August 2, 2010

To Live is Christ — choosing His hand over my foolishness

Now and then a professing Christian makes headlines for falling into sin. The world expects us to behave ourselves. If we do not and our sin becomes public, we can expect a public outcry. Those who are not Christian assume that we who follow Christ should never sin.

However when I sin, I am often as dismayed as anyone else. I know that God gives me the ability to obey Him. I want to do His will. Why do something contrary and sinful? I’m so blessed when I obey, but when I don’t, I am angry with myself. I’m also puzzled. Why did I do that? Sin makes no sense to me. The apostle Paul may have felt the same way when he wrote this:

The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me. So with my mind I serve the Law of God, although my selfish desires make me serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:21–25, CEV)
In other parts of the New Testament, Paul calls those sinful desires “the flesh.” This is my tendency to do my own thing. It comes from that part of human nature that everyone has, the part that permeates our entire being and separates us from a Holy God. The perplexity is this: when God saved me and made me a “new creation” He did not replace that sinful self. When Christ came to live in my heart, why didn’t He destroy all of that?

Salvation saves me from sin’s penalty and gives me power to choose. Nevertheless, it is still present and still affects me. It is that “something” that keeps me from doing what is right, and that forces constant choices. I have the new nature given in Christ, and I have the flesh. Which will I follow?

Galatians 5:16-17 describes this choice. It says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

I cannot do good apart from the power of God. I can only yield to that power, trusting Him to lead me in a good path. Faith understands that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, but faith cannot always see the reason for or the results of obedience. The sinful human flesh sometimes thinks, “I know better.”

This is the root of sin in all people, and this is the reason for sin when a Christian fails. It seems so blatant and foolish when expressed in black and white words on paper, but when I sin it is because I think I know better than God, that my choices are wiser and more profitable than His. This selfish thinking can be stronger than common sense and can even overwhelm the mind of faith. It is little wonder that such foolishness on my part required such an extreme remedy on His part. 

Christ died once for (my) sins. An innocent person died for (me) who is guilty. Christ did this to bring (me) to God. . .  (1 Peter 3:18)
It is for this reason that Paul said, Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me. My part is reaching out for His hand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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