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Sunday, November 15, 2015


We live in a self-help world. Oh, not just self-help, to be sure. We like our analysts and our doctors and our therapists and our nutritionists and our holistic health coordinators and all sorts of people who will help us feel better. Even as Christians we think that if we can just "work on it" a bit, we can arrive at spiritual health. You know, some self-control and self-denial and some careful spiritual workouts and we should be okay.

Contrast that with Scripture.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:13)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col 3:5)
Isn't that just like God? Too dramatic. Too "over the top". We just need some tuning, some therapy, a couple of good self-help books, an accountability partner, that kind of thing. Surely there's a 12-step program in there somewhere.

God's answer is not "You can make it better." It is not "Your best life now." It is "Put it to death." We live in a therapeutic society that looks to fix everything and God is telling us we need to kill it. We're hoping a little massage will make it feel better and He's telling us to kill the old self. We need to execute him. And when he gets back up, do it again. We need to stop coddling him -- trying to make the sinful self better -- but to nail him to a cross ... the Cross of Christ ... again and again and again.

Sin is that which is not done by God for God. The only good that we can do is that which is accomplished by "God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Phil 2:13) Thus, any therapies you might apply to make your old self a better self won't work.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:2-3)


Bob said...

yep just what i was thinking...
i think i am going to put a bullet in my head. that should do it. kill that flesh.
how about self flagellation, a little out of date, but effective. nail it to the cross? that would still leave me with a free hand. i could just jump off a tall building, would that help?
probably not. so what is the formula? it is one thing to define the nature of the problem and even to quote what it is that the lord expects of us. but where is the how? where is the solution set? every christian struggles with sin and the flesh to some degree. how do we kill the flesh with out killing our bodies?

Stan said...

That is the trick, isn't it? Kill the flesh without killing our bodies. Because, of course, doing the latter would solve the former ... just not in a good way.

I don't see it as a formula, a program, a 12-step process. I don't imagine a "how to" book being written on it. No solution set. And, yes, every Christian struggles with it. (I suspect those who don't are not Christians.) So I see it as a dull, ordinary, daily, even minute-by-minute process of "There's the flesh!" discovery followed by "Jesus, take this and bury it for me, please." Recognizing all along that it could be back tomorrow ... or this afternoon ... or. Or not.

In the positive example, Peter writes, "Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:5-8) Killing old flesh. Building new. "1. Execute my sin. 2. Repeat." A lifelong spiritual process.

Bob said...

sorry for the negative diatribe. i was just expressing the futility of the battle: and what it feels like when we try to do this christian life on our own. i found this verse.
walk with the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. Gal 5:16
OK that again begs the question: how to walk with the Spirit? i have heard that this done by
availing our selves to the " means of Grace" Prayer, reading the word, fellowship, praise and worship. yet even in this i need Jesus help, but yes it is a battle. keep up the Good fight.

Stan said...

I didn't see any "negative diatribe". I saw a "Look, I see what the Scriptures say and I want to do it but it just seems like every day is a struggle to get anywhere and I want -- desperately need -- to get closer to God and godliness. How?!?" You know ... normal Christian concerns.

Bob said...

what about the idea of " be still and know that i am the lord" or my grace is sufficient for thee. only the weary can appreciate these verses. the young and the ambitious, want to raise the flag of valor and jump into the fray. bless their little hearts.