not done overnight. We don't simply say the sinner's prayer, and hocus pocus, never get angry again, never struggle with greed or covetousness, etc., and live in spiritual victory the rest of our lives. It is much like the artist carving the stone that made the statue of Lord Byron when he created it. We chip away at our indwelling sin. We slowly put off the sin nature and seek more faithfully to live unto Christlikeness.
There seem to be several methods today that Christians deal with indwelling sin. One is to deny it is there. This is the mindset that always tries to look at the bright side and ignores the harder aspects of transforming our lives more and more unto Christ. This is like only looking at the front side of Byron's statue. The reality of the back side, the dark side, is passed over, and by passing it over, we pretend it is not there. Anyone who is honest will admit that this dark side exists, and to ignore it only fools others for a short time. We are never really fooled ourselves, because we know our hearts. We might as well put our hands over an open flame, smile and say, "It's not hot."
Another way of dealing with this other face is to know that it is there. This makes us vulnerable in some respects, but it is the first step in dealing with our sinful hearts. We can let others know our struggles, but this is not the primary way we address indwelling sin. Our first business is to take the hardness of our hearts, the white lies we may tell others to make ourselves look better, whether they be sins of omission or sins of commission - and seek the Lord. Here is where we stick the knife into sin. We begin through prayer. We seek the Lord, admitting our failings, and beg His help for the future. Many have said it, but the statement is very true, that sin will either keep us from prayer - or prayer will keep us from sin. As we develop the habit of confessing our sins to the Lord in prayer, we will see more sins than we never even thought about and confront them also. This is a great part of the process of living for Christ and dying to self (sanctification). Opening our hearts to the Lord in prayer and asking for His guidance will open our hearts to ourselves also.
Lord Byron would not have wanted to be remembered as he was with his statue. What would we have our legacy be? Two faces? Of course not. So today, I urge you to bring the Lord into the sanctification process. We will not surprise Him when we say, "I failed here." We might surprise ourselves when we also say, "Lord, help me to grow through this, and may my thoughts, actions, and desires conform more and more to what you would have them to be."