What if someone told you that you are human, predisposed to sin (i.e. sinful), and that you actually sin? You would probably believe that because you know it from experience. What if someone told you that as a Believer and follower of Christ, there are times when, ‘what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do’ (Romans 7:15)? Many Believers would agree to this. What if someone went further ahead and said that even when you do not do what is required and instead do what you hate, God does not count the sin against you if you are in Christ? Luckily, it is not someone who tells us this incredible news, but God Himself- ascertaining its validity. ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death’ (Romans 8:1-2).
Although a Christian does not live a double life, a Christian has two lives. The old life of the flesh (considered dead), and the new life of the Spirit. When we become born-again, God tells us we are not condemned, even though our flesh says otherwise. Our thoughts, deeds, and words from our flesh constantly testify against us. However, God’s intent for saving us was not to make us perfect in our flesh, ‘for the flesh profits nothing’ (John 6:63), but rather make us alive and one with Him in Spirit. The degree to which one believes and accepts this, even when their fallen, dead flesh testifies against them is what one terms them a true Believer- one who believes against all odds. Paul says, ‘Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it has been said to him’ (Romans 4:18). Likewise, the first step to being a Believer is faith, a total and complete agreement to what God says despite the circumstances.
‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). When we come to Jesus, it is because we realize how fallen we are and run to Him to ‘rescue me from this body of death’ (Romans 7:24). Upon believing in Jesus, we are told that we are a ‘new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). At this point, ‘in my inner being I delight in God’s law’ (Romans 7:22) but Alas! we ‘see another law at work in the members 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’ (v23). It is at this point that many fall away because they think they are not saved enough, or good enough to continue in salvation, or that the Cross of Christ is powerless. Upholding such errors, they turn away from God, giving reign to their dead life, that of flesh. They backslide.
Abraham, ‘the father of all who believe’ (4:v11), ‘without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead’ (v19). Likewise, as Believers, we face the fact that our flesh is sinful, AND without weakening our faith, continue to ‘run with patience the race that is set before us’ (Hebrews 12:2). Once we accept Jesus into our lives and believe that He forgave all our sins and set eternity before us, we eventually receive God’s gift, the Holy Spirit. Like Abraham who did not ‘waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God’ (v20), ‘received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised’ (v11), so those ‘Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit’ (Ephesians 1:13). Unfortunately, many accept Jesus in their lives but do not believe that they have been set free, as they still consider the sin in their fallen dead flesh. Many do not use their eyes of faith to see the completed work of the cross in their lives, and so do not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, ‘for without faith, it is impossible to please God’ (Hebrews 11:6).
Therefore, the Christian life is a coexisting life such that ‘in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin’ (Romans 7:25). After having faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross, and then receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, a successful Christian life, is therefore living the Spiritual life BY faith. ‘Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires’ (8:v5). In other words, those who focus on their shortcomings and fallen flesh live according to their sinful nature, but those who live the Spiritual life by faith believe against all odds that ‘we died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (6:v2). That is the Gospel of Christ! ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Against all hope and all odds, we can live and grow in our Spiritual lives because the sins of our fallen nature are not imputed on us for ‘you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3). Oh what Grace!
Those who refute grace simply do not have faith, and so essentially are not Believers (for they do not have a Spiritual life). They are those who wear themselves out trying to make their bodies pure through their own will and works. When one does this, God says they ‘offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to-ever increasing wickedness’ (Romans 6:19). For God does not change the sinful flesh, but imputes to those who believe in Him a Spiritual life. So ‘who can make straight, which He has made crooked?’ (Ecclesiastes 7:13). The body is destined for death and those without Spiritual life cannot be quickened to enjoy eternity. So those who try to merit salvation outside of faith in Christ Jesus do so in vain. ‘To the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness’ (Romans 4:5). And so like ‘Abraham believed God and it was credited to Him as righteousness’ (v3), the words ‘were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness- for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead’ (v23).
Living the Spiritual life makes us all the more aware of our fallen flesh. We get to see two contrasts portrayed side by side. The Spiritual life in us makes us aware of our fallen flesh, ‘but sin, seizing the opportunity . . . produce(s) every kind of covetous desire’ (7:v8). Sin in our fallen nature tries to deceive and condemn us, but if we strengthen our Spiritual life, we can counter the notions by living out in faith. ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, we can confidently press on because ‘where sin abounded (in our flesh life), grace abounded all the more (in our Spiritual life)’ (Romans 5:20). So, ‘for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
‘Walking in this newness of life’ (Romans 6:4) is not easy, but is possible because of hope. For the Spiritual life we live ‘is subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself (our bodies) will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into glorious freedom of the children of God’ (8:v20). We therefore ‘groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved’ (Romans 8:23). Faith and grace operate in an atmosphere of hope, an atmosphere of the unseen. Because ‘hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently’ (v24).
And so as we live our Christian life, we are aware of the inward travailing, for the Spirit makes us aware what is of the flesh. The Christian life is therefore about ‘producing fruit in keeping with repentance’ (Matthew 3:8). When sin is brought to our attention, it is not for condemnation but for us to turn it over to God immediately by repentance. We then promptly align with the Spirit, not lingering on our fallen flesh. For ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness’ (Romans 8:26) and so as Jesus says, ‘Do not be afraid, just believe’ (Mark 5:36). We then ought to focus on building up our Spiritual life in which we are sinless, because ‘the gift (of grace) followed many trespasses and brought justification’ (Romans 5:16).
They like, I hear you talking wins but I see your losses
You celebrating crowns but I see your crosses
That’s the paradox that don’t fit in your Mary box
You might not understand if you walk in this pair of socks
The Victor ain’t the one that’s winning seventh inning
Trophies don’t go to the ones that got a good beginning
When I say I win I don’t mean the state I’m in
I mean that day when the grace got fade out then
I’m winning ’cause I ran with Him
~Lyrics to Sweet Victory by Trip Lee~