Yesterday I received the following response to my devotional from a sister in Christ:
“‘Will I awaken tomorrow seeking anew God’s will for me this day, or will I awaken ready to grab the bull by the horns only to find myself in the wrong pasture?’ That resonated with me Bro. Dave, as a ‘daughter of Eve’ I so often find myself with a mouth full of the forbidden fruit in my efforts to be like God by getting ahead of God’s will and trying to fix it the way my mind and emotions think would be the ‘best’ way. It amazes me how quickly I end up in the wrong pasture.”
Oh yes, too often have I found myself in the wrong pasture. Sometimes it is by accident…completely unintentional, but most times it is from my willful disobedience. I too often find myself feeling like Paul:
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Romans 7:15-20)
It brings me very little comfort that knowing I sin and grieve the Holy Spirit is a sign of my salvation and the ongoing spiritual battle. Before I got saved I was ignorant of the law and I delighted in my sin, but now this almost schizophrenic battle over sin makes me cry out:
“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)
If Paul had stopped writing there my salvation would seem utterly hopeless but alas and glory to God he kept writing:
“I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk 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, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 7:25 – 8:11)
Since I am in Christ Jesus I do not face the condemnation but I am expected to walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh. And if Christ is in me, my body is dead because of sin, but the Holy Spirit living in me is life because of Jesus’ righteousness. Will I ever begin living my life this way? Will I truly be crucified with Christ or is that just going to be another great Christian song I listen to and raise my hands in false praise and worship knowing all the while that part of me hangs onto my dead corpse like a refugee with his last possession?
Because I am an American, through our US Constitution, I have individual liberty. And because I am a Christian, through the debt paid by the blood of Christ, I have spiritual liberty. I do not need to live in bondage even though my spirit is a prisoner in my body; I can look to the future knowing this earthly sentence will one day be over:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-21)
So how do I get over this battle between my spirit and flesh? I have to remember that because I have the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, I am made me free from the law of sin and death. I have to remember that the Heavenly Father forgives me and is always ready to restore my relationship with him. I like the following verse from the late Keith Green’s song, Romans VII:
Lord how I know your tender heart must be broken,
By all those unkept promises I’ve made,
The question still prevails, please take away the doubt,
About how you forgive, and still you live inside when I fail.
That surely needs to become a prayer for me…Lord please take away the doubt.
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Copyright © 2009 David Jeffers