You Can Keep a Good Man (or Woman) Down
I’ve listened to people’s complaints more times than I liked to as they said “Jesus and Christianity just don’t work for me.” This is very sad but, in their experience, they were right. Possibly you have the same concern. So what went wrong? Were they lazy? Were they taught wrong? Did they have unrealistic expectations about who God is and what his role is to be in their lives? Were they failing to investigate for themselves what God says to them and for them through the inspired authors of the Bible?
There may be a little of all of that involved. But if, because of my faith in Christ, I am a new creature as 2 Cor.5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come,” just what is the disconnect?
I realize this next statement may sound a little weird, but it is true nonetheless. Faith is living as though God’s word (the Bible) is true even when I do not feel it is true. Friend, how many activities in your daily routine have you participated in without understanding how or why they operate the way they do? Apprehending the truth that we, in our old, sinful life-patterns have been crucified with Christ is not something that we necessarily feel, it is a truth we believe and must learn to act as though it is true. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) We must get our minds right and in conformity with what God’s word says about us.
The defeated Christian’s verse could well be Romans 7:15 saying “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Do you ever feel that way? The Apostle Paul is a great example for us. As he expressed in Romans 7:18-19, he struggled submitting his will to respond to the will of his new spirit, a spirit regenerated at salvation by the Holy Spirit. In verses 18-19 Paul says “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh (let’s think of the word flesh to mean unregenerate nature, not the new man or woman you are in Christ). 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.“ How many actors are in that verse? One!
Jumping down to verse 20, we see something new. “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me (is doing it).” Now we see 2 actors, “I” and something called “sin.” It is this entity, this power that wishes Paul (and us) to do the things we hate. Something that indwelled Paul (and us) wants us to rebel against God. This is not a “the devil made me do it” excuse. He can’t make us do anything, believer. This entity called sin suggests a rebellious, ungodly pathway. When we buy into sin’s idea, (and we have the power to choose not to since we are dead to sin, right?), the idea or pathway becomes ours and we do the very thing we wish we didn’t.
This is our daily battle and a hard one, appropriately acting dead to sin’s influence and alive to God’s Spirit and guidance. Paul continues in verse 21 to say “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members (mind and body) another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Well, so much for my efforts to encourage you.
But wait! Paul discloses the pathway to victory in verse 25 saying “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but (in contrast) with my flesh (well-worn, un-regenerated life patterns) I serve the law of sin.” He’s got his mind right, and he now chooses rightly according to God’s precepts. But Paul understands if he gives way to the rebellious, “Adamic” habits which once ruled his life and he was powerless to overrule, he gives in to the wretched body of death. When God says we are dead to something we must learn to respond like a dead person. Dead people do nothing! Since God says we are alive in Christ, we are to cooperate and allow him to express his life, his choices through us. Reading Romans 6 would be a great refresher for all of us. Let’s not allow Satan and his lies to keep good men and women down. Think About It.