As children we are born innocent, ignorant of the law. We grow up and our parents, our teachers, our baby sitters, our pastors, and society as a whole teach us about laws: God’s law, physical laws, governmental laws, acceptable societal laws, and our own experiential laws. As we grow older we begin to pick and choose how and when to obey laws based on our experiences and beliefs.
If the governmental law says that the speed limit is 25mph and as soon as we go past 25mph we are criminals. That’s the law, plain and simple. Societal laws say that going over the limit by 5mph usually won’t get you noticed by the law enforcers – the police. We take that thinking with us where ever we go. Some think “As long as I don’t get caught, I’m innocent.” Then when and only when they are caught, they repent, but only enough to reduce the fine or talk their way out of punishment. Why not, it worked on our parents. But as soon as they’re let go with a firm warning or a light fine, they’re back to their old ways.
Paul says “…for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.” God said not to lie (bear false witness) and because He said so, now it’s a law. Every time we “stretch” the truth, or omit the truth we are lying to others and to ourselves thereby breaking God’s law. In God’s eyes, anyone who breaks His laws must die. The payment for breaking God’s law is death. That’s it, plain and simple. It is just like being thrown into a debtor’s prison until the funds are raised to get you out of debt. If there’s no one that is willing to help you raise the needed funds, you’ll die there, in your debt. Except you’re thrown into this prison from birth! How fair is that? It isn’t! So a loving God sent His perfect holy Son to live in the flesh, like us, and live in the flesh without breaking God’s law, and then to pay for our debtor prison’s fine – death. His innocence was transferred to your account and your debt was transferred to His account, and He died for you, and you were set free. In God’s eyes, you died with Christ. If you’re dead there’s no law and if no law how can you be accused? If your great-great-great-grandfather is dead, how can the police arrest him for anything! That is how God sees you when you accept the gift of His Son. Unlike being dead in society, Jesus rose from the dead and since we died with Him on the cross, when He rose from the dead we rose to newness of life!
Now begins the war. When Jesus died for you, He died for your soul and spirit, but your flesh (body and mind) is still doomed until His return. You see Adam was the ruler of all, but when he chose to follow his own thoughts and disobey God, everything in the universe was infected with sin. Your body, just like the flower in your garden, or your dog, even the sun, is subject to the sin that Adam committed, and is cursed by God. While this might be hard to swallow [pun intended], but Adam saw that nothing happened to Eve when she ate the forbidden fruit, and not being deceived, willfully ate the fruit, and everything became infected with sin. So now when Adam and Eve had children, they too were infected with sin. This is why Jesus was born of a virgin, the sin-infected DNA of Adam wasn’t passed to Jesus.
So about this war… since we are dead, what war? Well, we still grew up with laws and the way of thinking about them directs our choices, good or bad. Most of those laws are wrong and so as we learn the truth through the written word of God and His Holy Spirit that lives within us. Therefore, we have a lot of things to unlearn. Romans 7 spells out this war. And while we are dead to sin, we must not allow it to continue to reign in our lives. The way to overcome them is through the knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s truth and renewing our minds every day. Paul says that we want to do good, but still inside is this desire to do the old ways, and sin. Sin is still in our bodies until we are free from it and that can only happen when the body succumbs to physical death or Jesus returns and gives us bodies like His. Read this:
Romans 7:22-24 (KJV) 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Notice this war is in our thoughts. The decisions we make are all based on these life-long teachings, these laws, that we’ve accepted throughout our lives. “I know I shouldn’t, but I so want that cupcake!” Exaggerating the truth is still a lie and most people do it out of a lifetime of habit. These are the battles, the war, we fight in our minds. We are to take captive every thought and useless imagination. That means we’re to have an active mind, not a passive mind. A passive mind is one where you’re reading a book and you know you’ve read page, but at the same time, you were thinking about your kids, or work, and you don’t remember what you read. Or you’re walking down the street and you’ve walked a mile and didn’t even realize it because you were thinking of everything except your surroundings. Have you ever drove on “auto-pilot”? All these things are passive. This is why so many people are unhappy. They’re either thinking about the future or the past, and that means anything other than living in this very moment.
I guarantee you most people won’t have made it this far in this teaching, and if you have, you’re more active in your thinking than most. As a final thought [pun intended] let’s read the answer to Paul’s (and our) dilemma:
Romans 7:25 (KJV) 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.
You are dead to sin, don’t let the devil whip up thoughts of condemnation. How can you be condemned when you’re already dead! Paul warns not to let your liberty (your freedom) from sin be an excuse to sin. You’re an ambassador for God and your mission is to bring men to God and God to men – reconciliation. When you deal with the sins in your flesh you’ll reap the reward of peace. They call it a “conscience” but it’s really the law of God written on our hearts. So when we don’t listen to what’s written within us, we’re not at peace.
Just my two cents. I hope you enjoyed it. I learned a lot 😀