Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 29, 2011 … The Believer and Indwelling Sin

Passage of the Day: Romans 7: 14 - 17 … 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.

My Journal for Today: John MacArthur, in today’s entry from Strength for Today, begins with a stark statement – almost a warning. He writes, “Believers (in Christ as Savior/Lord) have been freed from sin’s power, but not from its presence.” And as a Christian, like myself, I’d almost bet you readers here with me just said, “AMEN!”

In the garden at Gethsemane the night before His passion on the cross, Jesus warns His disciples to watch and pray as they deal with the temptations of sin. He said, and we read it in Matt. 26: 41, “… the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

Again, do I detect another “Amen?!”

Well, nowhere in Scripture is this feeling of inadequacy in dealing with sin more apparent than in the soulful lamentation of Romans 7: 14 – 25, linked here from which today’s passage was extracted. Some have wondered how a mature, experienced Christian, let alone an Apostle, such as Paul was feeling so weakened when he wrote that passage. How could he pen such a message of self defeat? And you may ask how Paul could follow the languish of Romans 7 with one of the greatest declarations of Christian victory and power over sin in the New Testament – found, of course, in Romans 8. Well, I used to wonder that too, until I finally realized that Paul was using a rather standard preaching/teaching technique in Romans 7 – the use of self identification to persuade his writers about the importance of the matter he was describing, and that is the retained presence of sin in the life of any Christian. And to that all of us Christians again would say, “Amen,” wouldn’t we?

In today’s passage, we see Paul, the converted zealot for Christ, describing himself as one who must continually deal with his own weaknesses when it comes to his own sin nature. Who cannot identify with such weakness – the seeming inability to do what God would have us do in avoiding sin? But Paul, in writing Rom. 7: 14 – 25, was merely setting the stage for his great and powerful treatise on Christ’s victory over sin and our power, in Christ, to overcome its presence [i.e., Rom. 8].

So, as we read and identify with Paul’s life-long struggle with his own sin nature, we should never forget that, as Christians, we should be living in the reality of Romans 8 rather than the lament of Romans 7. And we can [!]; but we must, as Paul also writes in Romans 13: 14, “ …clothe [ourselves] with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." And assured by the truth of Romans 8, we can do just that in the power given to us by Christ and His Spirit, allowing us to put off the rags of sin (as we read in Colossians 3) and to put on Christ’s robes of righteousness, given to us freely by His grace and through His Spirit.

What about us, as Christians? Are we choosing to live in Romans 7, giving quarter to our sin nature, … choosing to wear those sinful rags? Or are we choosing to live in Romans 8, where we can wear Christ’s glorious Robes of Righteousness, showing the world that our surrender to Christ is our power over sin?

My Prayer Today: Well, today Lord, I choose to live and walk with You in the truth of Romans 8. Amen

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