Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fighting sin is a battle won only when these two keys are in place - Lessons from Paul

Our world is a world of conflict. Nation is against nation, and within nations we are also one people against another. We are so conflicted on our planet... could that reflect a warring conflict within us as well? Perhaps. But the believer of Jesus experiences a new reality but seems to still struggle with an older, fallen side.

Photo credit: Greg Rakozy/unsplash - modified by DR
Paul wrote of such a conflict here. These three chapters - Romans 6-8 - are some of the Bible's most intense Scriptures ever written. Straying clear of useless debates, I rather dwell on the solution so clearly presented for our own good.

We are beings of a new nature in Christ. Paul says we are now able to serve God and act according to the "newness of the Spirit". In this Spirit, who is the Spirit of God Himself dwelling in us, we can choose to "walk".

But this is no walk in the park. The first person to have "walked with God" was Enoch - as one of the righteous ones, few and sparse, he lived during a time of great cruelty, wickedness, and violence on earth. Enoch's walking with God was extremely counter-cultural. It was a conscious decision that required intention and commitment to see it through. It requires us to meditate on the things of Heaven - things like our Father's love for us and His favor on us, things like the sacrifice of Jesus, things nothing short of eternity.

Pauls calls us to walk in the newness of life and the Spirit. This is a walk that one must purpose to do. Here is the first key to defeating sin - living and walking in the Spirit and the newness of life. It means that you cultivate your spirit life, your relationship with God. I am sure you already know how to do this.

But it is as struggle. This spiritual walk requires us to bare spiritual weapons of war. As we yield this armament we fight and we kill. What is it that we kill?

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13
Let's not mince words here but many alive are walking dead and not living. If you want to start living this is how. The Spirit of the Mighty One in you - He is the weapons by which you defeat sin as you cultivate your walk with God - meditating on His word, praying, worshiping in Spirit and Truth. These verses were not written to judge God's people because as believers we already in the spirit but our minds constantly need renewing, refocusing, recommitment. This is the greatest war - the war for our souls.

The second key is grace and appears later and more directly in our Better Part Challenge of reading the Bible in one year. Grace is not something you are saved by and then sing songs about. Grace is the air you breath as Christian! It is His favor on you - unmerited and unconditional - His favor is there, but we choose not to breathe. If His grace is an ocean, we often choose not to swim in it. Instead of breathing grace and diving into grace, we prefer walking in dry deserts - relying on ourselves and self-motivation. To be sure, we have role, but the energy we play in it secondary to the Life of the Spirit in our bodies.

Our struggle with sin is one we'll contend with as long as we are on this side of eternity. And like any war, there will be battles lost and battles won. It is not a one-off thing and let no one and nothing give you guilt. Because our sins have already been forgiven. When this truth is embraced, daily, continually - not just during a moment during a sermon or perhaps a period of time where you are excited about it - but a daily embracing and receiving of grace... ah, that is when you'll defeat sin. That is when you will truly live!
 If you missed some of this year's readings and accompanying devotionals click here.

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The Green Leaf Blog-Discover your inheritance!

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