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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Inside Out

We try hard. We want to be good, to be obedient, to do what God wants. We want to be followers of Christ. So we work it ... you know, like Paul said: "Work out your salvation" (Php 2:12). We exercise it and we push it and we try ... really ... hard. We look for good preachers and teachers. We find Christian counselors, professional or not, who can give us "Christian therapy," so to speak. We get accountability partners and prayer partners and we adopt programs and procedures to be godly. We'll whip this thing into shape.

How's that working for you?

As it turns out, it doesn't work well if we're honest. Just "being good" isn't something we do easily. The problem, of course, is that it isn't natural. We are denying ourselves of our pleasures and desires, pushing back our fleshly nature, warring against the flesh (1 Peter 2:11). As it turns out, we are doing it wrong. We looking in all the wrong places. We aim for the here and now when we're supposed to have an eternal view. We care most for ourselves when we're supposed to consider others as more important than ourselves. We celebrate humanity when we're supposed to celebrate God above all. We are in real trouble here.

God wants faithful followers, but the notion that we can work that up is not part of His plan. We need something else. You won't like this. We don't need to fix things; we need to die. We need to be crucified (Rom 6:5-6) spiritually. We can't fix this flesh; we have to kill it. We don't work with it; we end it. This is only possible if we are under a new paradigm, the one where we are raised with Christ (Rom 6:4) and God is at work in us (Php 2:13). We need the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). We need forgiveness, sure, but we also need righteousness that is not our own (2 Cor 5:21). We don't need to work harder; we need to be transformed (Rom 12:2). We need "the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).

Paul complained, "I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing" (Rom 7:19). Have you experienced that? He cried out, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:24). Have you done that? It's because we aren't naturally good; we are naturally flesh -- sinful. Our hope doesn't lie in better methods and programs and partners. It lies in a supernatural change from within wrought by God. It changes your "want to" to align with God's will. It changes your motivating force from self -- flesh -- to God's will. It isn't something you can produce on your own. It has to occur from the inside out. It is a supernatural work of God so that no one may boast.


Bob said...

Are we so foolish ? having begun in the Spirit, are we now be made perfect by the flesh?
The more i try to change the worse i get. the most sinister aspect to failure, is the fear that i should not pray afterward. because the world grows more frustrated with our persistent failures, it eventually will reject us and leave us to our own demise and so we expect our father to do the same.
"there is Good news" the father is not like the world, He loves for us to come to him for restoration. so even if we fail a hundred times a day, he will forgive us, when we come to him. forgetting all your imperfections, run to the father..

Stan said...

Our problem is attempting to change externally when an internal change (that, as you point out, is a function of the Spirit) is needed.