Self help = no help

Ego This morning I jumped on the scale
and hoped that I hadn’t gained as much weight as I thought I had.  I was
not too surprised to discover that my instincts were correct.  Isn’t it
funny how we already know the truth of our weight prior to placing our two feet
on that little platform of reality?  Now I have a couple of options when
it comes to this information.   I can begin pursuing a plan of
action; dieting and exercise, or I can be depressed and shrug it off as an
"oh well" moment. 
It’s amazing how God speaks to us and even more amazing is the timeliness of
his word.  After getting dressed and heading to Starbucks for my morning
reading, I found myself in the middle of Romans 8.  In chapter 7, Paul
laments over the fact that sin resides in his body and even though he doesn’t
want to sin, he sins anyway. Romans 7:7 (The Message) But
I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if
the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously
need help! 18 I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it,
but I can’t do it. 19 I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I
decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.

What a sobering thought!  The
apostle Paul, author of much of the New Testament, who providing the most
astounding testimony of true conversion is someone who can’t stop
sinning!  Why?  Because "the power of sin within me keeps
sabotaging my best intentions".
 
But there’s hope found in chapter 8!

Romans 8:1 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that
fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no
longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. 2 A new
power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has
magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal
tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

As Christians we need to be aware
that the power of sin still resides in our bodies even as it did for Paul,
however because of His Spirit, sin has no right to enslave us!   Yet
so many of us are imprisoned, except we are the ones clasping the shackles and
we are the ones turning the key to the lock!

Yes, we are new creatures through the new birth, but practically speaking,
the "power of sin which resides in us" is simply the habits we have
developed from so many years of being trained in the flesh. 

Here’s an important piece of wisdom from Paul!  While we should be
aware of the power of sin, it does us no good to obsess over our weaknesses,
condition, and sin-sickness!

Eugene Peterson phrases this well in Romans 8:5

5 Those who think they can do it on their own
end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to
exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that
God’s Spirit is in them – living and breathing God!

Often we waste time and energy on
self-obsession. We hop onto our spiritual scales with a good idea of what will
show up on the readout and we dwell incessantly on the details, causes, and
consequences of our condition.  In error, we presuppose that dwelling on
our failures is the sanctifying pathway to peace, love, and joy.  Of
course, this is exactly where the enemy wants us to be.   (Verse
6
"Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end" )

Surely, we should be made conscious
to the reality of our ruined souls.  We should take our stand on the scale
and look into the mirror of the word.  However, staring at the scale is
fruitless until we allow the data of the scale to move past the threshold of
our minds and hopeful intentions.  Without the intentional exercising of
the "moral muscle" we lay dormant in a desensitized state.

(Verse 7 Focusing on the self is the opposite of
focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up
thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he
is doing.)

There’s a word for what God has
done, is doing, and will do!  Grace.  We must not merely bask
in the light of the forgiveness that grace brings, but we also soar by the
spirit wind that grace produces! It is grace that fuels our spirit’s desire,
our mind’s intent, and our soul’s yearning! It’s not just for forgiving sin,
it’s for removing sin!  It promises eternal life in the here and
now! 

"Verse 11 When God
lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are
delivered from that dead life."

That’s a promise worth living for!

 

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