A man loses his way in the desert. The relentless sun scorches him. The hot wind saps his strength. In desperation he petitions heaven. “Lord,” he prays, “I’m about to die. Please lead me to water so that I can quench my raging thirst!” After wandering about for a few more minutes, the fellow happens on a natural rock pocket filled with clear water. “Never mind, Lord,” he says, “I found it myself.”
A man is lost in the desert of sin. Guilt and shame dry up his soul. Ungodly habits weather his face. In desperation he looks to God for life. Jesus says that “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). The Lord offers life, and the sinner believes. His parched soul eagerly receives the living water that Christ alone can give.
But after drinking deep from the wells of salvation, the sinner may begin to think that new life is his own doing. He smugly admires his improved character and revels in the pleasures of serving and giving. Why, he wonders, are other people so ignorant and foolish? Can’t they see the plain truth?
Such arrogance is inconsistent with true discipleship. Salvation is a gift that a person neither finds on his own nor ever deserves. Paul says that “we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures […]; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:3-5).