Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Christian life's boxing ring

Romans 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.

The idea of victory must pass through conflict in order to experience victory
A wise pastor once told me that in order to understand the idea of the victorious Christian life in Romans 6, you have to grasp the conflict of it in Romans 7 in order to experience the victory of Romans 8.  As we come to The Holy Spirit's ongoing discussion of the victorious Christian life through the pen of Paul, we see Paul sharing his pre-conversion life in Romans 7:7-13.  Recognizing who he was before Christ, Paul changes the tenses of his verbs from "things that were" to "things that are now" in his life.

Do Christian's have to sin, or do they choose to sin?
As we look at Romans 7:7-13 and Romans 7:14-25, we see two pictures: Pre-conversion life and Post-conversion life.  In Romans 7:14-25 Paul is describing his Christian life as a boxing ring, wherein two opponents are sparing with one another.  There is "the law of sin" or "the old man, nature" (7:23) versus "the law of my mind", the "inner man" or the operations of the new nature in Christ. (7:22)  As you go down through this verse, Paul describes the interior of His Christian life in relationship to sin:

7:15 "For I am doing the very thing I hate"
7:18 "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not."
7:19 "For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want"
7:22 "for I joyfully concur with the law of God in my inner man"
7:23 "but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war..."

Clearly there is conflict, a 12 round all and all out fight.  The underlined phrases tells us that sinning for the Christian  is a matter of choice.  To sin as a Christian is not "I have to", but rather "I want to".  Even the Great Apostle Paul dealt with this inner boxing ring. They are by position, and are by experience, counting themselves dead to the voice of the sin still resident in their flesh. (please read Romans 6)  However that voice that needles daily in their "old man", if not dealt with and regarded as dead by the believer, will as it were get off the cross and attempt to live. The fight is on, however in the context of Romans 6,7 and 8 we discover one important truth about this boxing match in the Christian life.

Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world
Paul's argument, though showing the boxing match between "the old man" and "the inner man", reveals that the inner's man is much stronger and more skilled than the old man.  The Holy Spirit says through the Apostle John in 1 John 4:4 "greater is He that is in you, and he that is in the world".  The argument carries on into Romans 8 and we read in Romans 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death."  

So is there a boxing ring in the Christian?  Undoubtedly!  Are the opponents evenly matched? Hardly.  My inner man has with Him God the Holy Spirit, living in and through me and expressing Himself by way of my mind, emotions and will.  Even though the presence of sin is still in me, it is weakened and its power to utterly imprison me was taken away.  The argument of Romans 6 for the victorious Christian life requires the conflict of Romans 7 to demonstrate that victorious Christian living is a real thing and not a fiction of some pious imagination. 

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