This following story and teaching was shared with us recently by a dear friend:
Turtle and the rabbit Story
Here is a story that illustrates the lives of men before God.
Suppose that everyone is a rabbit. All of us hop around eating carrots and working hard to control our long furry ears. But one day, the rabbits heard that God is not going to allow rabbits into heaven. He only likes turtles and He wants turtles to be in heaven with Him.
So all of the rabbits are shocked to find themselves shut out of heaven because they are the wrong kind of animal. So, the rabbits got together and had all sorts of conventions and classes to learn how to behave like turtles! Many of them actually run down to the costume shop to obtain a very authentic turtle covering. They put on the shell and the green cloth skin covering. They work hard at practicing walking slowly; hiding their long ears and their puffy tails. There is a question though, is God fooled by their costumes and behavior? Doesn’t He know that they are, in fact, rabbits only disguised to look like turtles? And isn’t that behavior just a copy of the way turtles naturally behave? Of course, He who knows all things easily sees through the covering and knows their hearts. There is no changing the fact that they are rabbits inside! Therefore, the only way these rabbits can be accepted by God is to be miraculously changed into a different kind of creature; a turtle.
If that were possible and the rabbit accepted a turtle life from God as a gift, then God would surely expect the rabbit to have a changed character. He would no longer act as a rabbit, hopping and running around at full speed. What he eats, who he likes to be with, etc, would all change. He would naturally be slow, cautious, eating a turtle style diet, spending time with others of his kind.
Receiving an acceptable turtle life would automatically produce change in every area of the creature’s life!
This is a story to illustrate the plight of men. They are born into this world with the wrong kind of life, it is a “natural” and therefore temporary life. A natural man will always love himself and therefore only seek to please himself and in this way it is impossible for a man to please God no matter what “Show” he puts on. No matter what conferences he goes to and no matter how much he copies what he thinks is pleasing to God. Only a changed nature will be acceptable to God. That changed nature is only available through the gift of God of an eternal life through faith and submission to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:8 - 9).
This Eternal life that God gives as a gift is not a long life as many think of it. Instead it is the Kind of life God has. God is offering HIS LIFE in exchange for OUR LIFE. And if we say that we’ve received this new Eternal Life, surely there should be change in all areas of our life.
Unfortunately, it seems that many people don’t want to be changed. People simply want to be forgiven of their sins or have their situation changed and then live life in their way, the way they want. The thinking tends to be that they have accepted God’s forgiveness through faith in Christ, isn’t that enough? But God has forgiven us for having the wrong kind of life (One that sins), so that he can offer HIS LIFE in replacement of it. God wants children who are able to live with Him and to walk with Him sharing the same kind of life He has. Therefore, change is expected!
Consider another illustration, this one of a lion and a lamb. Is it possible to transfer the life of a lamb into the life of a lion? No, but If it were possible, the lion would behave in the way that a lamb does. The lion would stop chasing after unsuspecting antelope preferring instead to stand in a field chewing away at mouthfuls of delicious green grass.
What we cannot imagine, God can do! He can give a roaring wild one the life of a lamb. When we are born again we are like a lion that has received the lamb, Christ.
Can it be seen by my behavior what kind of life is now in me?
A peach tree with no fruit is of no value, unless it will produce peaches it is not worth the trouble to cultivate it. God is looking for one outcome or affect of the new, eternal life in us, that is the fruit of the Spirit.
The joy of the Lord is my strength (Psalm 28:7). God’s joy is my obedience. How am I living? Do I seek only to please myself or am I realizing my worth to God in obedience? Therefore, God’s joy is my obedience. This brings me strength to obey and to endure.
James 4:1 - 4 If there are arguments and quarrels among you it is because you are not getting something that you want. If we have Jesus, what more do we need than Jesus? If I have Jesus’ life, then the life that I have is eternal. What more do I need? More over, if I am not an enemy of God, do I lack anything? Is God weak? Is He unable to help me?
Is your God a “T-Rex” God? Meaning, he’s big, he’s strong, ...but his arms are too short to help.
Jeremiah 32:17 Proverbs 28:9
God made everything by His outstretched arm, is anything too hard for Him?
It is an abomination, or detestable, to turn from hearing the law. If I don’t want to hear the law, I don’t want to hear what God has to say to me. “The Law” is not a list of rules, but it is the full counsel of God’s word.
God is ready to answer our prayers. The question is, are we ready to respond to His requests toward us? Am I submitting to the Spirit so that I will have the right motive in my request?
Imagine a well underground that has pressure forcing the water out, if the faucet proceeding from that well only drips then something is blocking the progress of the water.
Love of self inhibits the flow of the Spirit of God. The water represents the Spirit. It is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. Therefore if we have the “Well” of living water (The Spirit), there should be evidence. The evidence is fruit of the Spirit. That indicates a changed life.
Therefore, Eternal Life is the Kind of life God has. It is to be lived now, by faith in Christ and in God’s power to change me.
God is looking for the fruit of a righteous life - not the fruit of the flesh (see James 3: 16-18)
Answering questions regarding the work of Christ as described in the Book of Romans:
Romans 5:12 - 14 Before sin, Adam is spiritually alive - so in the beginning he was the son of God, having the same kind of life God has..
After sin, Adam is spiritually dead - he has a broken relationship with God. He is spiritually dead because he disobeyed.
It is like he has a hole in his heart (Adam does). ú He is empty of God because he chose to turn from God.
Adam chose to sin, he did not want to follow God. The result was spiritual death for all men.
Men can only live a natural life, separated from God. They cannot gain back the Spiritual life that Adam willingly gave up!
Now all men have no choice but to sin because they are
born spiritually dead.
It is like gravity.
The “force” in Adam’s children is called spiritual death.
A ball will naturally roll down hill; it has no choice because gravity has power over the ball. In the same way, spiritual death is the cause of sin, people sin because it is the natural function of spiritual death. They have no choice.
When men receive the Holy Spirit, they are born again, new birth causes men to be changed. In Christ, with the Holy Spirit, men have the power to obey God.
Adam had the power to obey but he chose to sin.
Remember, the problem (the root problem) with a man is not that he sins. The root problem is that he is spiritually dead, that causes him to sin. Consider I Corinthians 15:56 - 57 and also verses 53 - 55.
What made Adam choose to sin? God wants His children to willingly love Him back. God puts them in the garden, God puts the tree in the garden. Eve sees the fruit on the forbidden tree, she thinks it looks good, she thinks it will give her what she needs to live (wisdom). Satan entices her to continue her thinking. Adam sees that when she eats the fruit she didn’t “die” in the way he was expecting so he ate it too.
Romans 5:12 - 13 what is the proof that death spread? Everyone is sinning.
The problem is people didn’t understand so God didn’t hold this against them.
The Law then teaches them (and us) what sin is....exactly what sin is according to God.
Romans 5:14 still sin is reigning before the law, in the time between Adams life and Moses. God has to pay for sin but more than that He needs to change me so that I have the power to NOT sin.
Why did Jesus have to die?
He died for our sin, by this He paid the debt we owed for our sin.
He rose to give men new life, His life in exchange for my temporary mortal life. He lives to give me the power to not sin.
If I don’t live out the life He gives me, I will not be free from sin.
That is why...
Romans 6:1 - 4 Romans 6:12 - 14
A slave to obedience requires a denial of self. I have to be willing to disappoint my flesh.
Okay, it is true, if I make a mistake in my walk grace will cover my error. But I must intentionally walk toward sinning less. In the flesh I may never be perfectly sinless but if I love the Lord, God gives me the power to sin less. This is His grace.
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This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!