The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The Apostle beckoned Philemon and all believers to join him in his affirmation of delight in God's will residing in our spirits, while acknowledging the contrary disposition of our flesh."
The New Testament records the testimony of a man who found living the Christian life to be a great challenge, particularly regarding his own internal conflict.
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not… For 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" (Romans 7:18; 22-23).
The Apostle Paul could find nothing in his earthly humanity that enabled him to live according to God's standards of faith and faithfulness. "No good thing" dwelt in his flesh. However, within his "inward man" - his spirit - dwelled the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts" (Galatians 4:6). This elicited not only desire for God's will in the depths of Paul, but literal "delight." All believers experience this dichotomy of desire. We do not always sense or feel the delight for God's will that resides in us through Christ. Sometimes just the opposite seems to be the case. Moreover, even when we desire to do God's will, we may still feel the movings of the law of sin that dwells in our members - "when I would do good, evil is present with me" (Romans 7:21).
In such times, a choice of faith lies before us. Will we believe the Word of God, affirming our delight in God's will that dwells in the depths of our spiritual being? - "the new man, created in righteousness and true holiness?" (Ephesians 4:24). Or will we succumb to fleshly sensibilities that tempt us to believe sin constitutes our truest desire rather than righteousness?
I frequently illustrate this challenge in personal terms regarding drivers who follow too closely, namely, tailgaters. When confronted by such folks, I do not "feel" the love of Christ for them, nor do my thoughts immediately flow in the direction of blessing. My flesh reacts in a contrary response. Often it seems that nothing exists within me but irritation and anger. But is this true? Am I nothing more than flesh? Is the Spirit of Christ in me dormant? Is the Holy Spirit not working in me "both to will and to do of His good pleasure?" (Philippians 2:13). Am I not a "new man, created in righteousness and true holiness?" These are not merely rhetorical questions. These are rather the crux of the matter regarding how I will relate to the person behind me following too closely. Will I believe the Word of God in the face of all contradictory evidence, including the emotional, mental and physical sensibility that tempts me to resentment? Will I walk after the deceptions and desires of the flesh, or the truth and delight of my spirit, united to and empowered by the Holy Spirit?
What if my truest delight, based on the presence of Christ in my heart, is actually to bestow mercy on tailgaters? What if I genuinely desire to pray for such ones? What if God really is working in me "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Again, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." Through the years, this has become the protocol I seek to follow, first, trusting the Lord Jesus as the Life of my life, and in the light of such grace, believing I truly desire to bless enemies, regardless of fleshly sensibilities. I then pray for whoever may be following too closely, asking the Lord to lead them to Himself, whatever their needs involve. This brings great peace in the heart, regardless of what I may feel in the flesh. Most importantly, I trust the Lord will answer the prayers mentioned, and who knows what He might do in people's lives because He graciously led and enabled me to walk in the truth of who He is, and who I am as united to Him? "Pray for them who despitefully use you" (Matthew 5:44).
In calling Philemon to receive his escaped servant Onesimus back "as a brother beloved," Paul reminded Philemon of "every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus" (Philemon 1:6). He knew Philemon would be tempted by fleshly sensibilities regarding Onesimus, whom Paul had led to Christ. The Apostle encouraged Philemon to see himself in the spirit, united to the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, where "every good thing" of Christ dwelt. Thereby, he would find the power to greet a brother in love, rather than chasten a servant in vengeance. The Apostle would call us to the same. The Apostle beckoned Philemon and all believers to join him to affirm delight in God's will residing in our spirits, while acknowledging the contrary disposition of our flesh. Knowing that the Holy Spirit ever works in us to to form our deepest and truest desire in terms of faithfulness to God will go far in leading us to heed Paul's commands…
"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."
"Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Weekly Memory Verse
Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.