Monday, February 15, 2016

This Body of Sin

I trot out this old chestnut every time I sin or think about sinning. I think it's the way I justify my own thought life and behavior so that in some way my guilt is mollified in my own mind.  I mean, if even Paul had issues (see below), then me too. It's kind of a miserable attitude eh?

Romans 7:14-25a

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 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!

That last sentence sums up what it is that I am always looking for - deliverance. The questions then arises, "but have we not already been delivered and if so, what's wrong with our conversion?"

The fact is that we sin. The flesh is broken and we sin. It's why we need a Savior in the first place. The difference "should" be that as Christians, we now have a power to resist sin that we did not have prior to our conversion. This power is given by God. He actually gives us part of Himself - it's The Holy Spirit. This is why Paul says in,

Romans 8:5-13
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 the challenge for us Christians is to live by The Spirit. How do we do that to such a degree that we are free of the things of the flesh that still plague our mortal bodies? Paul also discusses this in,

Galatians 5: 13-18.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

So how do we walk by The Spirit; how do we follow His lead? 

That's a fair question that I always end up answering with more questions. How much do you love Jesus? How much do I love Him? I ask these things because the answer is pivotal to our success in the battle against sin in our mortal bodies. How so? What does our love for Jesus have to do with our fight against our own sin? 

If you love someone, do you not find yourself submitting to them in ways that you would not submit to someone else? Think about it. It's true right? Love is motivational in that it moves us to act selflessly toward the one we love. If we love Jesus, we will join Him in the fight to eradicate sin. After all, He suffered to set us free from the bondage of our own desires. Some like to say that He died for our sins. I prefer to think that He gave His life to set me free from the power of sin which is death. If we truly love Him, is it not incumbent on us to yield all our desires and urges to sin to His will?

So, again, how do we walk by The Spirit? 

It's not magic. There will be no mighty, rushing wind every time the desire to sin stirs. Instead you have to listen. There will be a voice. Sometimes it's a whisper. Other times its a loud scream to flee or get the heck out of whatever situation you have gotten yourself into, but He is there. He is trying to guide us. We have to listen. Some become deaf to His voice and that is unfortunate. Don't let that happen. Do not ignore those inner promptings and so become callous to His call to God's righteousness.

You will also find that spiritual discipline is required. We have to participate. We have to submit and subordinate our will to His. This is not easy if you've spent your life being a wild and untamed thing, but it has to be done. The result will be sanctification if done properly.

Are you ready to submit? Are you ready to yield and bend your will? Are you ready to grasp the power available to you and wield it in such a fashion that you always win? It's up to you. It really is up to you. Give Him your life so that you can live in victory, never wallowing again in the ashes of defeat.

I talk a pretty good game don't I? Let's see if I can play.     

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