If Christ has overcome, and sin has been defeated what explains Paul lament of Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Even though saved, Paul vividly depicts the struggle the believer is in.
Paul’s confession comes as a shock to the Christian, for we are taught that Christ defeated sin at the cross. That is indeed true, but we must remember the old era has not been eradicated. The old era of a sin dominated world still exists and believers can still be influenced by the power of sin. Therefore, the battle still goes on, and we must wait for the day we are delivered from the frustration that Paul so bravely admitted to. It is a matter of an “Already/Not yet” tension that we believers must live in. We are “Already” justified and reconciled, indwelt by the Sprit, but we are “Not yet” glorified and resurrect, and thus still subject to sin’s lure.
What is Paul point? He is saying that sin has been defeated, but its’ power has not been entirely done away with, and the Christian must still be careful of its attraction. Sin and death are still powerful forces with which the believer must deal with. Paul has gone out of his way, even to the point of damaging his own reputation, to depict the seriousness of the struggle that we still have before us.
Set your mind on Christ,
I fear there is a milk toast Christianity present in our churches today. Absent is the rugged reality of the N.T. that we see Paul writing about. I fear in many churches there is no need for the death of Jesus. All that is required is an occasional showing up, some pious talk, and a collection plate. There is no experience of the supernatural or the miraculous. There seems to be a lack of genuine presence of the H.S. that causes people to say, “That is the work of God Almighty.”
The N.T. example of the Christian experience is that of a personal, passionate devotion to Jesus. Any other kind of so-called Christian experience is detached from the person of Jesus, and there is no regeneration, no sanctification, no being born again into the kingdom in which Christ lives and reigns supreme. There is only the idea that Jesus is our pattern, a figurehead, or an example to follow, and nothing more.
Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come. … He will glorify me” (John 16:13-14). When we commit ourselves to the revealed truth of the N.T., we receive from God the gift of the H.S., who then begins interpreting to us what Jesus did, and making us like him through sanctification and regeneration. The Spirit of God does in us internally all the J.C. did for us externally. Jesus is all-sufficient in saving us, for he cleanses us on the outside and on the inside.
Living in Arizona we know about rattlesnakes, and to be watchful for them. Unfortunately even the most careful of cowboys occasionally gets bit by one of those fanged devils. Fortunately there is an antidote for a snakebite, and that’s nature, and science working together – snake bite and the antidote.
The literature of the Bible reveals the poison in man. Many mistakenly think the Bible is a science book that sheds light on the world and how it was made. The Bible does have to do with the world, but in a different way. It deals with the poison that has bitten man, and provides the antidote for that poison so a person can live. Outside of the Bible we can find many names for the poison that has infected mankind, and they are identified by all kinds of high-sounding names. The Bible strips away and makes naked all those names and makes them known for what they really are – sin.
As I said, the antidote for sin is found in the Bible, and that antidote is discovered from the first verse to the last. The antidote for sin is God’s grace, and it is the supreme message of the Bible. The Spirit of God brooding over the chaos. The broken heart of a father calling out to his son, “Adam where are you?” The God of the Bible is the God who makes a way by which His banished ones may return. He is the God who so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.
Christ, the antidote,
Unfortunately to many Christians can be labeled as, “In-betweeners.” What is an
in-betweener? A good example is the time between when Israel was delivered from slavery in Egypt, and their arrival in the Promised Land. The Israelites were saved from slavery in Egypt, but along the way to the Promised Land they were never satisfied or trusted God. They kvetched all the way to the Promise Land, and because of their complaining and lack of trust they lost many blessings. They lived in between the promises of God.
An in-betweener Christian lives between Christmas and Easter. As someone at Bible study humorously pointed out on Tuesday, they are not Christians but Chreasters. An
in-betweener believes in Jesus birth, and they believe in His death, but they are never
convicted to the point of trusting God completely. They never enter into the real power and glory of the resurrection. Sadly this is an unfulfilled Christian life, for many blessing from God are missed.
Rom 6:5 indicates our union with Christ assures our future resurrection when we die. But Romans 6:4 teaches us that we share His resurrection power today. I like what Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above … For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1, 3). If you have been raised with Christ stop being an in-betweener, and set your heart on things above.