Nothing is more certain . . . than to gravitate always . . . to thinking you are better than you are. The only thing standing between us and committing the worst of sins . . . is opportunity. We like to imagine that we have progressed in our spiritual walk and are becoming more aligned with the will of God; and indeed, it would seem we have, judging by our actions, behavior . . . . But that is only because the right circumstance hasn't (mercifully) presented itself. Every chaste person, given the right scenario . . . with a ready-made seducer, at the right time . . . will fornicate and/or commit adultery. This is why God judges the heart and not just the act. Under a certain perfect configuration of circumstances, the most devout will buckle and give in. If it hasn't happened, it is not because you are strong or able to resist, but only because, by the grace of God, He has not put you in that situation.
Same with cheating, stealing, blaspheming and murder. It is a great pastime of the self-righteous, which is all of us, to look at, for instance, people with money . . . fame . . . power . . . and condemn them for their deceits, licentiousness, greed, self-adulation . . . . And to profess that given the same money, fame and/or power WE would do only good things with such "blessings" and resources. We snicker and sneer at the worldly for their gross and obvious faults . . . yet, given the same privileges and assets, how long would it really before, to varying overt degrees, would we not also be indulging ourselves, our egos, our bodies? Even the dictators--the oppressors of the people--the mass murderers and those who imprison and torment others who do not follow, obey and conform to the megalomaniac's agenda . . . . We shake our heads disgustedly and judge them, while we have murdered just as many or more, in our own hearts . . . . And given the same upbringing, genetics, environment, we too could and would be just as insane and malevolent. There, but for the grace of God, would go we . . . .
It is not so much that "power corrupts" and "absolute power corrupts absolutely" . . . .
But, rather, that power merely reveals the corruption that is already in us. Absolute corruption, where, if any good thing is done by us, it is only because God provided it in us to do. Because "there is no one righteous, no not one" I must admit the "total depravity" of humankind, otherwise, if even there is a scintilla of "good" free will, then there is a scintilla of which to boast and God's perfect grace is diminished by just that much . . . which means His grace is not quite sufficient, but some little "good work" must be in there . . . .
Few things show so clearly the truth of these words than to watch when someone comes into money. Before, they were humble. They listened to others, searched for truth . . . appreciated their old friends and seemed well aware of their own weaknesses and faults.
But money or power comes along, and my how quickly things change! Soon we have an expert. We have someone who is easily offended and withdraws affections, using them to manipulate and control. Some dive into pleasure and gluttony and are not long alive, usually meeting a wasted, pathetic end. The more clever and disciplined begin philanthropic works to cover their growing self idolatry, where they can hide behind a veneer of piety, while they yet develop into only serving self despite the "spiritual" pretensions . . . .
One of the most liberating, joyous, actually powerful revelations . . . to be had, is when you truly realize the depth and utter completeness of your own sinful nature; how there is NOTHING you can do to save your self--that there is NOTHING good in you, of your self. And that, given the right opportunities, you would be just as bad or worse than people you often and so easily condemn.
It is only when we are weakest that we are made most strong. Only when we finally die to this lying, cunning, fallen self, that we begin to find real . . . life.
And to realize what love, what grace, what mercy . . . is involved . . . that He gave HIS life--suffered the Father's wrath, in our place, so that . . . wretches like us . . . might be saved!