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"For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:14)
The Apostle Paul made a confession in his letter to the Roman Church, which gave me a lot of empathy towards the inner struggle that he had to face. It was encouraging to hear in all his honesty that even he had to fight the battle that rages with self-will. For I, as we all do, share in his struggle. "For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want." (Romans 7:19) I don’t know about you, but I know about me all too well that when I think that I have finally conquered a flaw in my behavior another one comes to the forefront. As I battle that one down, an old one will return. Thus, there is no end to the inner battle as long as I am in this weak tent. Our Lord and Savior knew the pitfalls that we must hurdle each day of our walk, as He told His disciples in the Garden on that last night. "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
I am not one to claim victimization and admit that I am without excuse, but I believe that the roots of the thorns go very deep, perhaps as far back as the Garden of Eden on that wretched day when man fell from his state of holiness. It brings to my mind the parable of the sower, and at times I see that I am the soil filled with thorn seeds. Even as I am growing in righteous living the thorns shoot up as well. "Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out." (Matthew 13:7) It is then that we need to plow deep into the soil of our hearts to root out those long awaiting seeds of sin that though dormant fester to show themselves in our lives.
I must also admit that it is a tiresome chore each day to be in conflict with my self as I am one who does not enjoy confrontation even with myself. Still it is worth the battle, and I shall persevere as the victory over self will be mine through Jesus Christ. His Spirit dwells within, and the problem is that I must yield all to Him. I have great hope in this truth. "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)
As I examine the truth of myself, I find that I am well evil enough that Satan needs not to bother to tempt me. As David wrote in Psalm 54 “my past sins are always before me” and provide plenty fodder for me to tempt myself. It’s those old habits that rattle me in the night and question me in the day. If I in a weakened moment, I let them rest upon my mind, then those fiery darts of my own making begin to fly. It seems to be my own spiritual war that at its worse, becomes more than just a rumor. It is a conflict that must be fought as the law of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) I will win not by my efforts but by submission to the Spirit that is within me. If I allow His Spirit to fill the sails of my life I will reach the harbor of His safety. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:2)
In spite of the wretched man that I am, he loved me while I was yet a willing sinner. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Jesus loved me at my worst, is leading me to become my best, and through Him one day I will be as He is. "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37)
As a disciple of Christ, we have been given this challenge. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15) We are to trust and obey, this is where the power is, keeping His Word. Keeping His Word hidden in our hearts keeps our minds focused on the things that are of God and not on the things that are of the world. We are here in this world, but we are citizens of the Kingdom of God and must learn to live like the King's citizens. How else would the world know that we are His? When I was a dog I lived as a dog. The members of my flesh were slaves to sin and wicked living. Sin was by my choice. Now that I am a King’s kid I must discipline the members of my flesh to live in a manner worthy of the privilege of the salvation that has been given to me. I have been justified by faith in Jesus. Now I must be sanctified by submission to His Spirit. "I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification." (Romans 6:19)
If I had in the past, sacrificed my time, talent and treasure to feed the lustful living that was an abomination to the Lord? Planted those seeds of destruction into my flesh that they controlled me. Spending my time and energy planning my next episode of covering all the three bases of sinful behavior. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." (1 John 2:16) It takes no more energy to repent and change the way we think and discipline the members of our flesh to live in a holy manner. It is a question of which dog wins. If we feed the bad dog, then that dog wins, but if we feed to good dog that dog will win. If we feed the flesh and its evil desires, then it will control us. If we feed the spirit on the commandments of God, then the Spirit will overcome the flesh. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (Romans 13:14)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
First Baptist Church of Durant, June 14, 2015
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