DEAD OR ALIVE?
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:12-14.
“But,” you ask, “why am I not sinlessly perfect now if I died and rose again with Jesus? Why do I still struggle with the temptations of my old nature?”
Firstly, God would have to take you out of this present evil world in order to set you free from all the allurements to sin, and He will. Although He did not have a natural bent towards sin, Jesus Himself was not immune to temptation.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15.
Secondly, God has left us in the world, and He has not obliterated our old nature because He is training us to be His sons and daughters. Without the temptation to do wrong, we would not have opportunity to exercise our will and learn submission and obedience to Him in the environment of sin and disobedience. The very hardships we endure and the temptations that come with the tests, are God’s way of strengthening and purifying our faith in Him.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children…No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:7a; 11.
Thirdly, by learning to make the right choices in the face of temptation, we strengthen our love and loyalty to the One who saved us and called us into fellowship with Himself. We are witnesses to the enemies of God, both human and demonic, that God is worthy of our love and trust. He reveals who He really is through us.
People are suspicious of God because the devil has lied to them. They cannot abide His holiness and they think He is out to get them. They create their own gods to replace Him because their gods are manageable and more like themselves. They think they are not obligated to live up to His standards and to be accountable to Him if they have their own god. But in the end, they will stand before Him to give an account of the way they lived.
How then, do we overcome the old nature that still rages within us? Paul said, “It’s dead. Now act as though it were dead.” In his book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers said that we must go to our own white funeral. In other words, we must see our old nature in a casket, being buried in the grave with Jesus. We must visualise ourselves rising with Him and leaving the old sinful nature behind in the tomb.
On the strength of that, we are to make our mortal bodies a present to God, using every part of it for His purposes, not our own. We are constantly being pulled in two directions, towards gratifying ourselves or pleasing God by meeting the needs of others. Paul said, “…Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1b. How do we do that?
Again, Paul tells us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2a.
Change the way you think by thinking what God thinks. Just as sin begins in the mind, so obedience to God begins in the mind. Instead of dwelling on your own wants and wishes, fill your mind with what God says and desires, and the slow transformation into the way Jesus thought and acted will begin to happen. This means taking time to read God’s word and taking the trouble to find out what His thoughts about you are and how He wants you to live.
Yes, it does demand time and discipline, but the rewards are out of this world!
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