Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Believer's Two Natures (Part 5)

Power for Victory Over Sin 
The power for victory over our old nature is in Christ. But before we are ready to turn to Christ for power we must learn of our weakness. 

Understanding our weakness. 
In Romans 7:15-25 Paul describes the wretchedness of one struggling against sin which he hates, and finding in himself no power to overcome it. Every born-again person, before he learns the secret of victory gained through the power of Christ by His Spirit, goes through these distressing experiences of giving way to sin. Inwardly he hates and struggles against sin, only to learn by sad experience that he is powerless to overcome it in spite of all his resolutions not to fall into it again. Paul’s description of these struggles leads us to finding God’s way of deliverance and victory in Christ: 

“For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:15-25 niv). 

These verses speak of three laws: the law of God, the law of the mind and the law of sin. The law of God is that revelation given of God’s will for man. The law of the mind is the uniform working of the new divine nature in every born-again person that always delights in the will of God and hates sin. The law of sin is the working of the old nature that always wants to have its own way without concern for God’s will. 

The law of sin is said here to be in his “members,” while the delight he has in the law of God (called in verse 23 “the law of the mind”) is said to be in his “inner being.” The new divine nature that every born-again person has is the source of this delight in the law of God and hatred of sin, which causes him to struggle against the working of sin in his old nature. This new nature is looked at as being in reality his real self – his “inner being” – what he is really now in the depth or at the center of his renewed being. 

These two natures – the new divine nature that every Christian received from God when he was born-again, and the old sinful nature derived from Adam by natural birth – are set in sharp contrast to one another and are entirely opposite in their desires and aims. One loves and clings to sin while the other loves and longs to do the will of God. This longing of the new nature to do the will of God gives rise to struggles against the sin it hates, and also makes the Christian feel so wretched and unhappy whenever he gives way to sin. 

Another important thing to notice in the struggle described in Romans 7:15-25 is that no mention is made of either Christ or the Holy Spirit. The believer is struggling against his old nature in his own strength without looking to Christ or counting on Him to give power by His Spirit against sin. 

This experience of struggle and defeat, often prolonged for years, is very humiliating and painful, but there are two valuable lessons mentioned in verse 18 that are learned through it: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” In other words, by these repeated struggles he comes to realize that in his sinful or fallen nature (that he has by natural birth from Adam) there is no good thing. That nature always tends to sin and do evil. 

Moreover, even though he now has a new divine nature that delights in the will of God and hates sin, he has no power in himself to overcome his old sinful nature. So he learns first that there is no good thing in him by nature, and second that even after he has been made partaker of the divine nature, he has no power in himself to carry out the will of God that his new nature longs to do. 

After having learned the painful truth of his utter sinfulness and powerlessness to combat sin in his own strength, he cries out in desperation, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” He now has learned that if he is ever to get victory over sin in his life, the power for it has to come from a source outside himself. He must have someone else come in and give him power for deliverance and victory. 

As soon as the believer looks outside himself for a deliverer, his eyes are directed immediately to Jesus Christ whom he gladly claims as Lord. Yes, Christ is the answer to his agonizing cry, “Who will rescue me?” What a change from misery to thanksgiving! When he sees this he says, “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He is the only One who can set us free from both the condemnation and power of sin.

No comments:

Post a Comment