Good Morning Friends
Today we will continue with our lesson in our series of "Forgetting What Is Behind". Today we will start on chapter 5 titled "living the Christian Life…Is It My strength or His?
For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3-4
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. I Corinthians 1:25
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21
Any topic that relates to “Living the Christian Life” is a big topic to tackle. So our focus is not going to take in all aspects of the topic, but we will hopefully try and bring some insight into the humanly efforts that we as Christians struggle with from time to time in trying to “live the Christian life in our own strength”.
The Sinful Nature
Paul teaches that the fallen human nature is rebellious against God. We inherited this rebellious nature from Adam and, unfortunately, the root of it was not thoroughly destroyed when we became Christians. It is still within us, but even though it is still there, that does not mean we are forced to do what it says.
The flesh, that is (our human nature) is the motivator behind the selfishness we sometimes feel and act on in our sinful nature. Even though it is true that within our nature we have a strong “will power”, it is still not strong enough to keep us from sin and we only end up being frustrated in our attempts to not sin.
Even if we totally understand the difference between right and wrong, even that does not give us the power to keep us from sinning.
Jeremiah put it this way:
"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
The Corrupt Heart of Man
Scripture teaches us that man in his present fallen state is not basically good. He is deceptive and conniving! There is good in him but that good is corrupted. There is within our human nature a mixture of good and evil. Paul gives us a perfect example of this when he said, “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”. Romans 7:18.
Jesus also addresses this core issue when he said, “But,the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man unclean; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean’.” Matthew 15:18. Even the “good” in us cannot be trusted.
When Paul is teaching us about the “flesh”, He says there is absolutely no “good” in the flesh. He is of course referring to himself here but extending it to all mankind. He is not saying that man has no good in him at all, but that the good in him is flawed. He is emphasizing that the good that is there may be mixed with wrong motives deep within our heart.
Paul realizes “this about himself” when he ls referring to the verse in Romans 7:24. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
None of us like to think or even admit to ourselves that there is “no good thing” in us. But until we can truly understand and accept the fact that this is true about our humanity/flesh and fallen state, we will have difficulty accepting the fact that we cannot please God or do enough to earn His favor and love. We tend to feel better about ourselves if we believe there is only a little corruption within us and that with a little work we will be fine.
This way of thinking especially goes along with our American way of thinking…..work hard, take care of yourself, and when things get bad, pick yourself up by your bootstraps and go on. In fact, for us to think differently can be insulting to many and a stab to our dignity.
Paul’s personal battle with his flesh
Romans 7:14-25 demonstrates his personal battle with sin and his flesh. We will look at this piece by piece.
"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 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. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 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. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (Romans 7:14-25)
* Paul does not understand why “he does what he does”.
Paul finds himself struggling with his two natures. He wants to do what is right but is unable to carry it out. We can all identify right?
I understand Paul’s struggle here as I can relate, can’t you? We all have had times when we “know what we should do” but because of fear we shrink back and hope there is another way. I firmly believe that if we are born again believers, we will want to do what the Lord tells us to do and until we do, we will be miserable.
I also believe that there are people who have gone through bad experiences who have a distorted view of the past and the present and because of these experiences they “don’t know why they do what they do”. For those people they need Holy Spirit Revelation and the help of others to lead them to the root source of “why they do what they do”?
We will close here and next week we will continue with this topic as Paul continues to ask questions and search his own heart. We will begin with "What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." thank you for joining me and hope to hear from. Pass this on to your friends is you desire and I will be back next week.