Monday, December 12, 2011

"His Delight... Our Delight"

Resident within born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are two sets of conflicting desires.
"I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (Romans 7:22-25).

The Apostle Paul affirms the presence of "delight" for faithful obedience in his innermost being - "with the mind, I myself serve the law of God." The Holy Spirit produces this intense desire in believers by "working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Conversely, Paul confessed that a "law of sin" remained in his flesh (our members and faculties inherited from Adam). This law, left to itself, will always stimulate inward and outward expressions of unbelief and disobedience. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other" (Galatians 5:17).

These conflicting motivations will remain with us throughout our earthly lifetime. No less than Paul declared, "When I would do good, evil is present with me" (Romans 7:21). Genuine spirituality in Christ at present therefore does not involve the elimination of the law of sin in us, but rather the overcoming of it. "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Romans 8:13). Thus, the Christian life demands that we recognize the conflict, and that notwithstanding the lusts of the flesh, our deepest yearning, indeed, our very "delight," is to do the will of God. Again, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man."

Application of this truth requires much faith and confidence in the Word of God. How easy it is, as Paul wrote, to "see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind." Recognizing our Christ-wrought desire to trust and obey God, however, requires the ongoing determination to believe our Lord in the face of contrary evidence, emotion, and the devil's ongoing efforts to hinder the truth of our deepest delight (Romans 8:2). Regardless of past experience, present appearance, and uncertain prospects of the future, born again believers must affirm the truth of God's faithful working in us "both to will and to do," along with Scripture's declaration of our delight in faithfulness.

Boil a Christian down to his or her essence, and you will find the Spirit of the Lord Jesus vitally united to the spirit of His trusting one, infusing and installing His delight in the Father's will as our delight. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Corinthians 6:17). This we must believe and consistently affirm in order to overcome the conflicting desires in our flesh. The grace of God birthed within us this "new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). Indeed, the Lord Jesus died not only to grant forgiveness of sins, but to change the very heart of who we most deeply are. This He did when we believed, and now He calls us to trust in the face of all conflicting evidence that His Word is true, and His working in us both to will and to do is dynamically actual in our "I myself." May we believe, and thus realize in practical expression the truth of His delight - and our delight.

"Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh."
(Romans 8:9-12)

No comments: