Monday, July 13, 2015

A Puzzling Situation

Does the fact that something is illegal make it more appealing or desirable? Do rules against certain human behaviors make us more curious about the activity and entice us to try them?

I think this is true much of the time with us. Why is it that if something is forbidden, we almost automatically set out to learn more about it and consider doing whatever it is ourselves?

Now I know some of you are saying to yourself, "what is he talking about? If something is forbidden then I do not do that. There are reasons why it's forbidden. I would not even consider it."

To that I would say, "well good for you. maybe you can come over and walk across my swimming pool."

I do not have a swimming pool. I lied. Do not come over even to try.

Seriously though, you know what I'm saying. Maybe we would not try murder, but we might smoke a doobie or drive too fast on the interstate (preferably not at the same time). I have done both in the distant past. One deed was never punished, but I had to move to another state to get a new driver's license because of the other. And, by the way, people have been surveyed about the murder question. It seems that if they were guaranteed to get away with it, they would consider murdering someone. What is up with that? Human beings are really screwed up.

Rules invite scrutiny. Scrutiny can lead to questions about the legitimacy of the rules themselves. If we do not see the sense in the rules, sometimes we disobey...simply because we want to, or it suits a need or it serves a purpose. We weigh the potential outcomes and we decide we will deal with it when it actually transpires...or maybe we just throw caution to the wind and do what we want because we want to do it.

When you were a kid and you did something that was against the rules and suffered the consequences, did you ever say to yourself, "it was soooooo worth it!"

It's a fact. Laws and rules invite disobedience. It's why we have jails and courts and prisons. Rules and laws have penalties.

And that brings me to yesterday's sermon on Romans 7. Thanks Dave for that.

Even the likes of the apostle, Paul of Tarsus, understood the nature of law and how it can incite disobedience in the human mind. Even Paul struggled with the principles of life that God has set before us. Paul does not let us off the responsibility hook for our failures, but he does tell us that when we fail in our walk with God, it is God we must turn to in repentance. At the high point of our rebellion for whatever it is, we need to turn ourselves in and throw ourselves on the mercy of the court. It seems that someone else has already taken up our sentence for whatever it is and we can rely on Him for that mercy. That person is none other than His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul describes the situation thus:

Romans 7:15-25  

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.

And Romans 8:1-12
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

So, if you are a Christian and you are thinking that some rules just don't apply to you, think again. Then do your best to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. If you fail, turn yourself into the Judge. Make a deal. The civil authorities may lock you up, but the Eternal Judge of us all has mercy for those that seek Him..and if you are truly seeking Him, you probably would not be in trouble anyway right? He loves you. Just obey Him. It's easier that way. Really - it is. Take it from someone that knows.    

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