Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Powerful God

Romans 7:18-19 NIV

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.


"Romans 7 ...I always read it in the past as though the apostle Paul was describing a present reality for himself. "


I now see that Paul was not describing his present reality at all, but describing man in general when he struggles to live up to the law. The good news; the gospel, is that Christ died for our sins and our sin. Perhaps the description in Romans 7:18-19 seems to describe you, as it has me, but should it describe redeemed humankind? Lately, I think I've been mistaken in believing that.


Isaiah 53:5


But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.


Surely a new reality came into effect with the cross. Christ's death purchased our peace and healing along with our salvation.


Romans 6:6-7


For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.


Romans 8:1-3


Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering...


Romans 8:11


And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.


What does this mean to you and me? I believe that knowing and understanding truth is a powerful first step to living it out. Meditate on these verses as I have been. Then let us claim them for our live— by his Spirit.

8 comments:

Joyful Fox said...

Hi Belinda,

I'm stuck on this.

I know great freedom in the verse Romans 8:1-3 "...there is now no condemnation..and there is freedom because God sent His son.
Sometimes I can cycle with self-condemnation until His truth penetrates my natural mind.
Usually however I get to the place of new beginnings because His mercies are new every morning.

In that- I get we are forgiven and when we are convicted by our sin, we can know forgiveness and be cleansed from that unrighteousness. We can overcome the sin at war in us as soon as it is confessed.

I know in Christ we can have power to overcome the temptation of sin because He lives in us and greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.

But...maybe I'm missing the point. Is our journey in overcoming sin a process in some things? i.e. the man who struggles with pornography, the woman who struggles with eating and food addiction, or me who struggles with resentment or anger etc. Those battles are so slowly won. Moment by moment.

Example - o.k this afternoon I felt grateful and saw the blessing in a circumstance yet earlier in the morning I wallowed in my misfortune and didn't see the blessings God allowed in my circumstance.

Or...Am I fully missing the thrust of your message?

Sin in us is powerless as we are no longer slaves to it because we died with Christ on the cross (our fleshly bodies and thus the desires of the flesh) (Romans 6:6-7)

As we grasp that truth we "choose the life" that God gave us in Jesus and no longer struggle?

I am confused and am not sure if i'm just blundering. I think what you're saying is really there is no battle - it is done, finished, complete.

My struggle is - why is my reality like a roller coaster rides of momentary wins and losses and fighting along the journey?

I'll continue to grapple and meditate on these verses and maybe God will reveal more clarity and if you make it through the murkiness of my musings - maybe you'll shed more light on the thought process.

Love to you across that mighty pond!

Angcat said...

Dear B.,
I echo Joyful's musings and struggles. Looking forward to your reply.
Love A.

Belinda said...

Dear Joyful and Ang,
Yes, this is exactly what I too, wrestled with, and yet, as I read Romans 6-8 and then other scriptures from the paradigm of the "finished work;" a new creation, I had to ask whether it was my feelings or God's word that should be counted true. I know that we are agreed on that point! We may not always feel saved after all, but we are, praise God.


Perhaps the butterfly is a picture of this truth. She is there all along, but has to fight her way out of the chrysalis and unfurl her wings. I think that, as with being filled with his Spirit, we have to put on the truth of God's Word daily, to accept and claim his complete work of grace, and welcome the ongoing work of sanctification, which is the living out of his work DONE on Calvary.

I believe that Satan, as the serpent did long ago, still says to us, "Did God really...?"

When our reality does not match with his truth, then I am purposed to lay it at his feet and ask for it to do so in greater and greater measure.

So, I think that we are all on the same page, but it is always wise to seek God and consider what someone says against his Word.

The Sheepcat said...

This is an interesting speculation, Belinda, but the interpretation needs testing. A totally novel interpretation is likely to be mistaken. The true meaning of the passages in question can be fleshed out over time, but it cannot be overturned.

At best, the idea that Paul is describing a past reality in chapter 7 is supplementary to, rather than a substitute for, the idea that he is describing his present reality at the time of writing.

We are born into Original Sin, which among other things means our desires are disordered--wounded relative to the fullness God intends for us. "Concupiscence" is the technical term for the tendency Paul describes in 7:15-20.

Am I making any sense to you?

Susan said...

Some words from the flyleaf Mom's Bible:

"God does not want us to pray for victory. He wants us to enter into the victory that He has already provided in Chirst. (We became part of Christ's victory when we died and rose with Him.)"

Then, written in the margin on the same page as Romans 6 is:

"Rom 6:7 For HE who has DIED is freed from sin.

1Pet 4:1 He who has suffered death in the flesh has ceased from sin.

Rom 8:36 - For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long. We were cosidered as sheep to be slaughtered."

"This does not mean that we are not able to sin, but WE ARE ABLE NOT TO SIN."

That's what Mom thinks... :o)

Belinda said...

Dear Sheepcat,
These verses also spoke to me:
Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:20
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed ahave an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

What I'm seeng is that we have to make a moment by moment choice for the life of the Spirit to reign in us. Our flesh will always be at war with the life of the Spirit, but Christ overcame Sin and Death on the cross, therefore the more that we welcome his life in us, the more of the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in us. The key difference is that it is not by our striving or working at it that the victory comes.

Does this make sense?

The Sheepcat said...

Belated thanks for your response, Belinda. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure how much sense it makes, 'cause I'm tired, but I'm not going to have any time to look at this again for several days.

I'm not sure I see how the passages in your most recent comment connect to the original post. But you seem to be concerned mostly with defending a particular substantive assertion, whereas the basic point I was trying to make was methodological.

We can trust God to provide everything we need, and that includes the teaching of the truth handed down from the apostles. "Follow the pattern," Paul writes to Timothy, "of the sound words which you have heard from me."

I could say more but I'm trying to stay on topic!:-)

Belinda said...

Sheepcat, I understand why the passages seem disconnected. To me they connect, but it isn't an obvious connection, I admit.

My understanding of this topic of discussion is deepening daily as Paul and I get further in Watchman Nees book, The Normal Christian Life. This week we've read that we are baptised into Christ's death and so it becomes our death, but only as long as we are "abiding in" him. That is the battle, and the discipline, to abide. Out of that abiding grow the fruits of the Spirit as opposed to the works of the flesh. My main point is that abiding is different to striving. I see, and have done, a lot of striving, which is human effort and not what God is after. He has done the work. Praise God!