Friday, February 17, 2012

Why Christians have to deal with sin and the enemy

Romans 7:22-23 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

Yesterday we explored the Gospel's Boxing ring in the Christian.  At salvation, though sin's penalty is removed, and even though in sanctification sin's power to dominate is removed, scripture and experience demonstrate that the presence of sin is not removed.  With all that Paul presents in Romans 6 about the victorious Christian life, it would seem that Romans 7 throws cold water on the point of the Christian gaining any ground in the Christian life.  However let me remind the reader of what was stated a few days ago: that in order to live the victorious life of Romans 6, I must needs learn what victory is all about through the conflict of Romans 7 in order to experience the victory of Romans 8. In today's blog we want to outline some reasons why God chose to let the battle against sin and the enemy be a crucial feature of the overcoming Christian life.

1. Sin(s) are a reality in the Christian life, but not a necessity
1 John 1:8 states - "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us".  The presence of sin in the Christian life is not debated by scripture.  If anything, Paul's point in Romans 7 is to explain and acknowledge that fact.  The battle between my new nature in Christ and the left over remnants of sin in my life is a reality.  However, to say that I have to sin is another matter.  Gravity is a force in my life that I encounter everyday.  However as tempting as it may be sometimes to sleep in that extra fifteen or twenty minutes, if I fail to rise out of bed, its not because I had to give into gravity, but because I wanted to. 

2. God willed the enemy to remain here on earth so that we may learn victory
John 3:8 tells us that Jesus had come to destroy the Devil's work, however it is clear that the Devil (and by extension his network of demonic forces) were left to roam about freely on this planet. (1 Peter 5:8)  The fact that the possibility of my sinning is present too,  raises the question: Why?  1 John 4:4 tells us concerning our everyday spiritual battle:  "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."  Only when I am in situations where I am desperate for His presence, and see the shortcomings of my strength, will the power of Christ become more dear to me as I live daily for Him in Him.   I will learn to not tie myself too closely to this world's system nor fall for the schemes of the enemy. (Ephesians 6:1-11)

3. God willed to permit the remnants of sin to remain so that we may want to live for Him and not merely "have to" live for Him
Like wise concerning my daily responsibility to rein in the remnants of sin in my soul, 1 John 5:4 states - "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith." If I did not learn what it is like to want to live for Christ amidst hostile forces, all my Christianity would be is an "I have to" approach to godliness.  Faith is not faith unless it is tested. 

4. Wrestling in the Christian life works in us love for God, since love is a choice, not a duty
Notice what trials and temptations do for the Christian.  1 Peter 1:6 "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials".  Romans 5:3-4 "3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope".  And one more, James 1:2-3  "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  Notice those underlined words?  These affections are produced by wrestling in the faith.  The affections of afflictions are ingredients needed for cultivating love for God. 

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