From the day the Lord saves us until the day He takes us home, Christians have two selves in constant conflict with each other: our already crucified outer “soulish” selves born of our mothers, focused on self-preservation and desiring sinful things, and our inner new (true!) spiritual selves born of the Holy Spirit, focused on Christ and desiring to obey/glorify God (see Gal 5:17).
After much repeated cycling of striving, straining, frustration, disappointment, and resolving to do better next time, God’s law eventually serves its purpose in believers, and we at long last receive the humbling revelation that we are utterly unable to satisfy/obey Him of ourselves. Broken, we realize that (1) the “wretched man” is NOT our true self in Christ, and (2) our behavior at any given moment determines whether we are subject to God’s law of sin and death or to His law of the Spirit of life (Romans 7:14-8:14).
At this precious and most solemn moment, we fall prostrate in the blinding revelatory light of the Lord, literally unable to stand before Him; we are at once repulsed by the startling stench of our sin nature, yet relieved in indescribable gratitude for His merciful deliverance from the devil prowling as a lion within us (1Peter 5:8). The law has served its purpose in exposing our sin, and the gospel has delivered us from it!
This Romans Seven humbling is a pivotal point in our sanctification from whence we largely cease living from our flesh and live in accordance with the Spirit! We enter into God’s rest, apprehending Christ as our Sabbath (Heb 3:7- 4:11). We know our true Romans 8 identity in Christ, and recognize that the Holy Spirit empowers us to put to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:13). Praise God for such deliverance!
So how might we reliably test ourselves at any given moment as to whether we are living in accordance with the flesh or the Spirit?
Romans 8:1 (included below) reveals one such spot test. Christ Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17)! He is our righteousness, and in Him we have been spared from God’s wrath; we are in right standing with God in Christ. When we feel condemnation, it is most assuredly NOT from the Holy Spirit, but from the remains of our flesh, the prowling lion within us. Deceived and rebellious to the end, our outer “soulish” self is self-righteous: it never acknowledges Christ as its righteousnes. It feels condemned because it has been condemned already! [Continued in Part II]
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit
Romans 8:1 (second half of verse is from later manuscripts)
Overcoming in Christ with you, your sister deanna
written March 23, 2015