JEKYLL & HYDE CHRISTIANS
Modern culture adopted the phrase "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" to describe split personalities, but few today know the details of the 1886 novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. I once assumed the evil sounding name Jekyll must belong to the murderous personality and the kinder sounding "Mr. Hyde" belonged to the good side of the character. The opposite of course is true. Dr. Jekyll (pronounced Jēe-kul) was a fine upstanding member of society, deeply troubled by his antisocial impulses. He found it very difficult to suppress his anger and contempt for others, so he worked at creating a potion which would separate him from his distasteful tendencies.
While modern portrayals of the evil Mr. Hyde tend to make him larger than life, Stevenson wrote Mr. Hyde as a smaller man than Jekyll. Hyde was bent over, elusive, and cruel. Dr. Jekyll found Mr. Hyde quite delightful at first because his fight with morality ended completely when Mr. Hyde came out. Jekyll considered his good-doctor personality a disgusting fake, always pretending kindness and happiness while his heart felt impatient with others and full of disgust at their imperfections.
At evening, Dr. Jekyll would drink his potion, setting himself free from moral inhibitions, unleashing Mr. Hyde to go out in the city and satisfy his lustful desires without the hindrance of a conscience. Eventually Jekyll no longer needed a potion and transformed into Hyde whenever he wanted. Mr. Hyde finally murdered an innocent man though. Jekyll was horrified and decided to suppress Hyde by staying busy with good deeds and charity work. Jekyll succeeded so well that he finally congratulated himself for becoming a better man than anyone else in the world by doing far more good than others. In that moment of self-congratulation, Mr. Hyde returned. Soon Hyde drove Dr. Jekyll into committing suicide to try to kill Hyde. A letter was found by Jekyll's body though, signed by Mr. Hyde, stating, "I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end."
CHRISTIAN JEKYLL & HYDE
Like Stevenson's story, many of us live today like two different people. We sincerely try to live moral lives, but find ourselves living opposite of our God-given desires. Taking a few liberties with Romans chapter seven, we find Paul saying something like, "So now it is no more I, Dr. Jekyll who sins, but Mr. Hyde. For I know that in me, that is, in Mr. Hyde, no good thing exists. For good desires are inside me, but I don't find Dr. Jekyll doing that which is good. For the good which Jekyll desires, I don't do; but the evil which I don't want, Mr. Hyde does. But if Mr. Hyde does what I don't want, it is no more I, Dr. Jekyll who does it, but Mr. Hyde who dwells in me. For I delight in God's rules as Dr. Jekyll, but I see sinful rules in my body, warring against Jekyll, and bringing me into the captivity of Mr. Hyde's authority. What a wretched man I am! Who will liberate me from Hyde's body? I thank God through King Jesus our Lord. So then I, Dr. Jekyll, obey the laws of God, but Mr. Hyde obeys the law of sin.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for Dr. Jekyll as one who lives in King Jesus, not obeying Mr. Hyde, but obeying the Spirit. For the rules of the Spirit of life in King Jesus liberated Jekyll from the authority of Hyde and of death. For what God's rules could not do, weakened by Mr. Hyde, God did by sending His own Son (looking like Mr. Hyde) and condemned sin in Hyde; so that the rules of God's law might be fulfilled in Dr. Jekyll who walks not after Mr. Hyde, but after the Spirit."
THE BETTER ENDING
Stevenson's story of Jekyll and Hyde ended in suicide because Jekyll had no power over Hyde. Paul's version ends much better, saying King Jesus defeated our Mr. Hydes and our King's Holy Spirit now lives in us and rules us. Paul reminds us in verse five to define ourselves as people born of the Holy Spirit, not just born of flesh. 1John 5:1 says, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the King is born of God." Jesus told Nicodemus, "Most assuredly I tell you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Those of us who believe Jesus is the Psalm 2 King of Kings have been born of the Holy Spirit. We have the option of surrendering our bodies, minds, and actions to the King's Spirit who is far stronger than Hyde. The uneducated Christian focuses on Mr. Hyde all the time, trying to avoid him, believing Mr. Hyde will eventually win. The educated Christian knows instead what Romans says. Educated believers count themselves just as Romans 6:11 commands us to count ourselves. We do not focus on Mr. Hyde (sin). We don't even focus on Dr. Jekyll (our ability to do good). We focus instead on our King and on the Spirit of the King. We count ourselves as citizens of the King, clothed in the King, and born of His Holy Spirit. We count Mr. Hyde as dead and a new person created. As Romans 8:13 says, "By the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body." Or in Robert Louis Stevenson's terminology, "By the Spirit you put to death the deeds of Mr. Hyde."
God, I'm so grateful to You for crucifying Mr. Hyde with the King. Thank You for counting me as acceptable in the King, born of Your Holy Spirit, and clothed in my King. I count myself those things too. Daddy God, here are my body-parts for Your use. Let's do this, Dad!
And so in Romans 12:1-2, Paul urged us to "present" our body-parts as living sacrifices to God. Then he told us to stop being conformed to this sinful world and to "renew" our minds. Paul closed verse two with the promise that by these two actions of presenting ourselves and counting ourselves as new creations, we would demonstrate God's good and perfect intent. All believers can cast aside our Mr. Hydes by presenting our bodies to God (rom 12:1, rom 6:19) and by renewing our minds (rom 12:2, rom 6:11).
"Jekyll & Hyde Christians" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on September 11th, 2013. All rights are reserved.