Tuesday, July 22, 2014

PLEASING GOD

Romans 7 shows us that we cannot please God in the flesh. The non-believer cannot do it, for he cannot live up to God's standards. Back in 3:20, Paul wrote "for by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight". Human beings just cannot live up to God's standards, as God demonstrated for us in Adam. In a perfect world with a perfect wife, Adam chose Satan over God and sinned. That also kills the nature verses nurture argument, I think.

But, the believer still struggles with sin. It is so frustrating. But it is comforting to see that Paul, the greatest Christian ever, understood it. The more he focused on the law, the more he struggled with the flesh. He finally cries out "wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death". (7:24) I think of this in the men I have mentored and counseled over the last several years. Several were addicted to pornography. They knew it to be a sin. They tried to avoid it, but they returned to it again and again.

The answer of chapter 8 is that, as Christ delivered us from sin and death in salvation. Yet, knowing that, we often return to our sins. When we do this, we are the true "Walking Dead". We walk around serving the dead man, the body of sin, rather than the Lord. Paul wrote that "the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for they are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do." (Galatians 5:17)

What is the cure? Chapter 8 says the cure is the Holy Spirit. We did not convert from a failed moralist who was going to hell to a failed moralist who is going to heaven. Rather, we came from living for the flesh to living in the Spirit. The Spirit continues to deliver us day by day in our new life.

But we have a part in this. The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. But the mind must be set on the Spirit. "For I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth". (Colossians 3:2)

The mind focused on God in Bible study, prayer, meditation\reflection, is a mind the Spirit can direct and protect. You will have life and peace. If your mind is set on earthly things (money, ambition, success, power, status, appearance, sex, pornography, drugs, revenge, personal gratification) you will sin and you will be unhappy.

Paul knew it to be true, both theologically and experientially.

So say we all.



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