Friday, November 7, 2014

"The Challenge, the Conflict" Part 2

   In his honest confession of the personal challenges faced in seeking a life of faithfulness and obedience to God, the Apostle Paul provides a key illumination regarding the dispositions of flesh and spirit.

    "I delight in the law of God after the inward man.  But I see another law warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (Romans 7:22).

    Paul affirms "delight" for obedience to God as provided by his Lord's fulfilled promise that "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  Indeed, salvation in Christ provides the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit whereby grace constitutes a "new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).  Therein, the Holy Spirit actively motivates desire to the degree of "delight" for the will of God in His trusting sons and daughters in Christ.  However, the Apostle also acknowledges "another law" that challenges the believer's joy in faithfulness and obedience.  Moreover, Paul alludes to the vivid awareness of this "law of sin" - "I see another law" (emphasis added).  Herein lies the challenge.  As Elijah discovered in days of old, the moving of the Spirit tends not toward wind, earthquake, and fire, but rather "a still, small voice" (I Kings 19:11-12).  Fleshly impulses, however, tend to make themselves much more known.  As with Paul, we tend to easily "see" them in our thoughts, emotions, responses, and relatings.  We might say that the Spirit whispers, but the flesh screams.

    Thus, in matters of self-perception, as constituted in Christ, believers must "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  We must believe that God works in us "both to will and to do."  We must affirm our "delight in the law of God", regardless of the fleshly movings within us that often seem much nearer to the surface of our consciousness.  As referenced at the outset of this consideration, boil a believer to his or her essence and that which remains is the Spirit of God and the spirit of the believer united in mutual delight for the will of God.  What do I most deeply desire?  The Scriptures and the Spirit unite to declare - usually very quietly - that "I delight in the law of God after the inward man".  Conversely, the world, the devil, and the flesh shout a very different message, one easily seen, heard, thought, and felt.  The issue thus comes down to faith - will I believe God and His promised working in the depths of my innermost being to effect delight for His will?   Or will the screams of flesh drown out the Still and the Small?

   An illustration to conclude this consideration.  Many years ago, I realized that God's will for the tailgaters that so often tempted me to irritation and anger when driving were not meant to be the subject of my ire, but rather of the love of God, as revealed in my heart.  "Pray for them which despitefully use you" (Matthew 5:44).  Pray for these thoughtless, careless, and sometimes even aggressive ones who put me and my family into danger?  I knew this was the will of God.  But I didn't want to!  Or, in the context of our present consideration, did I?  The answer is yes.  Yes, even in the matter of reckless drivers that prompted fleshly impulses and feelings so easily sensed, the truth remains that "I delight in the will of God after the inward man."  A choice therefore confronted me, and often continues to do so until this day when looking in my rear view mirror to see a nincompoop (just kidding!) following too closely.  Will I believe the still and the small of the Spirit and the Word that declares "I delight in the law of God after the inward man?"  Or will I believe the wind, earthquake, and fire of the flesh?  I'm pleased to testify, solely to the glory of the Lord Jesus, that choosing to affirm the Scriptural truth of delight for the will of God in the person I most deeply am, regardless of contrary impulses, thoughts, and feelings, has increasingly led to intercessions for tailgaters and peace in my heart (but I would also confess that I remain a work in progress concerning the matter).  The Lord Jesus promised such grace, and as we trust Him, He fulfills it, in us…

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
(John 8:32)

Weekly Memory Verse
   And this is love, that we walk after His commandments.  This is the commandment, that as ye have heard from the beginning, so ye should walk in it."
(II John 1:6).

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