Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Devotions: Our Freedom in the Gospel

The present theme of my morning time with God is still that the weapons of our warfare “have divine power to destroy strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:4). We have strongholds in our lives and church, they need to be destroyed, and we already have the weapons to do the work.

Today I was reminded that our starting place is our own inability. I think that one of the strongholds causing so much damage in churches is the curse of self-reliance. Self-protection is only an expression of that sarky belief that we can do things ourselves. We then become hopeless in our efforts to do good for God, rather than hope-filled as we rely fully on the power of the gospel to save us.

Admission: We need to come to the heartfelt experience of what Paul expressed:

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7)

1.     Admit we are wretched
2.    Ask who will deliver us since we are unable to do so

Answer: Not us, but God.

25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7)

If you are unfamiliar with the contrast and conflict between the flesh (sark) and the Spirit, read Romans 7:1-25 for an overview. Once you read that I hope you will be able to say “Amen” to the fact that it is God who will deliver his children from the power of the flesh, and he will do it through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Battle: There are two laws working against each other in the lives of Jesus’ disciples.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans7)

1.     There is the law of God we delight in in our inner beings
2.    There is the law of the flesh waging war against the law of our minds

The Predicament: In ourselves, we are stuck serving both laws.

25 So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7)

This has been a huge revelation for me this past year, that these two programs are both running in the Christian’s life, and we cannot escape this fact in this earthly lifetime.

Encouraging Observation: When we look at Paul’s example of pursuing the righteousness, joy, and peace, of life in the Holy Spirit[1], it was not that of a man who had no battle going on within him. Rather, it was as a man who, in himself, served the law of God with his mind, but served the law of sin with his flesh.

In other words, everything about victory in Jesus Christ is WHILE both these programs are running. The victory of faith is as we live by faith while our flesh wants to serve the law of sin. In this lifetime, it is never that we are free of this law (just as we are never free of computer viruses, malware, etc, that are trying to sabotage our computers), but that we are liberated from the power of this law as long as we run the life in the Spirit.

How God delivers us from this body of death: He sets us free!

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8)

What is so liberating for me right now is the realization that, when Paul talks about the law of the Spirit of life setting us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death, he does not mean that the law of sin and death are removed from the flesh. It is that we are now given the law of the Spirit of life as well, and this law triumphs over the other.

The Three Phases of Freedom: Remember these three doctrines of our salvation.

1.     Justification by faith frees us from the condemnation and power of sin.
2.    Sanctification by faith frees us to keep growing up to be like Christ.
3.    Glorification by faith will complete God’s work of fully restoring us to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ

Application: none of us needs to wait until the law of the flesh is no longer at work in us (we need to be in heaven for that!). INSTEAD, we “walk… according to the Spirit”;[2]  we “set their minds on the things of the Spirit”;[3] we experience the “life and peace” that comes by living according to the Spirit.[4]

Emphasis: But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness”.[5]

Paul says, “But if Christ is in you”, as the one requirement for victory in the Holy Spirit.

But notice the TWO things that are in place in all those who have Christ dwelling in us by his Spirit.

1.     “although the body is dead because of sin,”
2.    “the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Instead of living in defeat because we know “the body is dead because of sin”, we have the Holy Spirit who is our life because we have been justified in the righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith, not by working to defeat the flesh.

Right now, today, every one of us can live a victorious Christian life by faith. It all has to do with where we choose to “set” our minds.

6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8)

© 2016 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 14:17
[2] Romans 8:4
[3] Romans 8:5
[4] Romans 8:6
[5] Romans 8:10

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