The Gospel According to Yoda
Recall with me to the scene in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” when Luke Skywalker travelled to Dagobah to train with the “great warrior,” Yoda, to become a Jedi. The following scene takes place after Luke’s X-wing sank down into the swamp and he grumbles in defeat about not being able to get it out. Listen to the scene unfold between them:
Luke: Oh, no. We’ll never get it out now.
Yoda: So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?
Luke: Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different.
Yoda: No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.
Like: All right, I’ll give it a try.
Yoda: No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.
(Luke concentrates on lifting the ship out with his mind, but he was unsuccessful)
Luke: I can’t. It’s too big.
Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hm? Mmmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we…(Yoda pinches Luke’s shoulder)…not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you… me… the tree… the rock… everywhere! Yes, even between this land and that ship!
Luke: You want the impossible.
(Yoda stands on a tree root and guides the fighter carefully down toward the
beach using the Force. Luke stares in astonishment as the fighter settles down)
Luke: I don’t…I don’t believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail
I see so many parallels to the Christian faith from this dialogue. Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly concerning 1) sin, 2) the Holy Spirit, and 3) the gospel promise of God. These three major points are described in the Scriptures to be pivotal for the assurance of a right relationship with God in salvation through Jesus Christ.
The first thing we notice in this scene is that Luke is successful in using the Force to overcome small tasks like moving small rocks, but when he faces a much larger task like lifting his X-wing from the swamp he immediately doubts himself and grumbles, “it’s too big” when he fails. It seems that over the last two millennia the false doctrines and teachings that “everyone sins” and “we can’t stop sinning” and “if we could stop sinning we wouldn’t need Jesus” have overwhelmingly influenced the Church especially the last century. But what is Yoda’s reply to Luke? “No! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned. […] Do or do not. There is no try.” These words of Yoda speak so much truth and wisdom that I can hear Jesus’ own words concerning sin.
In the Gospel of John, a woman was caught in adultery and presented before Jesus, He didn’t say to her “Go and sin less,” but rather He said “Go and be sinless,” or as it’s commonly translated, “Go and sin no more.” Jesus said the same to another man who was an invalid for 38 years except He added a stern warning. Jesus healed him and said, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14b). First thing I think of when I hear this is “what is worse than being an invalid for 38 years?” The worst I can think of is separation from God in hell. Isn’t that a bit extreme though? Well, Jesus was more specific and blunt in His sermon on the mount:
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
– Matthew 5:29-30
Jesus died that we may receive forgiveness of sins. However, forgiveness of sins is only applied to the sinner through repentance of sins (through faith, of course) making them a former sinner. Repentance from sin means to turn away and forsake them.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
– Proverbs 28:13
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
– Acts 10:34-35
The forsaking of sins is not merely being sorry over them or even occasionally having victory over them. If I commit the act of adultery today, realize my guilt of sin, pray to God and “forsake” it, then next week do it again…and around and around we go…is that repentance? Paul said, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
From this we can affirm that worldly grief is to grieve over your sins without tearing out your eye and cutting off your hand that you may sin no more. Blind people can’t lust. Handless people can’t steal. Please, don’t disfigure your body, but go to extreme lengths to preserve your soul that you may resist temptation and be delivered from evil and sin. You haven’t turned from sin until you have stopped. Don’t believe the lie and say to yourself, “Did God really say?” as the serpent said to Eve. Don’t believe the lie that says that Jesus really meant for us to “go and sin less” as oppose to what He actually said, “go and sin no more.” I recall an old saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
God’s New Covenant promise to us is to free us from sin and to give us a way out of every temptation to sin. So, we either are victorious over temptation and sin, or we make God to be a liar. The other alternative is that we lie to ourselves and each other to believe that God is ok with our occasional sin and that He’s not able to keep us from the spots and blemishes of the world. It is written, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 1:24). God will always provide a way of escape from the temptation of sin:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
– 1 Corinthians 10:13
God is faithful. O’ Bride of Christ, will you return His faithfulness with your own faithfulness? The greatest evil and threat against Christ “present[ing] the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” is the lie told over and over that we cannot completely escape the snares of sin—that everybody sins (quotation from Ephesians 5:26-27). But in the end it’s not a threat against Him but against us who may be deceived—the chaff among the wheat, the goats among the sheep. The stipulation is that the deceived don’t know that they are deceived. Therefore, examine yourself, test yourself, compare not yourself to one another, but compare yourself to the Word of God lest you fail to meet the test (see 2 Corinthians 13:5 and 10:12). Unlearn what you have learned. We will uncover more on God’s promises later.
The second thing we notice from this scene is the source of Yoda’s power. He renounces his ability to lift heavy objects through his flesh. He confessed that his power came from outside of himself: “For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is.” What a great example we have that points to our own weakness of the flesh and having power and strength from the Holy Spirit. The apostle John boldly states that “Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). For years I heard distorted interpretations of this passage based on people’s experience versus the authority of Scripture in order to ease their consciences.
We must be diligent to seek the truth and be open of the possibility that many have it wrong. We must lean not on our own understanding and experiences but trust in God and His Word. In our struggle against temptation and sin, we will quickly realize and agree with Paul’s confession that “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18). But elsewhere he gives us hope and tells us to “walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:18).
Lastly, Luke Skywalker was amazed in disbelief when Yoda successfully lifted his X-wing from the swamp saying, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda’s epic rebuke was “That is why you fail.” Perhaps, the reason the church is unable to be completely free from their iniquities is because they are told and thus believe that they are not able to be free from their iniquities. Our greatest weapon in overcoming sin is our faith—to believe in the promises of God that we indeed can and that we must overcome the sins that ensnare us and condemn us. What we believe, our theology, will directly correlate into how we live. Listen to God’s promises announced from the Old Testament. Receive them and walk in them with boldness:
I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
– Jeremiah 24:7
With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
– Jeremiah 31:9
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
– Jeremiah 31:33
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
– Ezekiel 36:27
Now, let us look at God fulfilling those promises through Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Again, receive God’s promises and believe that they are meant for you to walk in the victory of righteousness:
[Jesus Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
– Titus 2:14
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
– 1 Peter 2:24
And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.
– Revelation 1:5
How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
– Hebrews 9:14
That he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
– Ephesians 5:26-27
The one who commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
– 1 John 3:8
So you see, you must see, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is to eradicate sin in order to reconcile us to God. It’s not enough to be counted righteous through our first moment of faith. “For the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9). We only have to look at many of Jesus’ parables to see that “many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Many will answer the call but few will fulfill the call. So go, and fulfill what Scripture calls and demands us to be: “you shall be holy, for I am holy,” to “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” to “do righteousness as He is righteous,” and “purify yourself as He is pure” (Matthew 5:48, 1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:3).