Everyday, I am reminded that this life is not about me. I catch myself sometimes slipping into the world’s view that I “need” stuff. I fight it. My attitude becomes negative, and I get rubbed the wrong way by sandpaper people. I have to battle it. The longing of my heart is to give it all to Christ. I desire to be in His will with all that I am. As crazy as it sounds, I desire for it to cost me something. I want to get away from the distractions surrounding me; to find a place where I am consumed with His will for my life. Not that I am not now, but I have to work hard to not be taken over by my everyday tasks, Facebook, or work. Even ministry, competes for my attention. I feel pulled in a hundred directions at times. I feel less than proficient at many things. I have to fight for what is important. I have to make time for Christ because if I don’t, I will not spend time in His glorious presence. How sad…
I am at war within myself. I wish it weren’t so. I know, however, that I am not alone. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us, “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.” (Romans 7:14-25)
This seems grim. It is. We are at a loss against our own sinful nature. We can struggle, but we will never win. Our carnal flesh overpowers us. God’s law is “spiritual” and perfect. Even when we are believers, we can not keep it all. The law, however, was never meant to stand as a set of rules we must check off. Scripture says, “For through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20b) It was meant, then, to show us that we need a Savior! God provides His son, Himself, as that Savior.
He doesn’t leave us in this terrible state of mire. He saw our plight, and looked down with ultimate love and compassion. “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:1-10)
We are in a process of sanctification. We will not be complete or perfect until we enter Heaven. As followers of Jesus, however, we must fight the battle against our flesh. The solution is to bring our bodies under submission to our hearts and minds. We know what is right. We can not give in to what is wrong. Paul writes, “Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27) Disciplining our body takes action, consistency, and pain. This verse comes at the end of a passage where Paul is comparing our spiritual journey to a race. Running a marathon takes conditioning. It takes discipline. It involves pain. We are waging war on our natural tendency to be evil and do nothing.
We can not live our Christian lives as though when we do not read our Bible, pray, or share the Gospel that we will simply fall into a life of imitating Christ. We won’t. It takes more than effort. It takes a real struggle. We have to overcome our natural tendencies, and live for Jesus. We can not do it on our own. It has to be Jesus in us. He is the only good.
Do you find yourself haphazardly going through the motions? Is it easier to watch your favorite television sitcom than read a chapter of God’s Word? Do you find yourself running and crying out to God only in times of trouble? You’re not alone. You are human. Make a change today, however. Step in to the boxing ring, and get fit. Seek Christ, and let Him make you holy. Let Him use you for His good work. Blessings to you all as always!