“There was a day when I died;
died to self, my opinions, preferences, tastes and will;
died to the world, its approval or censure;
died to the approval or blame even of my brethren or friends;
and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God." George Muller
Can you say the same? When Paul is writing the book of Romans he takes a look back at what many believe was his struggle living under that old covenant.
Rom 7:15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Rom 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
Rom 7:17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
Rom 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (ESV)
Notice the continuous “I” that Paul refers to…He wants to do good but cannot. Oh, how many well meaning Christians have taken this verse and have agreed that they could not do the good they wanted to do, and they are correct. In verse 18 we see that “in his flesh” he cannot do the good he wants to do and Paul goes on to say it even stronger in the next chapter and in Corinthians
Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Notice also that it is a matter of ability, not a matter of desire, you CANNOT please God in the flesh. If so then we would be able to work our way to God and the propitiation of Christ Jesus on the cross would have been a vicious, needless death.
There is no life in the flesh and if we do not appropriate what God has already done in Christ Jesus by crucifying us with Him we will continue to try and please God by our works; by praying more, giving more, going to church more etc. And God in His infinite goodness will not allow us to continue to try and please Him in the flesh…there will be no joy, no peace in fact we will cry out like Paul saying the good that I want to do I do not do but the evil I hate is what I do.
Instead of God being “light and life (2Tim 1:10)” to us, the things of God become rote and routine. Instead of us having victory over sin and abiding in that victory we try and stop sin in the flesh by repression or suppression…and have, in a sense, a white knuckle relationship to our God. Our relationship to God is one of love and an obedience that flows from that love and understanding of all the riches we have in Him
1Jn 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In the Philippines I heard a local pastor use the following parable to illustrate Christ’s offer of rest (Matt. ll:28) and the response of people who won’t trust Him completely: The driver of a caribou wagon was on his way to market when he overtook an old man carrying a heavy load. Taking compassion on him, the driver invited the old man to ride in the wagon.
Gratefully the old man accepted. After a few minutes, the driver turned to see how the man was doing. To his surprise, he found him still straining under the heavy weight, for he had not taken the burden off his shoulders.
Christian, don’t make the same mistake…learn to rest in the fact that you HAVE been crucified with Christ and now set your mind on things above, just as the Bible instructs us to do.
Col 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Col 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Next time we look at a great and mighty example out of the book of Chronicles. Remember, the battle HAS been won and now rest in the victory we have in Christ.