02/09/T – The Predicament of the Flesh

2 Chronicles 6:12-42; Romans 7:14-25; Psalms 18:4-15; Proverbs 8:14-26

NT: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:14-25‬ ‭CSB)

God’s law is spiritual, and being spiritual, it speaks to and convicts the “inner man,” but has no effect on our flesh. Before a person places their faith in Christ, their inner man is bound to sin and their flesh is ruled by and bent toward sin. When a person comes to faith in Christ, their sinful self is put to death and their inner man – their desires, understanding, etc. – comes alive to God. However, their flesh that was once ruled by sin is still alive. Now this new creature in Christ has a desire to honor God’s law and be holy, but he has a flesh that is still bent toward sin. One might think, “what a cruel way to live… why would God give us a desire to do good, but then not do anything about our flesh that constantly stands in our way preventing us from living the life we are called to live?” This “law” or established principle is probably the reason many believers are resigned to the belief that they are still sinners – they are just saved by grace – and must do their best to get by and live as good a life as they can until they die and go to heaven. You can even see the frustration in Paul’s writing when he wrote, “What a wretched man I am? Is there any way out of the predicament… can anyone rescue from this body of flesh that is bent toward sin and full of death?” Though we, in and of ourselves, do not have any ability to overcome our flesh, God did not stop short in His plan to redeem us. Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, a way has been provided to overcome the flesh and live the life of holiness we now desire to live. That way is described in Chapter 8.

Psalms: “The ropes of death were wrapped around me; the torrents of destruction terrified me. The ropes of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. I called to the Lord in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:4-6‬ ‭CSB)

The introduction to psalm 18 states that David wrote this psalm after the Lord rescued him from the grasp of all his enemies. That means that at one point in time, David was helplessly surrounded by enemies, without and within, and God delivered him… from all of them. In this section of the psalm, David described his desperate situation. He was hopelessly surrounded and entangled in his enemies schemes to destroy him – but he called out to the Lord God for help… and God helped him. If you read the rest of this section of Psalm 18, David then goes on to describe the convincing power and intentionality that God showed as He saved him from certain death. In this psalm, David primarily wrote about physical enemies. As we read this psalm with a new covenant understanding, we can be assured that God didn’t just deliver us from some of our enemies. He didn’t just save us from our sinfulness, but leave us frustratingly and hopelessly entangled in sinful flesh. No – God has powerfully and completely delivered us from all of our enemies – flesh included. We just need to hear, understand, believe and appropriate the full gospel – not just the being saved from hell part.

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