Macbeth And The Search For Holiness

Why is the human heart so determined to grab hold of things which we have no right to? A simple look around our world will prove this point to be true. Having been to see the most recent cinematic production of Macbeth it is clear to see that Shakespeare understood this. The fatally flawed warrior who would be king is an excellent insight into the huge contradiction which runs directly through every person.

The struggle 

Although we may not be tempted to go around slaying people with claymore’s this tension is no less real. We have the capacity to do things of great beauty and act with a loving attitude toward others. But it is equally true that we also act so selfishly and become absorbed into our own thoughts that we become harmful to both our self and others. But most crushing of all is that this contradiction enters into our relationship with God. The very same day we praise God we also disregard his holiness and purity.

People are fatally flawed, something which Macbeth exemplifies all too well. When writing to the church in Rome Paul is clear about this and highlights where this conflict exists. Anyone who is a believer faces the conflict between spirit and flesh, the new person in Christ and the old, dead person before the work of Christ (Rom 7:21-25). Make no mistake this struggle is real and it exists for every believer in Christ.

The scenario

Try as we might to pretend that it is not the case the practical realities of our lives prove the truth of Paul’s statement. Take for example when it is late at night and we are bored, alone and sitting with our laptop or Ipad. Are our decisions always good and right, to the glory of God? Or if we are tired during the working week and someone is frustrating us. No sooner have we said something but we wish it could be taken back. Whats more, it usually is not communicated aloud, but in our own hearts. What about sitting in a coffee shop. Our eyes wander and no sooner have we let this happen but less than Christ glorifying thoughts are entertained and allowed to flourish.

In each of these situations we are grasping at things which are not good for us, things which we are not to take. But more often than not we do and what is even more damaging is that we try to justify it to ourselves. “I just needed a quick fix, a release”, “they are really annoying and I can’t be bothered with them”, “whats the problem, its just looking I’m not doing anything”. Macbeth just wanted to be king, nothing bad happened from that, did it? Adam Just wanted to be like God, nothing bad happened from that, did it?

The fight 

In that moment, wrestling with what he must do to become king, Macbeth contemplates and then succumbs to his own self absorbed thinking. He did not fight and by choosing this course of action was swallowed up by his own sin. Don’t fall for that trap. We must choose not to grab things which are not ours. We must choose to be content in what God has done for us.

Quite simply we like to take hold of things which are not good for us or are not ours. That is why, as believing people, we must fight in the spirit of life (Rom 8:2). On the one hand the life of following Christ secures the great truth that we no longer stand condemned (Rom 8:1). But on the other, it requires the proactive pursuit of holiness in our lives. We must realise that without holiness we will not see God (Heb 12:14). Even though it seems so good, fight it! Even though it may provide instant gratification, fight it! Jesus is more wonderful and all fulfilling. Jesus secures everlasting joy not temporary entertainment.

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