Dear Praying Friends,
Rachel and I appreciate your willingness to join with us each Wednesday to pray on behalf of our prodigals and for revival.
We have been considering the truth of sanctification in the life of the believer. We have learned that sanctification is what God does, not what we do. First, He gave us a new position “in Christ” and He enables us through the Spirit to say no to sin and yes to righteousness. This requires us to surrender to God and not to our sinful passions. Only through our ongoing, daily surrender to God are we enabled to live in the Spirit’s power.
It is comforting to know that we are all in this together. When thoughts of sin come into our minds and we allow these thoughts to germinate and grow into acts of wrongdoing, we can get the idea that we are the only ones struggling. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even the great apostle Paul wrestled with those tendencies in his life. In Romans seven, Paul explains that the law exposed our sinful passions, and brought the fruit of death. This doesn’t mean that the law is sinful, but rather, the law (the holy, righteous standard of God) reveals what is in our hearts and provides an opportunity for us to break it. “But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power” (Rom.7:8). John MacArthur puts it this way, “Confronted by God's law, the sinner's rebellious nature finds the forbidden thing more attractive, not because it is inherently attractive, but because it furnishes an opportunity to assert one's self-will.”
As we try to understand what is going on inside us, we need to get a fuller and clearer grasp of how absolutely wicked our sinful natures really are. Paul goes on to say, “So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good...And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Rom.7:14-19). The conclusion is clear, the power of sin is greater than any one of us or all of us put together. (I know this sounds a bit depressing, but I assure you that things get better.)
The cry of Paul’s heart is our cry as well. “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom.7:24-25). Our only answer for victory over sin in this life is found in Jesus Christ our Lord! He is the One who can enable us to live in victory. As we lean on His strength and allow Him to work in and through us, His power becomes evident in our lives. He gives us the strength we need to resist sin and live the holy life He intends for us. He transforms us to not only do what is good but also to desire what is good. When we allow Him to do this perfect work within us, we reflect His beauty more and more.
Next week we will consider how the Holy Spirit makes Christ a reality in our lives.
Thanks for praying,
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel