Friday, March 25, 2005

I Do the Very Thing I Hate

The struggle against our own flesh is so difficult and painful. So many times I know God's Word in my heart, yet it's almost like I watch myself do the very things I have been praying against doing, the things I hate, the things that keep me from knowing God more, resting in Him, and being at peace. I long to be transformed, renewed, but then I mess up and feel like I've been set back--like Christy said in a comment recently--at "square one." It's like I am at war with myself. Oh, wait, I am at war with myself!

Paul knew what I am talking about:

Romans 7:14-25
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know 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. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

This seems to be talking about the condition of man before Christ, and I think to some degree, it is. But you know what? That war is still going on inside me. I still desire to do right but find myself doing things I hate (I am not talking here about fornication, murder, etc., but about being easily angered, jealousy, quibbling, etc.).

If we are disciples of Christ, we are being transformed into His image, but sanctification is not a instantaneous occurrence; it's done over a lifetime of choosing to obey God, developing a closer and closer relationship with Him through and by His Spirit. Even though I can know I am a child of God (1 John 5:13), it doesn't mean that I don't struggle with my own putrid, clamoring flesh.

But God has opened up for me a Living Way through Christ. I don't have to be defeated by my own sins, by my own weakness. When I stumble, I can know there is a straight path next to me upon which I may regain my footing, and a Hand I may grasp. Praise God that I don't have to remain on the ground or in a pit:

Psalm 56:12-14
I am under vows to you, O God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.

Rom 8:1-8
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

I find myself battling the flesh and stumbling the most when I am not walking in the Spirit (I know, amazing revelation). When I get my eyes off Jesus and onto myself, almost right away I begin to sink like Peter on the water.

It brings me back, once again, to Jesus' own words:

Luke 9:23
And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'

I pray for all of us, that we would follow Jesus and take up our crosses daily, and that we will resist the devil so that he will flee from us. I praise the Lord for providing a sacrifice for sin so that I am not left in mine!

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