March 10, 2017
Romans 7:14, 15, 24
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Paul had a problem! But it was a problem common to us all! It is known as the sin nature – and by several other names in Scripture (see Matthew 8:22; Romans 6:6; 8:5; 8:7; I Corinthians 2:14; Colossians 3:9). Paul’s problem was that he carried within himself this rebellion against God and His will. Here is the apostle’s testimony from Romans 7:14, 15, and 24:
…I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand.
For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do….O
wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Such rebellion started with our first parents bowing to the will of the devil! (See Genesis 3:1-6). They openly disobeyed God’s command of Genesis 2:16 and 17: “…of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Physical death eventually came, even though they were designed for eternal living. But spiritual death was immediate! When the LORD arrived in the Garden of Eden for regular fellowship with His highest creation, Adam and Eve ran and hid! (See Genesis 3:8). But the penalty for disobedience went much further than just these two hiding from God!
• All creation, over which man was given dominion (see Genesis 1:26), was wrested from human control, usurped to Satan’s dominion (see Luke 4:5, 6), and cursed! (See 3:14-19; Romans 8:20-23).
• Man, being “…created…in the image of God…” (Genesis 1:27), carried that image in his very being! But once he bowed to Satan, mankind was implanted with the image of the evil one! As Jesus said in John 8:44 (to the Pharisees specifically, but to us all generally): “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” This is why Jesus tells us in John 3:7, “You must be born again.” We must have reimplanted in us by the Holy Spirit the image (the nature) of God! (See II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20). It is only in this way that we can be reconciled with our Creator! It is only in this way that we can again become good by God’s standard! (See Matthew 5:48; I John 3:9; 5:18).
• That Satanic nature was passed down from father to child over the millennia! Paul wrote in Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned….” So we are all in the same sinful boat!
When I attended Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania (I was their token Baptist at this conservative seminary!), my theology professor, Dr. John Rodgers, had a favorite saying by which he explained our sinful actions in whatever situation we found ourselves. He would tell the class, “Here’s the problem: Wherever I go, I go, too! ”
Wherever I go, I Go, Too! People often think, “If only I could change my circumstances – my mate, my family, my job, where I live, etc. – I would change my life and be a much better person!” It does not work that way! We carry that old sin nature within ourselves everywhere we go! And Paul tells us in Galatians 5:19 through 21 (Easy to Read Version) what we are to expect to be manifested from that sin nature:
The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: committing sexual sin,
being morally bad, doing all kinds of shameful things, worshiping false
gods, taking part in witchcraft, hating people, causing trouble, being
jealous, angry or selfish, causing people to argue and divide into separ-
ate groups, being filled with envy, getting drunk, having wild parties,
and doing other things like this.
What we need is not a change of outward enviroment, but a change of inward nature – called the heart in Ezekiel 36:26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh.” Only God can do that! In Jeremiah 13:23 we are reminded, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.” But since the Ethiopian can’t change the color of his skin, or the leopard can’t remove his spots, we who are accustomed to do evil cannot do good by our own volition!
But God can do it in and through us! He created us in the first place, and He can recreate within us a nature both good and godly! What will that nature be like? A succinct description of what issues from such a nature – called the fruit of the Spirit – is found in Galatians 5:22 and 23 (International Standard Version): “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Read again the wrong things the sinful self does (above) compared to the fruit of the Spirit. Now, which would you rather have in you to be manifest by your life wherever you go? The latter in your life is possible only by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ living in and through you. Such a life starts by…
• …admitting your sinfulness before God, and your need of His help! (See Romans 3:10, 23).
• …realizing that only Jesus Christ – the Son of God, God the Son – paid for your sins by dying on the cross! (See II Corinthians 5:21).
• …recognizing that He rose from the dead, conquering sin, death, hell, and the devil, and He lives forever to give that salvation to all who come to Him by faith believing! (See Romans 10:9; Hebrews 7:25).
• …inviting Him into your heart and life to be your Savior and your Lord! (See Revelation 3:20).
If you sincerely receive God’s offer of His Son, the ‘I’ that goes with you wherever you go will manifest a much different and much more pleasing life – both to God and to you!